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When you’re a mom, it can be hard to find the time and the energy to get fit. Exercise may not be your priority when you’ve got a screaming baby to tend to, toddlers to entertain or older kids to get to school on time. If you’ve never exercised before or you’ve taken months or years off, it’s so beneficial to get into a workout regime. Exercise has such incredible benefits for your physical health, but it can also have an incredibly positive impact on your psychological wellbeing and your confidence. If you’d like to be more active, here are some tips to help you do just that.

Seek advice

If you’re new to exercise, it can be a pretty daunting prospect, and this is where expert advice comes in handy. You could join a gym and work with a trainer . You could book some personal training sessions at home, or you could enroll in an online training program. Working with somebody who has experience in helping people reach their fitness goals will enable you to hit your goal. If you walk into a gym and you don’t have the first idea about which machines to use or how to use them, there’s a good chance you’ll lose interest quickly, and you could even injure yourself. Starting off with some guidelines will help you build up your fitness gradually and enable you to learn different skills, vary your workouts, and find out what kinds of activities and exercises you enjoy most.

Be sociable

If you’re a mom who often dreams about your pre-baby body, you’re definitely not alone. If you don’t want to work out on your own, why not join classes or ask a friend to join you for a jog? You can even look for classes that are designed for moms or sessions that are geared towards mothers and children. Some people find the prospect of going to a class on their own daunting, and having a buddy there will give you moral support. It’s often more fun to exercise with a friend too. Going to classes and group sessions can also help you expand your social circle and enjoy a bit of ‘me time’ away from your kids.

Find the right environment for you

There are so many ways you can get fit, and it’s important to find an environment that suits you. Many people enjoy going to the gym, running in the park or attending classes, but for some, the idea of exercising around others is terrifying. If you lack confidence in the way you look, or you’re embarrassed about your fitness levels, you don’t have to give up on your training goals. You could even set up your own mini gym at home. You could buy an exercise DVD (think Jillian Michaels) or an online workout to shape up. Whatever your preferences, you can tailor your regime to suit you. Don’t throw yourself into something if you don’t feel comfortable. You may find that starting out at home works for you and as you get more confident, you may be more open to social activities and classes.

Get your diet right

When you’re working out, it’s essential to get your diet right. Whether you’re trying to lose weight or tone up, your body needs fuel. You might think that you need to eat less if you’re trying to lose weight, but surviving on plates of leaves isn’t going to do you any good. You need energy to get through your workouts and get the most out of every session. If you’re not eating much, you won’t be able to work out to the best of your ability, your health will suffer, and your metabolism will slow down. Ask your trainer about meal plans or look online for a nutrition guide. Work out your ideal calorie intake based on your height and weight, your activity levels and your training goals, and use a food diary to keep track of your food intake.

Set a goal

When you’re starting a new fitness program, it’s always beneficial to have a target in mind. What is your long-term goal and what do you want to achieve along the way? Do you want to lose weight or do you simply want to feel more confident in your own skin? Do you want to train for a 10k run or are you desperate to tone up your tummy? Whatever your objective, focus on what you want from your routine and use it as a source of motivation.

Exercise can be fun

There’s an assumption that exercise is boring, but this definitely isn’t true. When you’re thinking about exercise, choose something you enjoy doing and make time for fun. You don’t have to jog for miles or lift weights over and over again. Switch things up. Go to salsa classes, let your hair down at Zumba, relax at a yoga session or take the kids skating. There are so many ways you can build your fitness and burn calories without feeling like every second is a chore.

It can be hard for moms to find time for exercise, but if you can spare 30 minutes or an hour a few times per week, you’ll enjoy incredible benefits. Seek expert advice to get you started, try and exercise with friends and have fun and design a program that suits you and makes you feel comfortable and confident. Good luck!

