Expert Contributor

As a mom, I agree nothing is more important than your children’s health and happiness. What I do not agree with, is that in order for our children to be happy, we must sacrifice our own well-being. Making time for ourselves is challenging, but it will make it much easier to be the fully present, patient, energetic, and giving moms our children so desire us to be! Achieving health requires balance and attention, encompassing whole-mind, -body, and -spirit wellness.

Studies have shown huge connections between physical and spiritual well-being, as disconnects translate to illness. It is our job, as moms, to make sure we stay as healthy as we can so that we can best provide care and happiness to our families in the long run. Sacrificing yourself, or being a martyr, for the sake of your kids’ immediate needs, may mean risking your long-term ability to provide your children with the role model (and energy force) they need life-long. Getting back into your skinnies may seem like a superficial goal, but striving towards health is not. Below, I give you some tips to keep your health and wellness on the radar while raising small kids!

Step 1: Wake up early and move for one whole hour

skinny mom downward dog yoga pose

No matter how many times your baby got up, or your job kept you up checking emails… get up early! Staying ahead of schedule will free up some time for you and give you the energy to deal with kids, work or whatever else may come your way. Do not put off you-time for later, as it will most likely get consumed! Furthermore:

Make sure you stretch and sweat. Stretching will keep those joints well fed and muscles lean and long. Sweating will assure you have pushed yourself hard enough to stimulate that metabolism!

Motivate yourself with the promise of your favorite cup of green tea or coffee and a plate of fruit. If you are not motivated by this try some other Skinny Mom recipes…smoothies, eggs and whole grains await!

Step 2: Meditate for 10 minutes

woman meditating in bedroom with candles

As exercise is rejuvenating for the body, meditation is rejuvenation for the mind. Some of the easiest forms of medication could be listening to your slow and deep breath, or humming “OHHHMMMMM” while you feel the vibration resonate through your body. Meditation can be difficult to squeeze in a crazy day with kids and work. My recommendation:

If you are home with children, do it after putting kids down for afternoon nap and before lunch.

If you are working, you can try and take a slow walk outside focusing on breathing and repeating something like “Let go” or “Thank You”. Make sure you breathe in and out through your nose only, and take at least 5 long seconds on the inhalation and 5 long seconds on your exhalation.

Set a stopwatch for the allocated amount of time you have to meditate; this will help you focus on the practice and not on the clock.

Step 3: Stop eating sweets, processed foods and bread

fruit and granola yogurt parfait

Sorry, but these are just not nutritious enough (or at all) to keep in your diet! Furthermore, eating these foods are usually the biggest risk factors for weight gain. At minimum, try consuming these foods only for special “cheat meals” and stricken them from your family’s cupboards. Not only will your waistline and your thighs thank you, but so will your entire family’s health. Some Tips:

Try keeping dark chocolate and red wine on hand for emergency sweet attacks. Dark chocolate is low on the glycemic index (will not spike blood sugar), is high in plant-derived antioxidants, and low in saturated fat. Red wine also brings some cardiovascular protective and antioxidant benefits when used in moderation (no more than 5 glasses a week or 1 per day).

Serve fruit with low-fat yogurt to your children for dessert, sprinkle a little cinnamon instead of sugar to naturally give flavor to oatmeal or warm cereal, and put out a plate of carrots, raisins and nuts for snacks! Teaching your family to appreciate the natural sweetness of these foods will help them develop a good relationship with real food and keep sugar addiction away!

Step 4: Get a massage once a month

woman getting a back massage

If you did not think so already, you may now all consider me crazy! I know it sounds like a dream, but find a way to get this ultimate wellness experience. Massage immensely benefits the mind and body, decreasing stress hormones, regulating normal hormones, eliminating toxins, and just making you feel healthy!

If you can’t afford to pay for a massage, get your husband to dedicate one night a month to making you feel relaxed, promising him one night a month as well.

Alternatively, plan an exchange with a fellow mommy followed by some herbal tea and fruit. Trust me, this will be the best spent mommy time ever!

Step 5: Start a Pinterest account and start creating your online vision board

woman on laptop at home

Visualization is motivation. Use your Pinterest account to pin the visions of the qualities you want to be able to give to your children and be for yourself. It’s important to take 5-10 minutes of your day, thinking ahead of present day challenges.

Pin photos of the type of mom you want to be, the types of healthy foods you want to make for your kids, the type of work your want to encourage, the type of wife/friend/family member you want to be, etc.

It’s so important to keep perspective of long-term goals and not focus on “getting through the day.” This gives inspiration and motivation to both short- and long-term tasks and dreams.

Step 6: Listen to grown-up music, wear form-fitting clothes, and dance at least 3 times a week

woman dancing at home in her family room

I have no scientific insight to give you on this one, just that these little habits build awareness around who you are. There is nothing like (a) listening to music outside of the kinder-ish library, (b) wearing clothes made to be seen by others, and (c) dancing to the beat. All three of these activities reinvigorate feelings of youth and well-being. Some tips:

Instead of those “comfy” after-work or -shower clothes, put on something that makes you want to “suck-it-in” a little. It will help you stay mindful of your weight, your meals, and your digestive state.

Turn off the TV and put music on while cooking and cleaning up. Make sure to give your kiddo a twirl, show off the person you have hidden inside, and laugh. There is no better way to inspire a happy home-ambiance or to get your kids smiling than to see there mom joyful and silly!

For those of you who love/miss putting heels on, now is your chance to get them out and give your glutes a nice toning exercise.

I hope you enjoyed this short resume on keeping things light, happy, and healthy during these challenging mommy years. I know it’s tough to keep things balanced when you have cute little monsters at home waiting to be loved. Sleep and free time may seem like necessary sacrifices, but remember, there are other things you can do to keep your self the hippest, youngest, and healthiest you. Focusing on nutrition, keeping energy high, and spirits lifted, will keep you balanced and better able to adjust to life and your families needs. As children grow, it is important that we do not lose track of who we are. They will need us to show them what a well-rounded individual looks like. A world of happy and healthy parents will ultimately assure future generations of healthy, happy and confident children!

About the ExpertJelena Petkovic has worked in the realm of aesthetic dermatology for the past 10 years. She began her career in Miami and most notably at the Miami Institute of Age Preservation and Intervention. In Miami, she was able to learn and grow alongside some of the best dermatologists, aesthetic surgeons and wellness experts. Her experience enabled her to practice cosmetic dermatology in some of the most renowned clinics. After moving to Europe in 2007, she began her career as a medical educator and clinical specialist.