We are constantly striving to find balance, to be in the moment and to be mindful. We are also told to enjoy the little things in life, and trust in the timing of the universe. As mums we are juggling everything – lack of sleep, new babies, raging hormones and keeping our kids alive, not to mention our sex life, partners, maintaining our sanity and wondering where the woman we once knew went. We are told what is best for us and our families, how to do it and then criticised when others don’t agree.
I try not to buy into these discussions and always choose to surround myself with people who support me in a positive way. Nevertheless the pressure to be everything is huge, ever present and often overwhelming. We have to learn to not judge ourselves, to love ourselves and to not always strive to be perfect, ambitious and amazing.
In my previous career as a co-owner of high-end retail stores, I lived on a single fashion girls’ fridge of champagne, cheese and the odd take away container. I ate out frequently because I was busy, social, travelling and stressed. Even though I worked out (I did Pilates, yoga and had a PT), I was running on adrenals and not healthy. Since selling my businesses, moving to the country and having kids, the slow living lifestyle I have resisted until recently has paid off. Establishing Set The Bar with my brother has been a significant part of this personal wellness journey. This has allowed me to make positive, healthy changes in my life to better myself and my family.
Here are my tips to making healthy choices as a busy mum:
- Look after yourself first! As busy individuals, and in particular as busy mums, we need to look after ourselves first. This contradicts what everyone will say once you have kids. However, it is like the oxygen masks on the plane as it crashes – put yours on first before you attend to anyone else. Eat right, get sleep where we can and let go of the stress. Otherwise, there won’t be anything left for the kids - let alone a partner and business.
- Slow down and take time to breathe. We are all time poor and running from A to B to Z with no time to get there. Remind yourself that it is okay to slow down and take a breath.
- Make healthy food choices for yourself and your family (wherever possible). In a perfect world we would make all our food from scratch. I work from home and live remotely so I have to cook for my family as there is no delivery or takeout options nearby. As much as I am not into cooking, I know exactly what is going into my food and into my kid’s meals. I would recommend involving the kids in healthy food preparation, as they are more likely to try the food if they have helped to make it. I also choose to pack their school lunches every day so that I know what they have eaten.
- Choose healthy snack options if you need to eat between meals. If you need to grab a quick snack, even from a wrapper, make it count. There are some great healthy snacks available to have in the car, at the game or at your desk. Don’t go for sugary options as they will affect your blood sugar levels and will see you crash and burn. Low GI is always a good option too.
- Try to limit your alcohol intake. There seems to be a high prevalence of wine o’clock amongst mums. It’s a common theme and a global club - I have been a VIP member since having kids. It’s only recently that I made the choice to not drink on weekdays. Now I feel clear, alert, my energy is better and I bounce out of bed in the mornings.
- Know what works for your body and system type. I’m fortunate that I am not severely intolerant to any particular food, however I steer away from wheat, dairy and sugar as a general rule because I feel better for it. I’m a believer in ancestral eating and whole foods – non-processed, organic and in season wherever possible. I also try to limit my meat intake. Listen to what your body needs and nourish it accordingly. You don’t need to necessarily count calories, but make sure that you balance what you are eating and how much you are exercising.
- Choose to make a healthy choice. Everything comes down to a matter of choice. These are different for everyone so try to make healthy choices where you can. Even if they are only small, they add up. I like to follow the 80:20 principle that involves eating healthy foods 80% of the time and allowing yourself indulgences and treats 20% of the time. The 80:20 rule is not just an eating plan, but more of a lifestyle approach. You have the freedom to have a cocktail and eat out with friends, making the whole "clean living thing" sustainable for the long haul. Unless you are training for the Olympics or it is a job requirement to look ripped all the time, everything in moderation is a good approach.
Healthy choices are all about balance. Remind yourself you are okay as you are. Eat well, be healthy and enjoy.