You Don’t Have to Be a Super Parent To Be A Healthy One

Mamas and Papas, you have my respect! Juggling life with babies seems like an undertaking designed for the bravest of folks. Add healthy living to the mix and it can be down right intimidating. Over the past 10 years I have worked with many Moms and the common thread between these women is a deep desire to get healthy and raise a healthy family. However, in a world where the pressure is on to be constantly plugged in and on the go, tackling ways to incorporate healthy habits can be overwhelming to say the least. In my experience with various parents, there seems to be consistent angst surrounding similar issues such as family dinners, having time for workouts, and getting kids to eat veggies. I have compiled this list of tips that have helped my Mommy clients. I hope that it will be of value to you as well. Do you have any tips for busy parents? I would love to hear from you in the comments below.

1. Fun meals! I commonly hear that women are preparing multiple meals every night for dinner because baby, older bro, daddy and mama all have different tastes! Meal time becomes a production as parents tries to make something that everyone will eat. “Fun meals” can be a solution to this. Meals such as taco night, salad night, Buddha bowl night, and pizza night,  are fun for kids. You can do a few of them in the same week by pre-chopping tomatoes, peppers, onions, sautéed greens, mushrooms, or whatever veggies your kids like. Put each veggie in a separate container in the fridge. Then for each theme night simply change the base (i.e. taco shell, brown rice, salad greens)  and allow each family member to build their own dish. For example, start with taco night and have each family member stuff their own taco shell then the next night have Buddha bowl night and cook one pot of brown rice or shirataki noodles. Every kid gets their own bowl of rice or noodles and then can add the veggies they like. You can also include store bought sauces, salsa, guacamole, fun salad toppers like nut mixes, or even various herbs and spices. Think creatively about the base items as well; sweet potatoes, quinoa, or zucchini ribbons also make a fun base. Obviously, all of this depends on the pickiness of the child but its a great way to make it personalized with out having to make a different meal for everyone.

2. Look into grocery delivery services such as Fresh Direct. Grocery shopping is a major time sucker. These companies make it easy to create shopping lists and reorder from previous orders. The initial set up can take up to 15 minutes, but after the first time, you are only a few clicks away from having your family’s favorite items at your door step. Also, consider having a personal assistant, baby sitter, or housekeeper to assist with grocery shopping and picking up speciality items from the health food store. Company’s like Task Rabbit can be used on an as-needed bases.

3. Smoothies are fast and easy. Smoothies are a great option for breakfast or snacks.You can hide tons of veggies from the kids and the clean up is fast compared to other meals.  Frozen veggies and fruits work great! Keep frozen produce stocked in your freezer for easy access on busy days.

4. Batch cooking is helpful. Set aside an hour or two one day out of the week and make several things such as frittatas, soups, hard boiled eggs, sautéed veggies, etc. These things can be easily reheated later or added to tops of mixed greens for easy salads. I recruit my husband to help me. We finish batch cooking in no time!

5. Exercise for only 5 minutes. Too busy to make it to the gym? No problem, try doing interval training for only 5-10 minutes every day. Intervals can be a great alternative to a long 45 minute workouts. Intervals have been proven to be more effective than long, steady-state cardio and you can squeeze them into your schedule much easier.

6. Play games. No need to carve out hours of time for workouts. Just be active with your family. Playing games with the kiddos like tag, hide and seek, duck duck goose, football, baseball, catch, etc. ensure that you are running around while they are. This is a great way to squeeze in exercise.

7. Consider doing a meal swap. Doing a meal swap with several other families that also want to eat healthy can save time. For example, you can coordinate with two other moms for a once a week meal exchange. Each mom will cook only one meal but with enough portions for all the families in the swap. This ensures that three dinners are taken care of during the week but each mom only cooked once. This is great to do with other families whose kids go to the same school as your kids because there is a convenient time to exchange meals during drop off and pick up.

By Allison Vernon-Thompson