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Do you ever feel guilty of thinking about giving yourself a break? If so, you are in excellent company. The modern mom often has to juggle parenting, work, and to look after the household, which leaves little time for anything else. The trouble is, ‘me time’ is important if you want to reduce your levels of stress, recharge yourself, and even be a better parent. Here are some reasons why me-time is so critical to your health and happiness, and why you shouldn’t feel so guilty about taking a time out every now and again. Read on to find out more!

It’s natural.

Humans have evolved to take regular rest, but when you first have kids, it’s the start of a long process that involves losing sleep and expending more energy than you ever have before. Wakeful nights, more chores, and the emotional stresses and strains of looking after a baby or two will take their toll, and taking a break and getting some well-deserved rest is your body’s way of recovering.

It’s healthy.

Make no mistake about it, all this stress build-up is incredibly dangerous. It can lead to chronic, long-term health problems, both in mind and body. Stress can also mess up your immune system, and lead to severe conditions such as high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease. It leads to psychological issues like depression, too, which could prove to be a terrible outcome for your ability to look after your children.

You need sleep to function.

As with anything else in life, your ability to perform in tasks is highly affected by the amount of sleep you have. And you will lose a lot of sleeping hours when you have a baby – it’s completely unavoidable in the vast majority of cases – unless you are incredibly lucky. It’s important that you catch up on your lost sleep whenever you can, so perhaps think about what you can do about it. Maybe it’s time to buy some new bedroom furniture to create a relaxing environment that you can retreat to one or two nights a week. A good bed is imperative for adequate rest. Perhaps you can ask your parents to look after the kids for a couple of weekends a year so you can recharge your batteries. And perhaps you and your partner can share nighttime duties in the week, to spread the burden, so it isn’t all on you. With more rest, you can be a better mother – it’s that simple.

You’re not just a mom.

When you have children, it can kind of overwhelm you. You are fulfilling your natural function, after all, and will do anything and everything you can to give your kids the best life possible. However, you’re not just a mom. You are a wife or partner. You’re a daughter, and maybe an aunt, as well as being a friend and colleague to lots of people outside of the family. You might be an employee, employer, or self-employed worker, too. And most of all, you’re a person, who needs the simple things in life that everyone else needs to be happy and healthy. That includes taking some rest every now and again – so don’t feel guilty about it in the slightest.

Helping others is easier when you help yourself.

The reality of parenting – and life in general, actually – is that you are better at it if you are in good shape. And the stronger, healthier, and fitter you are, the better you can deal with anything parenting throws at you. So, don’t be afraid to go down to the gym two or three times a week, and put aside time in the evening to make yourself a healthy meal. Get into meditation or mindfulness, too, to clear your head and focus on yourself every once in a while. You will feel better than if you are just focusing on helping your kids 24/7, and you will do a better job of it, too.

24/7 attachment leads to problems.

Being a mom, you are tuned into your babies and children at all times. And while you might not hear this from the rather rose-tinted world of parenting bloggers, it can lead to serious problems. Spending time with anyone for this length of time, with no breaks at all, can lead to resentment and all kinds of other negative feelings kicking in – and there aren’t many moms out there who are immune to it. So, while it might go against your natural instincts, taking someone up on the offer of looking after your kids and giving you a break once a week shouldn’t be sniffed at. Sometimes, it takes an absence – even as little as an hour – to make the heart grow fonder. If you can loosen your grip, you’ll find you are still obsessed with your kids, but for all the right reasons.

You have talents to share.

Do you have any talents, or hobbies you have given up since having kids? If so, think about taking those activities up again. Not only will it help you feel like you are challenging yourself in other ways than ‘just being a mom,’ but you’ll also have those talents to share as your kids get older. Your little ones will love the fact you can paint, draw, play a musical instrument or create incredible DIY furniture, and will be inspired to follow in your footsteps. Kids are super proud of parents with talents and hobbies, and while being a mother should be your number one priority, you will find your creativity brings an extra something to your life.

You need to set a good example.

