Many mothers focus on the health of their children above their own, but how can they renew their own health?
Marisa Piccarreto, owner and founder of My Fabulous Mama, a Center City baby-planning service, says new moms and mothers with young children are stretched thin. “With the size of families shrinking, families delaying the age which they begin to have children, and individuals living in different communities than which they were born, many families having children today lack the extended family of support that has been the pillar of raising children for millennia,” says Piccarreto. (See her tips for healthy habits at right.)
Make time for yourself, mom
“As a mother living in the city with young children, how do you find time to focus on you and your health? That is the million-dollar question isn’t it?” asks Lisa, a Center City mom of three who has three jobs outside of the home.
She says just finding a minute for herself can be a challenge. “But when you gain a total of 160 pounds during your three pregnancies, and you are used to being fit and healthy, it becomes non-negotiable. We all get the same 24 hours in a day – it is how we choose to use it,” Lisa says.
She realized that in order to find time, she had to cut out unnecessary things that kept her from achieving her goal. “While I love a good TV show or a late-night movie, they were not helping me stay fit and healthy; in fact, they probably were doing the opposite. Think of those few things that you can put to the side for the time being, so you can better focus on the goal at hand,” she says. “No one said it would be easy; sacrifice will be necessary.”
Mothers need a plan to succeed. “That includes not only exercise, but proper nutrition and rest. I block out the days and times I am going to exercise and make sure I have coverage for the kids. Whether that means a super early morning or a late night, if it is important to my goal, I make it work,” she adds.
Being fit to Lisa means both mind and body, so she began to not only read again but read things that challenge her and help her stay positive.
Physical fitness leads to mental fitness
Sharon, a mom of three in the Graduate Hospital area of Philadelphia, says she finds it challenging, as a mother who works outside the home, to renew her health. She has grown as a mother over the last eight years and works to put herself first in order to take care of her children and perform to a high standard in her professional life.
“My mental health is of critical importance to my physical health and ability to care for my children. I learned this during treatment for postpartum depression after my oldest was born,” says Sharon. “For me, it is effective and possible to take short periods of time to renew my own health. These may seem easy to accomplish or trivial, but they are neither.”
Taking a 30-minute run or a 15-minute exercise session by herself are the ways in which Sharon takes charge of her health, mainly her emotional health. Having a supportive husband has been another critical factor. In addition, visiting family members and occasional babysitters enable her to have some time by herself to boost her energy and mental clarity. She has also found it possible to reinvigorate her health while in the company of three young children.
“Creating a peaceful environment in our house, where they are at ease, gives us all a health-promoting environment; this is rejuvenating for me. When I see them interact positively with one another (playing or reading cooperatively, for example), this renews my energy,” adds Sharon.
Erin Jay is a Philadelphia freelance writer.