Why is it that the kids have all the energy, but they’re the ones who get to nap?
Parenting is one of the most rewarding jobs in the world, but it’s also exhausting. You are on duty 24-7, no weekends off or sick days. It’s easy to focus on your kids and neglect yourself, but that’s not good for you or them.
Ideally, all moms would get eight hours of sleep and rise refreshed. But most of us know that’s not realistic. Instead, here are some quick and realistic tips from parenting experts on how you can recharge your own energy tank.
1. Guzzle a Bottle of Water.
Mild dehydration can affect your body even before you know you’re thirsty, and may leave you with headaches, fatigue, and lack of energy. “When I want a quick pick-me-up, I stop and drink a full bottle of water,” says Tammy Gold, a psychotherapist and parenting coach, and the mother of three girls ages 6 and under.
2. Take a Bath or Shower.
“There’s nothing like taking all your clothes off and taking a bath or shower in the middle of the day to make you feel like a totally new person,” Gold says.
3. Be a “Bad Mom.”
To get even five minutes for an energy boost, you may need a quick break from the kids. If they’re not in school or day care, that may mean relying on the dreaded TV for at least a short time. “I tell moms that it’s OK to put kids in front of the TV or put the baby in her crib or play yard for 15- 20 minutes to recharge yourself,” Gold says. “Turn on Sesame Street or an educational DVD. They’ll get a much more present, happier you if you occasionally allow yourself a break like that than if you’re watching them like a hawk every second.
4. Get Moving.
Studies have found regular exercise is better than a nap for boosting your energy levels. But constant reminders to fit an hour’s worth of exercise into every day can be daunting. Forget the perfect and go for what you can do instead. Take a quick walk around the block with your child in the stroller, or just stand up from your desk to do some stretches. (You can set your computer alarm to remind you.) Or take advantage of playtime with your kids: have a race in the park or roller skate. Too cold? Try a physically active video game like Wii tennis or put on some music and dance.
5. Don’t Skip Breakfast!
You’re vigilant about making sure your kids get a healthy breakfast before they head out the door. But what about you? A cup of coffee does not equal a healthy start to the day (and no, two cups don’t make it better). Studies have found that people feel more satisfied by food eaten in the morning, a feeling that can translate into better energy for your day.
6. Keep Your Blood Sugar Steady.
You feel drained. You grab a candy bar or a soda for a quick sugar rush. The energy burst lasts for a short time and then you crash, feeling more tired than before. Sound familiar? Wild fluctuations in your blood sugar can be rough on your energy level. Instead, eat regular small snacks to keep on an even keel. “Two hours after breakfast, I’ll have a banana with peanut butter,” says Gold. “Two hours after that, I’ll have Greek yogurt with honey.” Keep snacks in your purse that combine carbs with protein for a slow release of energy — like trail mix, peanut butter crackers, protein bars, and small containers of veggies and hummus.
7. Change Your Clothes.
No, really. If you’re sitting around in baggy sweats or your pajamas, it can actually make you feel more tired and rundown, Gold says. You don’t have to put on a skirt or suit, but a switch from sweats to slacks and a cute top can make you feel like a new person.
8. Give Yourself a Bedtime.
Maybe eight hours’ sleep isn’t realistic for a mom of young kids, but you can’t survive on five. “There’s no quick cure for a lack of sleep, no matter how much caffeine you ingest,” says Debi Silber, MS, RD, a personal trainer and lifestyle coach and the author of A Pocket Full of Mojo: 365 Proven Strategies To Create Your Ultimate Body, Mind, Image and Lifestyle. “Seeking energy through caffeine or sugar just leaves you tired and wired and prone to weight gain.” Try this experiment: for one week, go to bed one hour earlier than you usually do, every night. Don’t veg out in front of the TV or the iPad. See how much more energy you have by the beginning of the next week.
9. Spend Real Time with Your Child.
Sometimes taking a break from parenting can give you the energy you need — but the right kind of mommy-child time can refill your tank. “Take 15 minutes and just play with them. Abandon yourself completely to the play without a deadline or timeline or goal,” says Stephanie Somanchi, PhD, an executive life coach who has worked with Nike and U.S. Bank. “You’ll find yourself empty and dry at the end of the day if all your interactions with your kids are about getting dressed, eating meals, and getting in and out of the house.”