On Sunday night I feel like I am rocking it! I look at my meal prep, the healthy food in my house fresh from the daily grocery trip, and the laundry all clean and ready for the week ahead. I think “Huh! go ahead week bring on whatever you got, I got this!”. Then by Tuesday, I am running around yelling at kids in the morning to find their mitts or their water bottle that has already been lost. I step in a pile of dog poo left nicely for me by my rapidly deteriorating senior dog at the back door and then spill my coffee all over my pants while I try to hop up the stairs without tracking sh*t on the staircase. I drop an F-bomb to which I hear my youngest son downstairs who is waiting to go to school repeat loudly! Yup… and it’s Tuesday. Relatable?
As a parent, I do my best as I know we all do every day. As a health & wellness coach, I, of course, have read textbook formula’s for wellness, read the many “10 healthy habits for mom’s to find balance” blog posts written by twenty-something-year-old coaches that don’t have kids yet that layout your “perfect morning routine”, or the “instamom” that has the model body, posing with her 3 kids that all are dressed to match, hair is all done and look picture perfect and what do we do with this social media imagery? we can feel bad! we turn it inwards and think “omg I could never get it together to look that like”. We put pressure on ourselves that everything needs to look and be a certain way in the week and when the inevitable curveball gets thrown and our best laid out plans go out the window we can feel overwhelmed, frustrated, and just plain crappy.
We know that taking care of ourselves as parents is important. That we can not take care of others if we are not well. That putting on your own “oxygen mask first before someone else’s” is a basic survival technique but it can feel really hard when we are told the solution is “10 step morning rituals” when we can barely get the basics done to head out the door in the morning! So where is the actual “balance”? and what is the NO BS solution to putting your health first? I am sharing a few healthy habits that can help move you and your family towards health, one small (realistic habit) at a time.
1. Use Automation:
Creating efficiencies in your week wherever possible is a fantastic way to curate more time for you and your family to do the things you love. First, look at the things that can easily be automated. Family scheduling calendars (so many free apps!) can be a real lifesaver. You will need to put a little time upfront inserting everyone’s calendars (school dates, sporting practices or events, family or social functions) for the upcoming 1-3 months but then it can sync to everyone’s phones or computers and alerts will pop up as you set them (1 day before, 1 hour before) notifications so you NEVER forget anything again. Getting organized this way can reduce some of the cognitive load we as parents often take on.
Another automation is grocery shopping. I sat with a client who had anxiety around grocery shopping and I said automate it! Sit in your PJ’s on your couch and use the “click’n’save” options most stores have and order your groceries with a few clicks. Then you can have it delivered or you roll up and they load it into your car. It saves you TONS of time! Now for those of my fellow Type-A personalities, I understand your knee jerk reaction might be like “no way” I need to do my own shopping, but I would challenge and ask yourself if that’s truly the hill you want to die on so to speak? If you could carve out 2 extra hours in a week for yourself to invest in you is that not more valuable than you picking out which bag of apples goes into the cart? Letting go of some of the control and taking help where we can with cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, etc that takes up bigger portions of time in the week go a long way to creating real efficiencies in your week.
2. Planning ahead
Now, this is different than the automatic calendar. This planning can look very different for each family. This might involve getting a large calendar you can put up on the wall in the kitchen where you can write out the week or the month plans. Being able to visually layout what’s going to be happening and having a discussion within the family ahead of time can go along way to reducing stress. Now most of us do this in some way or another already. To turn it into a healthy family habit means that everyone in the house is involved and participates in the planning and it is not just on one person’s shoulders. A simple strategy is this:
Pick a day in the week that best fits everyone and you are most likely to get everyone’s fullest attention. For me, it’s Sunday morning cause we are not running around anywhere and everyone is enjoy’s family breakfast so its a great time to do it right after that.
Then I ask everyone to brain dump what is on the agenda for the next week/month and write it all out on the big calendar.
3. Repurposing Food & Using Leftovers
So yes, ideally we cook a home-cooked healthy meal every night (thank-you for stating the obvious health bloggers of the universe)… however, even when you meal prep and make the best plans it does not always work out this way. I think the first thing I want to say is “THAT’S OK”. I literally have coached with mom’s who have cried to me on the phone that they feel so guilty and shitty when they give their kids cereal or a box of Kraft dinner as a meal. To that, I always say “it’s ok, they will survive! and your wellness and energy are so important too. Don’t be so hard on yourself if they have cereal as a meal. Be kind to yourself you are doing the best you can”.
Now that we got that out of the way. When I work with clients to make a family-friendly plan that fits their time, budget, and health goals we look at how we can have home-cooked meals while still not cooking every night. We all need a break and that is ok. Skip the dishes might be great but if when you add up the last 3 months of skip-the-dishes costs you realize you could have gone to Mexico for that money instead…. then maybe its time for a better plan. What does food repurposing & functionally using leftovers your kids will want to eat again look like?
