Are you concerned about your own health, fitness, and nutrition as a working parent? If yes, you’re not alone. When a baby (or babies) and children arrive on the scene, so many new parents discover that their margin for any type of self-care (even basics like showering) goes out the window. It takes so much to keep our little ones alive and healthy that we often put our own well-being after theirs.
Today, I’m honored to bring to the Mindful Return blog a working mama who: (1) truly gets it and is living in the trenches with you! And (2) is a dietitian nutritionist and fitness specialist, so has the deep knowledge and skills to back up her helpful suggestions. Beth Auguste is joining us today to share some extremely practical recommendations that will help you get movement and nourishment into your days, even while working and parenting.
I was first introduced to Beth by a Mindful Return alum who loves her programs, and we are big fans of one another’s work. Welcome, Beth!
Setting Boundaries with Transition Rituals that Use Movement and Nourishment.
Last year I had a wonderful conversation with Lori about boundary setting. We talked about how important it is to remind yourself that you exist for more reasons than simply to meet the needs of your boss, your family, and your children. (You can listen to that conversation here.)
In a nutshell, we agreed that you can and should find moments to check in with yourself every single day. Being a little bit selfish is important, even if it has to happen in micro doses.
Friend, I know you know this, but I’m saying it anyway: You should want to take care of yourself for your own SELF. But I wouldn’t be surprised if you told me that you feel more motivated by taking care of others. So hear this. You need to take care of yourself so that you are capable of taking care of your family, your job, you know, all.your.things.
Maybe right now you are thinking “Yeah, of course I know I need to take care of myself. That’s not the issue. The issue is that I have no time. I’m always running from one thing to the next. I can’t possibly add something else to my plate.”
I get you. Believe me, as a small business owner who is also a mom to a 1 year old and 4 year old, I often feel like I barely have time to do a single thing for myself. So I get it.
But I know how much of a difference self-care can make. And I think you know that too.
Something stuck with me after my conversation with Lori. She described how she uses a “separation” or “transition” ritual to move from one activity to the next.
In Lori’s transition ritual from family-time to work-time, she described having her kids hug, kiss and then push her out the door to send her to the office. This ritual only lasts a few seconds. But it allows everyone a chance to reset and reframe for the next activity.
Lori shared with me that neuroscience suggests it only takes 17 seconds of holding a positive thought or feeling to change our brain state.
Imagine that! Taking 17 seconds to close your eyes and think happy thoughts can reset and refresh you for the next task on your list.
For Lori, this 17 seconds looks like a hug, kiss and push from her kids. Maybe for you it can look like a 17 second stretch and smile break…
Let’s pause and think about this.
What if your transition ritual could do double duty?
It can provide a boundary for you between one activity and the next. And it can also be a way to work movement or nourishment into your day. You can get a mental refresh, while also taking a micro moment to do something healthy for your body. It’s a win win.
Okay, Okay, As a health professional who helps busy parents figure out how to take care of their wellness and make themselves a priority again, I know that this concept of squeezing in small routine changes can feel much easier said than done.
It can become one of those, “I know I should. But for some reason it doesn’t happen,” situations.
Which makes sense. When you are running on limited time, bandwidth, and sleep (!), you may find that you don’t even think. You merely default to an unhealthy autopilot. Or you just feel too overwhelmed to figure out which transition tool will give you the most bang for your buck.
And that’s why I’m here. To help you figure out the best way to capitalize on this concept, so you can feel your best.
I’ve put together three of my favorite strategies that have helped many of my clients create a doable food & fitness routine. And I know they can work for you too!
The format for these strategies is based on habit stacking. “When X happens, do Y.”
Check them out and try to work these into your daily routine:
- When this happens: When a meeting ends at work.
Do this: Don’t just dive from a meeting straight into your inbox. Instead, get habituated to standing up immediately after the meeting is over (every time). Take a walk to the bathroom, or simply stand in place and stretch. Set a timer for one minute and move your body, in whatever way feels good. Don’t stop moving for that full minute.
End goal: Get used to movement as the end-cap to your meeting. Stack that habit to develop a healthy autopilot, where walking or stretching become a default part of your transition rituals.
- When this happens: When you take a bathroom break.
Do this: Don’t just head straight back to your computer. Take a walk by the kitchen/water cooler, and give yourself a refill. Ask yourself, when is the next time you’ll have a break to eat? Bring a meal or snack back to your desk as needed. Don’t sit down before you’ve taken a few gulps of your drink.
End goal: You’ll start to habit stack bathroom breaks and hydration.
- When this happens: It’s the end of your workday.
Do this: Before you close your laptop, ask yourself how long has it been since the last time you ate, and how long will it be until your next meal. Chances are that you’ve got a lot of errands or obligations to tackle before dinner time. Go grab a snack and spend two minutes eating it as you wrap up your work.
End goal: You’ll be less hangry by dinner.
If you’d like to chat about these transition rituals or share another one that works for you, then please visit me over in my (free) private WhatsApp group 👀 Get Refreshed 😜.
Feeling ready for an even more immersive experience? Check out this free 5 day Refresh, where I’ll help you figure out how to fit in food and fitness. Even when you are a parent.
Or check out the full 6 month Refresh program. The online group course that helps you fit in exercise and eat better – while being a parent.
Beth Auguste MS RDN CSOWM WFS is a dietitian nutritionist, women’s fitness specialist and founder of The Refresh, the online group program that helps busy parents feel their best using food, fitness, mindset and community. When Beth became a mom in 2018 she discovered that she thought she knew her craft. But she had no idea of the struggle she would face in finding time to take care of herself. She created her business, Be Well with Beth, to help busy parents just like you feel good, energized and like you can handle the chaos of life with young kids.
Beth holds a MS in nutrition from Boston University, a BA in psychology from Emory University and is the winner of a 2022 Main Line Family LOVE award and Philadelphia LOVE awards in 2020, 2021 and 2022. You can e-mail her at Hello@bewellwithbethphl.com.
Want more practical tips on working parenthood? Check out my book, Back to Work After Baby: How to Plan and Navigate a Mindful Return from Maternity Leave