ideas for staying healthy as a busy mom

Ladies. Mamas. We're notorious for putting everyone else's needs before our own. It feels self-sacrificial and noble in the moment, but often ends up backfiring because we're exhausted, dehydrated, and cranky. You've heard the old sayings: happy wife, happy life and if mama's not happy, nobody's happy. And let me tell you, they aren't just jokes dads make at weddings. We truly set the tone in our homes with our behavior and attitude and mood. I learned this the hard way when my toddler kept asking "Mama, are you happy, sad, or mad?" Talk about a wake-up call to adjust my mood!

So much of my mood depends on my spiritual life. If I'm in God's Word on a daily basis, talking to Him through prayer, and trusting in him to provide, I'm a happier person. This is priority número uno (and also a blog post topic for next week).

It's also very evident to me that if I'm not taking care of my body, my mood suffers as well. Who among us has not stood in tears over a pile of clothes we've discarded on the floor because they just don't fit the way we want them to? Then there's the 3 p.m. slump where your kids are tugging at your sleeves to come play mommy! and it's all you can do to peel yourself off the couch. Mentally you feel disappointed and angry because you know you could be doing better, but you're frustrated because you just can't seem to fit it into your day. Physically you're drained, crabby, and spread too thin. Tell me that doesn't affect those around you!

So what's a busy mom to do? Believe me, I have lived and completely understand every excuse in the book. Your kids wake up at the crack of dawn, so there's no way you can work out first thing in the morning. Your small 2nd floor apartment isn't conducive to a fitness routine. You can't afford healthy food. Healthy food takes too long to prepare. You don't have time to exercise or meal plan. I know, I know. I totally get it.

But I'll tell you what I used to tell my volleyball players. If it's important to you, you'll find a way. If it's not, you'll find an excuse. So let me give you some ideas to get the creative juices flowing. Remember, I'm not a certified fitness expert or nutrition expert - just a mom who has a passion for health and wellness, and who is speaking from her own experience.

Ideas to Stay Healthy as a Busy Mom:

Working Out

• Set the alarm for an hour before your children get up if they have a consistent waking time that isn't 5 a.m. Go for a jog, take the dog for a walk, look up circuits on Pinterest, or buy a workout DVD.

• Find an affordable gym membership with a reliable daycare and use it guilt-free. Preferably one with classes so you can meet other women with the same interests. It's more fun with a community, and they will hold you accountable.

• Work out after the kids go to bed. Presumably your husband is home by this time, and you can leave the house to run, go to the gym, or lock yourself somewhere to avoid interruption.

• Work out with your children in the room. My daughter used to love doing the Jillian Michael's Cardio Kickboxing dvd with me. Find ways to involve them, like Mommy and Me yoga videos or show them how to do the exercises you're doing.

• Take the whole family for a long walk.

• Whatever workout you decide to do, write it on the calendar at the beginning of the week. Make it a non-negotiable. Set the appointment for yourself and you'll be far more likely to do it.


• Meal plan on the weekend with your husband. Write down every ingredient you need from the store, and stick to the list. My affordable and healthy meals are not original by any means. Whole wheat pasta and meat sauce made with ground turkey and chopped up veggies. Burrito bowls with chicken, quinoa, veggies, salsa, and greek yogurt as a substitute for sour cream. Turkey burgers. Baked potatoes. Chicken, rice, and a vegetable.

• Try a smoothie or shake for one meal. You can jam pack fruits and vegetables into a smoothie, just be careful of the sugar content (Don't use fruit juice as a base...water is best!) Plus there are so many add-in options to up the nutrition factor: coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, flax seed, chia seeds, and protein powder to name a few. I do 1 or 2 meal replacement shakes each day, because they're the perfect balance of carbs, fat, and protein you need each meal, full of vitamins and minerals, and super convenient.

• Carry your water bottle with you wherever you go. Have one in each room of the house. Set a timer every 30 minutes and you and your kids can chug water. Drink all the water.

• Stash healthy snacks in your purse. My students used to make fun of me because I was always eating apple slices like a little kid. But it's a fruit I know I like, no mess, and it's easy to transport. Clementines, bananas, baby carrots, and almonds are other great options.

• Serve vegetables first at lunch and dinner. This is as much for me as it is for my children. I don't always remember to do this, but when I do the kids gobble up their broccoli or salad. If they have the option of crackers vs. broccoli, I think we all know what's going to win. I can't blame them. I would also choose the crackers.

• Don't buy chips or cookies or junk food. Just don't keep them in the house at all. If you want a dessert, bake some cookies or banana bread. If you have kids who "need" snacks, lead by example and show them healthier options. Listen, I'm human. I give my kids Goldfish or Annie's Cheddar Bunnies just like the next gal. But I also know that if Sun Chips are in the house, that bag is going to be gone by sun down. Bad example for the kids, junk for hangover for mama. Plus, now you have more money to put toward expensive produce (why are there never coupons for health food?)

• I'm not perfect with this, and still follow the 80/20 rule (80% of the time we eat healthy, 20% we enjoy whatever we want), but try to listen to how your body feels after eating certain foods. I always feel parched and tired after eating salty foods like chips or crackers. I feel sluggish after eating sugar cereal. I have found that thinking about how a food will make me feel immediately is an easier way to say no to junk food than thinking "Oh, that might cause me to gain a pound or two if I keep doing this every night."


• Set an alarm for bedtime. 10:00 p.m. hits, my iPhone alarm rings, and I start the bedtime routine.

• Surround yourself with people who will support you. There are so many people who feel guilty about their own habits, so they'll try to tear you down subtly. An eye roll here, a sarcastic remark there. No bueno.

• Remember you're setting a great example for your kids about how to take care of the one body they are given. Not just to look and feel good, but because we are good stewards of the gifts God has given us.

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Check out the products I use to stay healthy here or shoot me an email at emilymaureen13@gmail.com for more info!

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