June 18, 2019
Soccer practice, school projects, dance recitals and work obligations stretch parents to the max these days. But busy schedules don’t mean that parents have to give up on taking care of their own health. After all, how will you get everyone where they need to be if you are not well?
Consider these ideas from Ocean Medical Center’s Michelle Caravella, RDN, to add exercise, healthy habits and relaxation (yes, that is still a thing) back into your life:
- Meal-prep to minimize fast food. Simplify eating healthy by planning and prepping meals ahead of time. “Pick a day and time to grocery shop and prep meals and healthy snacks for everyone,” Michelle says. “Then you are short on time, you can pull a meal out of the freezer to heat up for dinner or grab individually bagged snacks to eat on the go.”
- Don’t skip meals. Eat a healthy breakfast and eat snacks and small meals regularly throughout the day. This is the best way to keep energy levels up and avoid temptations of unhealthy snacks and meals.
- Make health a priority. As you fill out the daily, weekly and monthly family calendar, schedule time for exercise, meal-prep and relaxing family time. Putting the morning walk or the weekly family game night on the calendar increases their importance and lets everyone know to plan for the activity.
- Find a gym with child care. Parents with young children can get a workout at gyms that offer a babysitting program for the time that the parent is in the facility. Also, find a gym that allows teens to join parents in exercise classes or activities as a guest—a great way to model good health habits while spending time together.
- Exercise throughout the day. Don’t rely only on scheduled classes or long runs for exercise. Park far away from the office or store entrance to add extra walking time, take the stairs instead of an elevator, walk around the soccer fields while your child is at practice, and do squats while picking up toys or clothes from the floor. “Adding 10 minutes of exercise at a time throughout the day adds up quickly to burn calories, improve mental health and strengthen muscles,” Michelle says.
- Play with your children. Who says exercise can’t be fun? Shoot some hoops, play tag, swim or ride bikes together. Not only is everyone exercising, but the family time is important for parents and children.
- Make household chores fun. Competitions to see who can clean up their room first, pick up things left in the den or dust the best gets everyone moving and laughing. The house looks neater and parents get an unexpected workout.
- Stay hydrated. Dehydration increases feelings of tiredness and hunger. Keep a bottle of water with you at all times and sip on it throughout the day.
- Reward yourself. It’s easy to focus on everything that still needs to be done, but give yourself permission to take time off to read a book, watch a movie, go to lunch with a friend and relax. Staying healthy is more than taking care of your physical health; mental health is just as important. A few hours of “me” time allows parents to re-charge and be ready to tackle the next item in the family’s hectic schedule.
Find additional nutrition and health tips and information to support your goals.
The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.