Finding time for yourself, lose weight and feel vital as a parent
Ah, parenthood! Kids are amazing, aren’t they? Yes, kids are awesome, but they come with the magical ability to make hours and days to disappear into oblivion. They are needy and demanding from the moment of their birth to… well, forever.
For most parents, “free time” is something unheard of. When you are a parent, ‘me time’ it’s like a unicorn - sounds magical but it's not real!
We are not only parents. We are spouses, CEO of our household, and our companies. We are everything to our kids - chefs, nurses, playmates, teachers, chauffeurs, and cheerleaders.
We are wearing so many hats, after a while, we start to function on auto-pilot.
We become mindless. As a result, we suffer mentally, physically, and spiritually. We lose the sense of who we are, we lose our vitality.
I know that it is challenging to just ‘be’, when society travels at 100 miles per hour. Many parents focus on just surviving and getting through the day, ticking off the items on the never-ending to-do list.
A successful day is measured by how much gets done. And there is so much to do. All. The. Time!
“There is a big difference between being busy and being productive”
How can you find time to exercise or cook healthier? How can you set time aside for date night or the things you actually love to do?
Let me start you off with this:
“No matter what your parenting guilt says - you are allowed to have your own goals and dreams! Yes, you do!”
Being a parent isn't easy! I spent countless times hiding and crying in the bathroom feeling overwhelmed and tired. Or driving around - just to be alone for 10 minutes!
Especially as a first-time mom. Geesh, that was the worst!
You see all these ‘magical moments with precious little angels’ captured and shared on social media (now that’s a bunch of bs!).
You realize very fast, that although every kid is an angel (yes, they are), they are also terrorists that don’t give a flying duck about your plans. Your newborn didn't get the memo about sleeping through the night, and your toddler insists to wake up at 5am!
Kids can make the simplest task a gazillion times more difficult. I totally understand. I have 2 very active and stubborn little girls at home!
So, when you are tired, about to cry - how can you even think about exercising and losing weight? It’s difficult to stay motivated if you’re exhausted or feel guilty about wanting to take care of ‘you’.
So how? Are you going to wait until kids move out? Are you going to pause your life until then?
I know that losing weight or getting vitality back is not your priority when you are a parent trying to juggle life itself.
What if I told you a few tricks to make it work?
Start paying attention to how you are spending your day. Be mindful, be present.
How to create more time?
1. Say “no” more often
My daughter loves karate and ballet. I don't mind taking her to practice because seeing the pure joy on her face makes the commute and waiting worth it. As a fitness professional, I support our kids to be engaged in any physical activity.
However, there are plenty of times, we parents, we find ourselves committed to stuff that no one in the family actually seems excited about.
Have you ever volunteered for school activities that you secretly despise? Have you ever attended a birthday party for a person you cannot stand? I can proudly say I haven’t!
How is it possible? Simple, I said “NO”.
Birthday invites that I don't want to go to, catching up with ‘bitchy friends’, phone calls, messages. I started to reject them and to my surprise, nothing bad happened!
No one died, the world didn’t end and I didn’t miss out on anything important. Some people did throw a tantrum, but I didn't care for them in the first place - good riddance.
It is ok to set boundaries and say ‘no’ to activities nobody enjoys.
Learning to say ‘no’ to things that don't help you or your family to reach your goals, that’s how you gain control back over your time.
2. Create a “Not-To-Do” list
Yes, you read it correctly. A “not-to-do” list. You have to be very honest with yourself when creating this list.
Do you want to lose weight? Exercise more? Feel confident and fulfilled? Have a date night? These things should be your priority - so treat them as such.
Stop wasting time by being busy with mindless stuff.
Anything that doesn’t move you towards your goal, stop doing it!
A few of the items on my no-no list are:
- scrolling through Pinterest and Tik Tok
- day time Netflix binge-watching
- online retail therapy aka online shopping
That’s just a few examples of things I don’t do (or only for very limited time slots) because it keeps me away from my goals.
3. Organize the morning rush
When you wake up and jump right into the morning chaos, you might feel stressed and exhausted before your day’s even started — and that makes it hard to get anything done efficiently.
I’m minimizing the morning rush by prepping as much as I can the night before. And I start my day with a 10-minute mindfulness meditation that helps me to get ready for a successful day
- I lay out the next day’s clothes (in my case school uniforms)
- Pack lunches, snacks and fill water bottles
- Backpacks, shoes, and everything else is set to “grab-and-go”
- I don't check social media and my email in the morning, I wait until everything else is ready and everybody on its way to school or work
4. Schedule your free time
When you are a parent, you can forget spontaneity. The more you plan, and by planning I don't mean cramming as much as possible into your planner, the more time you create. People are usually scared of planning - they think it takes away their freedom.
First of all - what freedom?
Second of all, by planning your day (and sticking to it), you will create more time. There is a big BUT though - this will work only if you adhere to the ‘not-to-do list’!
When you exercise or do things that make you happy, your body is making ‘happy hormones’. Happy body = happy mind!
You are working towards your goal - losing weight, feeling happy and vital!
5. Create an itinerary for rabbit hole adventures
Many of the ‘rabbit hole’ tasks should be on your ‘not-to-do list’. But in today’s instant society, emails, reminders, updates, and WhatsApp messages buzzing in your pocket constantly.
It is very hard not to answer these messages as they arrive, I totally understand.
