Do you feel happy and joyful most of the time? Or consistently exhausted and overwhelmed?
Are you in good enough shape to bike, run and chase your children around?
I have spoken with so many families this month who are in the position of having too many things to do, too little time…and what frequently suffers is the basic need of the body and soul for health. Sleep, cooking from scratch, having time to relax and rest, time to exercise, time to just BE can all be really difficult to come by when you have small children, (and I think especially when one is homeschooling and has small children about all the time). There is no turning a walk into an aerobic exercise with a small child in tow who wants to stop and examine every cute little ant on the ground. That is just the reality!
But, the other reality is that one cannot neglect one’s health for years on end either. Some mothers seem to have this idea that if they can just wait until their youngest child is “X” age, then this is when their family will be getting into shape and will take better care of their health then.
My husband and I are working on revolutionizing our family life this year toward even better health. We have always been fairly health conscious in terms of our food, using alternative health care, getting outside daily, not watching media (which is time you could spend in getting outside!), but this year we really wanted to put some specific things into place. And sometimes that is hard, because we are apart most of the week, every week, all year long due to my husband’s work. It is harder to urge each other on to do healthy things, like exercising without the children, when you are not even together to support each other in person! So, here are some things we are trying:
Playing more for fun! We have been playing a lot of soccer in our backyard with the kids and the dog, and we all love it. This is also great family bonding after we have been apart all week. We also enjoy walking to our local park and on trails. We love hiking in our state’s forests, but since that usually involves getting in a car to drive somewhere, we are carefully looking at how much we want to actually be in a car.
Exercising alone if possible. Before I went to physical therapy school, I was heavily into bodybuilding and running gyms. I don’t get a chance to work out like that anymore, but finding some time to exercise alone each week is important.
Putting limits on our computer time. Always a given, but sometimes more difficult to do at different times depending upon what is going on at my husband’s work or in my volunteer life. People think if you blog that must mean you are on the computer all the time, but that to me, is simple to control: most of my posts are written in my head and I can type them in very quickly when I get on the computer. And, I can set blog posts to send out automatically. Blog posts are generally the least of my worries in terms of computer time.
Saying NO to things that are infringing on our family time; really doing a better job guarding our family time and keeping us all together…sometimes this can be harder with children who have large age gaps between them with outside activities, so really being able to evaluate those activities is important. Are they activities that are just SO beneficial for the one child and because it is so needed it really has to happen for right now, or can we look to see what we can let go, or can we look to see if there is something the children could all do together at the same place or at least in the same vicinity? Family is still the best practice ground for learning ethics, learning to work, learning to get along.
Planning our meals, and making and keeping our doctor, dentist and alternative health care provider appointments for our own health.
Learning more about herbs that can be beneficial for immunity. Combining bone broths with herbs has been really helpful to us this winter season.
A huge part of our health centers around our religious home; our place of worship is like a big, warm, loving family. Many studies have shown that folks who have a place of worship and who are connected into the Divine and to other people in community live longer. I see many families who go around and around about the food and what they should and shouldn’t be eating, but with no thought of spiritual community at all, and I find that very odd.
Schedule vacations! So important to look at the time you can garner together throughout the entire year.
Stop being fearful. I see so many people who are fearful of everything for their children, and their children are fearful and anxious. I think counseling can be so important for dealing with fears, and also to stop carrying around your past. If you continually are parading your past around, you can’t move forward. Find someone to talk to that can help you. That is an important aspect of health!
Setting boundaries around people that are negative and not supportive. Some women I have observed can only seem to do this by physically separating themselves and their families from others, and I agree there are some people that are so toxic that this is really the only solution. However, another aspect to think of with people that you are just having a more challenging road with is that maybe you and this person were brought together to influence each other and to learn from each other. Honest, adult conversation with a lot of “I” statements about what you need in the relationship, what you do and don’t want, would help both of you grow. Learning how to set boundaries in a kind way, a loving way, with love for others and not just running away is so important.. Again, here a good mental health counselor or your rabbi, priest, spiritual leader can sometimes really help you figure this out. What an amazing skill to be able to model for your children!
Lastly, give back. It is a fine line between taking care of yourself so you have something to give to others, and to become so “health conscious” that everything is centered around that, and around you. Is life really all about you? Your children? There has to be a balance between you, your family, and hopefully a community you are involved in. How are you helping and reaching out to others outside of your own children? That, to me, is another facet of life.
I would love to hear how you are revolutionizing your health and your family’s health this year!