With fast paced lifestyles and work dynamics changing, more and more moms are working. Even though women are superstars both on the job and at home, sometimes getting the balance right can be challenging. Juggling between a gazillion things like work, family, kids, school and extra mural activities, moms often have no time to care for themselves. We understand the struggle is real – it’s difficult to fit a work-out in, sleep enough and pack healthy lunch boxes. This article looks to help you and your family on your health journey.
PLAN, PREPARE AND PRIORITISE
There’s the popular saying by Benjamin Franklin: “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail1.” Planning is essential to help make things easier for you to manage. Set aside time each week to plan for the week ahead. Perhaps plan your meals in advance, if you know your time will be limited look at doing easy dinners. Make a list of food items that you need for lunch boxes and see where you can fit exercise in. If you have lots of deadlines ahead communicate with your partner to ensure you have that extra support2. By planning and prioritising as much as you can, you will help decrease stress in the long run.
1. Quick & Easy Breakfast Options
We all know the importance of breakfast but preparing it can seem like too much effort on a rushed weekday morning. Research shows that breakfast is critical to learning, performance and behavior in school. In fact, kids that eat breakfast had better memory, a longer attention span and their test scores and attendance was better than those who skipped their morning meal3. Parents need to set an example for their kids, the best example they can. A breakfast that is low GI (gives you slow sustained energy for a longer period and keeps you fuller for longer) and one that contains protein is best4. Here are a few easy examples:
- FUTURELIFE® Smart food™ mixed with water or milk is convenient as it requires no cooking and can be enjoyed as a meal or smoothie.
- Steel-cut oats with milk: prepare this the night before and place in containers to have during the week. Serve it differently each day to keep the kids intrigued. Include things like fresh fruit, sliced almonds, honey, chia seeds, or your favourite nut butter.
- Hard-boiled eggs (pre-prepared for the week) sliced on a whole-wheat English muffin with melted cheese.
- High-fibre cereal mixed with milk with a side of fruit for added fibre and vitamins. FUTURELIFE® Bran Flakes with Probiotic Sachets is a great option here.
- Bake healthy bran muffins on the weekend – get the kids to help. Grab this with a yoghurt and you’re on your way.
2. The Perfect Lunch Box
Packing healthy lunch boxes for the whole family is key but this may also be time consuming. Here are a few ways to make this easier for you:
- Get equipped: get the right sized lunchbox containers for meals and snacks, a small cooler with an ice-pack and ensure you all have water bottles.
- Plan: make enough food the night before and pack the left-overs. If cooking during the week is a big no-no then bulk-cook over the weekend and store in the fridge or freezer in portioned containers for the week.
- Healthy lunch box: a healthy lunch box would include something from each food group, so you would want to include fruits, vegetables, grains/starches, protein, dairy and a healthy fat5.
- Fruit: fresh apples, banana, strawberries, grapes, watermelon cubed, fruit sticks, dried fruit or fruit rolls (no added sugar).
- Vegetables: carrot/cucumber/bell pepper/ celery sticks, salad veggies (cherry tomatoes, lettuce etc.)
- Grains or starches: wraps, whole-wheat or low GI bread, whole-wheat wraps, brown rice, couscous, healthy muffins, brown pasta, quinoa etc.
- Protein: grilled chicken strips, cheese, boiled egg, tuna, steak strips, feta, lean mince, fish cakes, cottage cheese.
- Dairy: low fat yogurt, milk, drinking yogurt.
- Fat: homemade salad dressing with a healthy oil such as olive or avocado oil, nuts, seeds, lite mayonnaise, hummus, nut butters.
- For snacks: pre-pack these beforehand. This will take some time over the weekend but then you are sorted for the week ahead. Here are a few examples: fresh, whole fruit or in tubs, dried fruit and fruit rolls (no added sugar). Roasted, unsalted nuts about 30g, trail mixes, lean biltong 30-50g, air popped popcorn, whole-wheat crackers served with cottage cheese/sugar free peanut butter/smashed avocado, low-fat or fat-free milk or yoghurt (100g), veggies dipped in hummus/cottage cheese, FUTURELIFE® High Protein LITE SmartBar or FUTURELIFE® Smart Drink™.
- Pack enough: this will help decrease the temptation to buy something. Eat a small meal every 2-3 hours (mid-morning snack, lunch and afternoon snack). Drink lots of water, diluted fruit juice, herbal tea, coffee etc.
3. Choosing on-the-go meals
Naturally children are full of energy but choosing the right nutritious foods to fuel their day can be tricky if you’re out and about and everyone else is eating sugary foods. Always try fuel them and yourself with a healthy breakfast and pack water for the car. If you are going on an outing where you can take food in, then definitely pack some healthy sandwiches and snack options. If they have had healthy options during the day then an ice-cream or chocolate as a treat isn’t the end of the world. Here are a few healthier swops4:
- Choose brown options over white (brown bread, rice, pasta).
- Skip the chips and opt for salad, corn or veggies.
- Don’t upsize the meal.
- Choose dairy/water/diluted fruit juice over sugar sweetened beverages.
- Choose popcorn over crisps.
- Choose fresh, seasonal fruit.
- Choose grilled/boiled over fried, battered options.
4. Get active
A healthy lifestyle is one that includes both healthy food options and exercise. With limited time and lots of obligations exercise usually comes last. Exercise has countless benefits. It has shown to help with weight management, it combats health conditions and diseases, improves mood, boosts energy levels and helps one sleep better6. Even 10 minutes a day is better than nothing.
- Always choose a parking further away.
- Take the stairs not the lift or escalator.
- Join an exercise class/gym, most of these have supervised kids play areas which will be a nice outing for the kids too: spinning, yoga, pilates, kata boxing or even join a walking/running club.
- If you are not sure where to start, use your smart phone. At the push of a button you can have easy 10-minute home workouts. This means getting up only 10-minutes earlier than before – the benefits will be so worth it.
- Find what you enjoy even if it means taking your dogs for a walk, walking in nature or swimming.
- Set realistic exercise goals and try stick to it.
We understand that it isn’t easy being a mother and its even more difficult to stay healthy when your time is limited. Research shows that working moms juggling careers and kids feel “mothers guilt7”. Taking more time away from the kids to fit exercise in seems extremely selfish. Let’s face it though, to be an extraordinary mom you need to take care of yourself. Therefore, you need to plan, prioritise and prepare for everything in your life and your family’s life. It takes a certain amount of balance and bravery to say: “I am destined for more, I won’t settle and I will strive to be better every single day.”