Being a work at home mom is no joke. I won’t get into the debate of who works harder, moms working outside the home, or stay at home moms, or work at home moms…. If you’re a mother…you’re automatically a working mom. The end. Kids are a full time job, period. And they are the hardest work I’ve done. I enjoy being a work at home mom (WAHM) and wouldn’t trade it for the world. Being at home throughout the day with children is a privilege that offers many benefits to us as a family, but health-wise can have a lot of drawbacks.
When I was working a 9-5 job in NY during my lunch hour I would go right downstairs to the gym. Super convenient. My lunches were healthy because it was just as easy to grab a pre-made salad as it was a burger. At home, with children, and working on building my business, I have new challenges in my healthy lifestyle journey. As work at home moms we are constantly trying to balance (even though balance is a deceiving term) getting work done and growing our business, with keeping house, taking good care of the kids, giving spouse attention and oh yeah…maybe a little self care too. We’re running from store to event, to playground, we’re cooking meal after meal, balancing the budget, cleaning up, doing laundry, planning, fixing, tweaking… and maybe actually working to earn our income. Between all of these obligations, it’s easy to grab unhealthy snacks, munch on the kids’ stuff, skip workouts, procrastinate or get so bogged down that we don’t take the proper care of ourselves.
I have found a few tricks that help me keep my healthy habits a big part of my life without letting other areas suffer. Maybe they’ll work for you too:
Put Junk/Kids Foods Out of Sight
Out of sight out of mind. Right? Wrong. (you know exactly where you hid the damn cookies. stop it.) But out of sight, less likely to binge on! I recently did a dump of all the processed foods, white sugar, white flour leftover, etc. I took it out of the cabinets and gave some way, tossed some out. It just had to go. Now, we do have some “junk” food left, and those are on the top shelf and only come out randomly for the kids. (I literally have to get a chair to climb up and get down their mac n cheese boxes) The fridge only has healthy foods (except for my mom’s jams for the kids pb&j sandwiches) If you don’t toss your favorite junk foods, I suggest you have your spouse hide the items and make sure he or she is strong enough not to bend and give them to you when you’re feeling hangry. (This tip works for moms that work outside the home too!)
Make Play and Exercise Synonymous
Using playtime for exercise is the easiest way to sneak it in while working from home. Try to start thinking of them as the same thing instead of viewing exercise as drudgery you have to “make it through.”
At the playground I get it in. When we’re out in the backyard I do walking lunges, and jump squats all around the yard. The kids and I play tag (better known as “i’m gunna getcha” in our house) and pretend we’re animals zooming through the forest. I make our daily walks more of a workout for me by adding in sprints. “Ok Ro, let’s hop like a bunny to that tree down there.” walk to recover “Now let’s go fast like a race car to that mailbox” etc. etc. (bonus: this wears their little butts out, and makes going down for naptime less of a hassle. #momwins)
My 5k training would likely be more sporadic if John didn’t lose his mind and challenge me to a monthly mileage competition on the Nike+ Running app. This fool’s about to get smoked, but whatever… The point is that a little healthy competition is a great motivator for the work at home mom. Use Dietbet or other apps to compete with others digitally, or challenge your spouse or even your kids to little competitions around the house. (Planking contests, etc) You can get some friends together that have similar goals and encourage each other (while silently vowing to beat them at whatever it is.) Signing up for a 5k may be the motivation you need to start moving. Download a couch to 5k app on your phone and follow along with a friend or whoever you’re competing with.
Change your workout mindset
This is something I am still working on. I’m conditioned from organized sports in HS and college to go hard and long. Short bursts don’t feel like they’re “working” but I know intellectually that it all makes a difference. So I encourage you to work on your exercise mindset as well. What old mindset do you have to break?
Old: Workouts take long and are boring // New: Short workouts are effective and fun
Old: I hate cardio/running/treadmills etc. // New: Dancing is fun cardio that I can do at home
Old: I dont like/dont have weights/gym. // New: I can get a full workout using just my body weight at home
Old: I have no space at home to work out // New: I don’t need a lot of space to work out
Schedule in Fit Breaks
Every work at home mama knows that sometimes you can get into the zone and just work work work without breaks. You’re grinding away at the computer, all hunched over and tensed up and don’t even realize it until you’re so daggone tired and your eyes are killing you and you’ve got a crick in your neck. Please try not to make that a habit. (I’m talking to myself here too.) Every now and then stand up, stretch, walk around your house, or around the block, take deep breaths, drink some water, and then return to work. You can set your alarm for these.
On days that I don’t have both children, I’m able to get work done during the day. At the top of each hour I will get up, do some ab workouts or jog around the house and sip on water. I reward myself for this by making my “fit break time” also my “check facebook guiltlessly for a couple minutes time.” Hey, whatever works for you!
We have 5011 things to take care of as WAHMs and our fitness and well being has to be a priority. If mommy’s not healthy, the household suffers. So, try these techniques above, or come up with your own healthy habits and share them below!