Becoming a parent is one of life's biggest changes! You go from being autonomous, just looking after yourself with free time for interests and hobbies to spending hours feeding and trying to make your little one sleep, washing endless laundry, cooking for your kids, helping them play, taking them to activities - the routine is relentless! Often as parents we’re the last people to take a break and consider our needs. As the saying goes, “you can’t pour from an empty cup” so we need to ensure we have enough in the tank before giving energy to others.
Be sure to keep well hydrated throughout the day to keep energy levels up.
Here are some of my top tips:
Don’t let hunger strike!
There are flash points in each day where it’s often completely busy for a couple of hours. You're madly dashing around when you realise it’s been hours since you’ve eaten and you're about to keel over with hunger. This also does nothing positive for mood and energy levels. Many evenings I’ve been literally crying on the sofa and a quick piece of toast has sorted me out immediately. The same goes for fluids - keep well hydrated throughout the day to keep energy levels up.
Get the healthy snacks within easy reach.
Yes, there are lots of moments when we just want to grab all the biscuits, and that’s fine sometimes, but maybe just not every day. Sugar provides a quick hit but will also leave you crashing shortly afterwards, plus it’s really addictive, so once you’re in the cycle it can be hard to stop. Have some slow release and refreshing snacks ready to grab throughout the day. Ideas include: apple slices with nut butter, hummus and veggies, oat cakes, natural yoghurt with berries, handfuls of raw nuts, rye bread with nut butter/roast chicken/ham, banana, berry and almond butter smoothie, energy balls, wholegrain no sugar bars, eg Squirrel Sisters, Deliciously Ella.
Don’t worry if you can’t fit in a whole workout, but do try to find a little pocket in each day where you can move for 15 minutes. Your body and mind will thank you for it. It could be a short workout on youtube, a brisk walk, a stretch sequence - whatever floats your boat and gives you energy.
Schedule it in
If you do want to make time for a longer workout by yourself, work with your partner at the beginning of the week to schedule a time. It’s not selfish to want and need to take time for yourself, and movement can be such a beneficial thing to do in that time. If we don’t schedule time in, it’s likely we’d go days without having a moment to ourselves which can quickly build up into stress.
Divide and conquer
Rather than take on all the same jobs each day, it’s quite a good idea to mix it up. This might involve one person doing the children's bath and story and the other one prepping dinner. It gives both of you a chance to do things your own way with the kids and the other one a bit of space, even if it is just tidying up the mess of the day and ordering a takeaway. Get the tunes or podcast on while you do it (or just relish the silence) and then have a catch up with your partner when all the chores are completed.
Reflect and pat yourself on the back.
It's a really good idea to keep a bit of a journal just to reflect on the day. Try writing three words that represent positive moments in your day - they can be really simple, for example ‘clean hair, delicious lunch, no arguments after school’ and then one thing you’d prefer to let go of. Writing them down will help you build gratitude for all you've completed and give you a bit of closure on anything less enjoyable. You might notice patterns, or perhaps that things are never as bad as you thought they’d be. It always helps relaxation and acceptance if you can reflect on and then release thoughts from your brain before bed.
Have slow release snacks, such as energy balls, ready to grab throughout the day.