Our bodies are built to be like very efficient machines, capable of incredible work. But like all machinery, our bodies must be regularly “serviced”. Machines need oil changes, spark plugs, and tune ups, and as mothers our bodies need them to keep running well. What we put into our bodies affects our performance and our moods. I am sure everyone is familiar with a sugar rush of energy and the following let down. Usually makes for a tired, grumpy mama. Hmm, how do I know? Nutritious food is vital for us to keep up with the physical, mental, and emotional demands of motherhood. This means 3 good meals a day (sitting down—not stuffing your mouth as you multi-task), eating a variety of foods like good proteins, fats, whole grains, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Allow yourself “easy” nutritious food; don’t think you have to prepare everything from scratch. That in itself can be overwhelming for tired mothers. Many women also need to supplement their diet with vitamins, minerals, herbs, or other supplements. As with any change in diet, in is advisable to talk to your doctor or a dietitian.
Along with nutritious food, we need to drink plenty of bottled water. Many women fill up with coffee, sodas, and other drinks but rarely drink just water. Water is what I drink (I don’t even care for coffee and soda), but I still have to remember to drink enough of it each day. Each morning, fill up a water bottle to keep with you and make sure you fill it at least 8 times in a day. I have found for outings it helps to keep a gallon jug of water in my car so I have it available at all times when I am out running errands or visiting.
In addition to eating well and drinking water, it is crucial for women to exercise. Sometimes that seems to be the last thing we want to think of after a long, tiring day, but it can help you feel better in every regard. It is good for lifting your mood, building self-confidence and body image, a great stress relief and more. What you do is not as important as being consistent. Walking is always a good option and a recommended starting point for those who haven’t been exercising. This is another area to discuss with your doctor. I find for myself, that it really helps me burn off stress to do some aerobic type of activity. Sometimes I jog, jump on the trampoline, hike, or do some aerobic exercise video. Some people enjoy swimming, biking, dancing, tennis, golf, treadmills or other work out equipment, or an aerobics class. I find variety really helps keep me motivated. Try to make this a priority in your day for at least 30 minutes 4 times a week. I know how hard it can be to find the time, but it is so helpful to your well-being. Also, find a time when this works best for you. As much as I want to do this in the morning, I can’t seem to make it work. When I wake up, I need a long time to do quiet things in order to funcition well. Instead, I do better to exercise in the afternoon or early evening. Find a time, stick to it, and have someone keep you accountable like your husband or friend.
Another important factor is to get out into the sun and fresh air daily. Studies have shown that sunshine is critical for people who suffer from depression. Also, this is the best way to get vitamin D. Being outside in nature also helps appreciate God’s creative hand. It develops an attitude of gratitude when we see the fruits of His design. I like to go outside and work in my garden each afternoon, even if only to pick weeds for 15 minutes. Other ideas include going to the park with your children, taking nature walks, sit in the sun and read, write, draw, or take pictures, or play a game with your children like ball or tag. The ole saying ‘mother nature nurtures’ is true.
A very needy area for busy mothers is sleep. Sleep helps us to think clearly, remember important things, and remain calm and collected. Tired moms are more prone to depression, crying, and yelling. I find this is another point that I find difficult to fit into my busy days. 8 hours is optimal, and I try to ferociously guard this time. If I can’t or don’t get that much each night, I make sure to take a nap. I enforce a daily quiet time built into our school day which allows me to sleep or rest. Make this a priority. Stress can really cause us to be tired and completely spent.
The last area I want to mention is hygiene and personal care. I know for me, this has been low on the list of priorities because I never thought it was important, especially if I would be home all day with children. I would dress in sweats, pull my hair into a pony tail, and not put on any jewelry or make-up. What I found for me is that I had a lazy lounge around attitude when doing this, and I would feel ugly, tired, and worthless when I looked in the mirror. It is amazing how fixing your hair, putting on some make-up and jewelry, and wearing some pretty clothes can lift your spirits. Also, most husbands enjoy a well kept wife.
What things do you do to tend yourself physically? Look for emotional and mental needs next time.