An example is for one family we have a slow-cooker roast beef meal which was super easy (toss in the pot and walk away), then the next day we repurposed that meat into a shredded beef taco dinner, and then french beef dip dinner. Another example I did with a family was a glazed slow-cooker ham dinner, which in the same way was then turned into ham hoagie sandwiches and a side salad, then the few remaining ounces of ham was chopped up into cubes and mixed into a Mac & Cheese Casserole. So one slow-cooker meal into 3 meals!
This way the family could walk in the door and assemble a repurposed meal in minutes (faster than the pizza delivery could get there) on the nights they were really busy with activities or when they were just plain exhausted. Also by changing the meal, the “anti-leftover” kids which are a reality see a whole new meal in front of them. This saves you money, carves’s out more time in your week, increases family time to enjoy a meal, and reduces your load. You can check out my recipe page organized by category or search by an ingredient in the search bar in the righthand corner.
4. Realistic “MOM Meal Prep”
So I strategically put meal prep after the repurposing and using leftovers on this list so I acknowledged first that even the best meal prep on the weekend does not always solve the “what’s for dinner?” issue. However, I personally always do some meal prep on the weekend and when you pair this tool with my repurposing food habits then you are covering all your bases. I find that meal prep is this thing that either I have parents LOVE it or say they are NOT meal prep people. I often challenge my non-meal prep people by asking what meal prep looks like in their minds? and most often, its way more elaborate and detailed then it needs to be.
Meal Prepping can look like 101 different things to each person. The trick here is to be first honest with yourself on a few things:
Do I enjoy cooking?
Do I enjoy prepping food for the week ahead?
When food is prepped do we eat it or do I throw lots of it out at the end of the week?
What prepped foods always get eaten? (i.e. snacks)
What prepped foods to I almost always throw out at the end of the week?
How much time am I honestly willing to dedicate to meal prep? (less than 20 min, 45min-1 hour, 1-2 hours).
You need to get honest with yourself about these questions first to understand what is really working for you and your family. From here it’s easy to create meal prep habits that work and stick. An example is my 20-minutes of fewer clients I might have them buy a roasted chicken from the deli bring it home and shred it up and turn it into lunch wraps, make chicken salad, or mix it in a bowl with pesto for lunch bowls! Cut up veggies and buy a container of hummus and wash a bag of apples for snacks.
Even buying a muffin mix and then “mom hacking it” by adding in real food and more fiber into the mix for breakfast muffins for the week. Little tricks like this allow for the person who does not want to meal prep or like cooking to prep all they need for breakfast, snacks, and lunches with minimal time or effort. I find once that is mastered we can build and add on making you a meal prep master even with less than 20-minutes! I also have a 101 Healthy Snack E-book and Raising Healthy Eaters E-book that calls for minimal ingredients and there is something for everyone no matter how you replied to the above questions.
5. 30-Minutes of Daily Joy – Filling up our cup
“Date nights”, “women retreats”, “long bubble baths” or “quiet daily meditation” all sound great and it is! Those are all wonderful thing, BUT I also know many moms’s that when women say these things or when they see that suggestion on a “‘ healthy habits for healthy mom’s” list we can roll our eye’s and think “must be nice or mom’s who have time for that, I have no time fo that!”.
Now ideally, as you begin to implement and master the above 4 habits you will carve out more time in the week to allow for those things. However, when we are overwhelmed and really in the sh*t as parents it can be hard to see how to get there. So I start smaller with my clients and we talk about 30-minutes of daily JOY. Yup 30-minutes daily to do something that fills you up crushes stress, and after that 30-minutes you feel way better than before you started.
This can be movement (walking, stretching, plugging in your earbuds and locking the door to do a quick meditation, yoga, or guided workout).
Simply leaving your house, grabbing a tea and driving in your car listening to your favorite music that lifts you up and helps you work through whatever is going on in your head.
Going to bed 30-minutes early and reading a book that you love or listening to a positive podcast.
The sky is the limit! All you have to do it book it into your calendar and make it as much of a priority as you do for your kid’s stuff and everyone else’s needs. Start with practicing it 30-minutes a day for 30 days. Once that becomes a healthy habit you just do like making coffee in the morning then expanding and doing more is possible.
Healthy REALISTIC Habits= Healthy Moms= Healthier Families. Make yourself a priority!
I would like to note that our white outfits in the picture were one-time wear for my son and daughter as they were horribly stained that day! haha just like to keep real that is and will be the only time we ever attempted to take a picture in white! #notrealisticphoto lol
I would love to learn what healthy habits you use in your toolbox as a mom to crush it in your week? Connect with me on Facebook or Instagram. I am also always sharing wellness tips, easy healthy recipes, and health info on the Rejoice social media channels to seamlessly fit healthy living into even the busiest of lifestyles. I look forward to connecting with you there!
In great health,