I used to be ‘always available’, trying to answer back immediately. It left me with no time to exercise, no time for date nights with my husband.
Until I realized that every time my phone buzzed, I felt stressed and anxious, especially if I couldn't answer it right away.
Feeling stressed was bad enough, but when my kiddos told me “you are always on your phone, you never play with us” - that was the final straw. That was the slap in the face I needed.
This is how what I do now:
Instead of checking my email every time I get a notification, I have a time slot to do that. I created an automated reply that states when I’m replying to my emails. If it is really urgent, they will call me.
I plan as many errands as possible for the same day.
6. You should be your priority
I know this goes against all you’ve been taught over the years. We’ve been taught that being selfish is wrong.
Especially when you are a parent. When you are a parent, your life should revolve around your kids. Right?
“What do you mean by - you want to exercise for an hour? What about your kids?”
“How can you sit and read your book while your kids are in the other room playing?”
“You have time to go to a spa for an hour? What about your family?”
Other people will always have an opinion about you, no matter what you do. And your own ‘guilt trip’ will try to shame you.
Don't. Let. It. Get. To. You.
“Fit your oxygen mask first before you help others!”
You might think that I’m a bad parent (and it doesn't matter to what you think), but my life doesn't revolve around my kids.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my children dearly, and can’t imagine my life without them.
I love them so much, we play together, they have my attention, I am always there when they need me.
You really only have a few opportunities in life to really break through and get where you want to be. And by taking care of myself, I am teaching my kids the same.
“People are like batteries - they need recharging or they stop working!”
If you want to get what you want, you need to start putting yourself first and prioritizing your goals. If that makes you selfish - so be it!
Please don’t get me wrong. I don't mean that you need to disregard everything and everybody else. No! What you can do is to schedule those things that you do to take care of yourself on your calendar, and take care of them before you run errands or check your email.
You have every right to chase your goals 100% of the time and to not let things like forced volunteering, breakfast gossip catch-ups, or somebody else's drama get in the way!
How often have you said this sentence to yourself - ”I will work out / take a bath / to go for a manicure or a massage / read my book - as soon as I finish what I need to do today!” I bet you never got around it.
Does any parent ever feel like they are all caught up?
7. Get your family involved in planning
Meal preparation, exercising, outdoor activities, family outings. Get everybody involved to help you plan.
- Cooking healthy meals for a couple of days ahead can be time-consuming - but so worth it. Especially if you are trying to lose weight.
- Spend one Saturday afternoon to prep for the meals. That way, if something unexpected happens or when juggling homework and after-school activities, you can get meals together like a pro.
- Always include your kids in the process. Kids love to be in the kitchen. You can spend time together and share stories and laughs.
- Healthy meals are simple and tasty. I have a gazillion recipes for you. If I can prepare them, so can you!
- When we do grocery shopping, I let the kids do a treasure hunt for some “easy to find” food items. Nowadays, however, we have groceries delivered.
8. Kids “house chores chart”
I let my little ‘roommates’ choose which chores they want to do, and when. Incentives are mandatory!
Although my kiddos still need supervision while doing their chores, we make it fun. They help me to load and load the laundry, vacuum, feed our dogs. Some of the most interesting conversations we had were during these times.
9. Your support net - lean on your village
As a military family, we move a lot, hence I don't really have a support network. But when I do, I am not ashamed to ask for help. Carpooling, babysitting, projects and crafts, and much more.
I used to be very independent, a “do it all” person. Until I became a mother and realized that parenthood is not all unicorn and rainbow farts.
“Raising children is hard, and any parent who says differently is lying!”
I felt terrible when I saw other mothers so put together. Until I learned that my fellow-parents are just as stressed out and overscheduled as I was!
I'm very grateful for my amazing husband - he is amazing in taking care of everything and everybody - and giving me space to do my exercise as a parent when I need it.
10. Get your family more active
When I exercise, my kids, although not invited, they like to crash my sessions. So I include them. Have you ever tried to do squats with a 7-year old hanging on your back?
Or doing push-ups with a 4-year-old adding resistance by laying down on top of you? It's tough! But fun!
We also have our own workouts. My favorite is “volleyball on scooters” - the rules are always changing and not very clear, and for some reason, kids always win.
We have our family outings to the beach. Kids run around with our dogs in the sand, (leashed of course! Not the kids, the dogs), while I do my exercises. That’s how I got a few clients, actually. They saw me exercising - and et voila!
“Kids are great imitators - give them something good to imitate!”
And I bet you know a few as well. Maybe you are one of ‘them’.
You might look at your partner lying on the couch in sweats and beer and think - “how did I get here? Is this all there it is?”
When you see yourself in the mirror, do you pull your breast where they used to be? Suck in your belly? Or just turn away?
“Society makes us feel like when we have downtime, we should be spending it on work, creating more work, or helping someone with their work,” says Jaime Kulaga, Ph.D. and licensed mental health counselor.
“Going to the gym or exercising in the park, meditating, or taking time to create fun and happy moments isn’t on that list, so we get sucked into feeling guilty from the pressures society puts on us.”
I say fudge society! If you want to lose weight, eat healthily, regain your vitality and sexuality, meditate on the beach, exercise or just lay down in the grass and watch the clouds - you go and do that! But first - call me - and I help you plan!
“Plan your day around your goals, not your goals around your day!”
I know YOU CAN! Do you?