***originally posted on Huffington Post***
We live in a society where our days are filled with work, family obligations and a to-do list that seems to multiply as the hours tick by. In addition to our busy schedules we find ourselves constantly distracted by our smart phones, email, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope. Basically if it can distract us from what we have to get done, chances are, we will happily procrastinate in the deep abyss of social media. Now, if you happen to be a parent on top of everything else, you don’t stand a chance.
I am a mother of a 4.5 yr old boy and I will admit that my relationship with distraction started when my bundle of joy was a baby and I was up at ungodly hours. It was my connection to the outside world beyond the unending cycle of feeding, diapers, laundry and cleaning until my husband walked through the door.
Before I had my son I was an avid runner who was doing my teacher training to become a yoga instructor. I was going to a class called Body Conditioning By Dancers twice a week. I was active. I knew labour would take a physical toll, but then an emergency C-section turned me into someone who could barely get out of bed on her own. I longed to have my active lifestyle back and knew that I had to make some changes to get myself back on track.
It is easy for parents to fall into a pattern where they are just always on the go. Wake up, breakfast, feed kids, dress kids, get kids to daycare/school, rush to work – but stop at Starbucks to get a caffeine boost to get through to lunch, another caffeine boost to get through the afternoon, finish work, rush home to pick up kids, take kids to extracurricular activities, get kids home, dinner, homework, bath and bed. I know that feeling of saying goodnight to your little one and just wanting to collapse on the couch for about 5 minutes before falling asleep. You finally drag yourself to bed and start all over the next morning. What’s missing from all of this is one major important piece. Your overall wellness! As parents we are so busy taking care of everyone else that we let our own health slide. That needs to change. As the wise Elle Woods from Legally Blonde said “Exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy”
Taking care of you creates a domino effect, before you know it your spouse is picking up on what you’re doing, your kids pick up on it, your colleagues are picking up on it, your boss is picking up on it, everyone has more energy and everyone is happier, calmer and honestly a lot more fun to be around. So where do you start? It doesn’t have to cost you much to bring back wellness in your life.
- Parent to a baby/toddler: Use them as your very own gym prop!
Hold them as you squat.
Use them as a weight for bicep curls or an overhead press.
Put them down and get into a push up position each time those elbows bend, give your little one a kiss. You could also check out Toronto Yoga Mamas for classes you can bring your babe to.
Once they are old enough to be in a jogging stroller (usually about 7-8 months since this is when your little one’s neck is strong enough), strap them in and go for a run
- Kindergarten to middle school age: Once your little one no longer has to be in a stroller, get walking as family, or yoga as a family, hiking as a family. Kids learn from example if they see you doing it, chances are they will want to too. There are loads of run events where kids can take part with their parents, like Canada Running Series for starters
- Regardless of how old your child/children are: Finding time to get out on your own and move is so important. Most yoga studios offer an introductory month offer where you can attend as many classes as you can/would like to. Maybe register for Class Pass. It allows you to browse a plethora of fitness and yoga studios. Not in your budget? Put those social media skills to work as a way to learn about free events happening in your neighbourhood. Tribe Fitness or Lululemon as an example offer free yoga/fitness classes and run groups.
- Short on time: between your long to do list? Workouts like tabata or HIIT will give you fast results in a short amount of time.
- Corporate yoga/fitness: There are quite a few yoga/fitness instructors (ahem…me 😉 ) who do corporate classes and will come to your place of work to teach private, semi-private or group classes. You don’t even need to leave your office, just your desk.
- Meal prep: this is HUGE. All the activity in the world doesn’t matter if you and your family aren’t eating right. I like to spend time on Sunday planning meals for the week. Meals that include everything to give you a well-balanced meal. What can also help with this? A crockpot. A crockpot will become a good friend. When you get up in the morning put all your ingredients in there and set the timer. Come home hours later to a warm cooked nutritious, delicious meal.
These are just a few steps to help bring wellness back into your life. What’s not on the list? Surround yourself with people who want to help you succeed and enlist the help of friends and/or your spouse/partner. Before you know it your positive energy and outlook will result in a happier, more efficient you. Not just at home, but at work, your productivity will increase. It’s a win – win situation.
Finally, once you have planned your week and your meals, remember to be present: “Most humans are never fully present in the now, because unconsciously they believe that the next moment must be more important than this one. But then you miss your whole life, which is never not now, and that’s a revelation for some people: to realize that your life is only ever now” ~ Eckhart Tolle