Finally, if your kids see you running around in a permanent state of exhaustion, how do you think that will affect them in their later life? If you don’t take care of yourself, and do everything for them all the time, it can have a negative impact. Yes, your kids are at the center of your universe, but it’s not good to teach them that they are the center of the actual universe. The result could be your kids growing up to be lazy, selfish, and perhaps even incapable of living life to its fullest. If you can show your kids that you take time to work out, follow your interests, and have a life outside of the family, it will rub off on them, too. The idea is to show them that you value yourself as much as you value taking care of their needs, and it’s an incredibly valuable lesson for them to learn.

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Being a mother is the hardest job in the world, and it’s not even a job. By definition, a job is something that you are remunerated for, and motherhood doesn’t come with material prizes. What it does come with is a very needy newborn baby that smells amazing. That coveted newborn baby turns your life upside down from day one. One moment you’re an independent woman doing exactly as you please with no one to be accountable for, and the next you are swimming in diapers and surviving on half an hour of sleep at a time. It’s the hardest thing any woman can do, and yet it’s the most rewarding, wonderful, amazing experience to go through. Coping with the changes to life, to your body, to your thinking and to your time is not always easy, and anyone who says it is, is kidding themselves. An experience so huge could never be an easy one; how could it be? Your entire life changes in a moment, and that’s bound to take some getting used to.

When you’re pregnant, you spend your time reading hungrily as much information as possible about being pregnant. When you approach the end game, you read as much as possible about labor and childbirth from all angles. When you give birth, you read as many books and articles as possible about raising a child and milestones. The problem with all this? Information overload! The books that you read, the articles you absorb and the blogs, social media posts, magazines and info graphics you take in all forget one thing: the baby hasn’t read them. This basically means that all the literature that you read means nothing, if your baby doesn’t do as they say. This information overload is not good for a hormonal new mother, as you can be made to feel bad about your choices. You can be made to feel guilty about the way you have chosen to raise your child. If you are a mom who is highly sensitive, this information overload can only cause more anxious thoughts to creep in, cause less sleep and more time to mull over how you could be doing it all wrong.

It’s time to take a step back, Mama. Take a step back, and recharge those batteries. You are raising babies, and those babies are not sleeping, are challenging and you can be often left feeling helpless with exhaustion. So, how can you learn to relax as a mother?

Stop Reading Everything

You need to put down those baby books and stop measuring your baby up to the expectations written within them. You don’t need all the information that the articles and books are giving you. What you need to do is know your baby and learn their routine and pattern. Shut down social media and get on the floor to play with your child.

Get Some Sleep!

Given the fact you’re a mother, this may seem like an alien concept. Rope in family and friends to help if you need to, and read about the best bedroom furniture from BestBedsBoutique.com here, so you can ensure your sleep space is perfect. The idea of snatching a decent block of sleep is a dream for most mothers, so whether you and your partner share the night shift or switch out for a decent length of sleep, you need to get something sorted. Give the baby to your partner or a trusted friend and get some shut eye in a comfy bed and a dark room.

Meditate

Trying to find five minutes for a hot drink is hard enough, but where you can, you should try to squeeze in five minutes per day meditating. We often run on auto-pilot and this always means being on the go at all times. Taking pause, closing your eyes and just breathing for a moment to slow the world down is the way to get through the exhaustion. It isn’t easy to listen to crying children or listen to the relentless cry of ‘mommy’ all day. You’re human; you’re allowed to feel overwhelmed and overstretched. Take a moment and just collect yourself. Sometimes, it’s all it takes to relax.

Wake Early

Your sleep may have been interrupted, but if your children are in a pattern where they wake at 7 a.m. each day, then set your alarm for an early rise. Once you do that, you can spend a couple of hours getting yourself ready for the day, enjoying a warm drink and having a hot shower in total peace and quiet. The gift of silence is not one that is often available to mothers, so take advantage and gear yourself up for the day.

Ask For Help

The one thing that you can do for you to help you recharge and take pause? Asking for help. No one around you is going to think less of you for saying that you are struggling. Asking people in your life for a helping hand doesn’t make you weak. It doesn’t make you helpless or unable to cope as a parent. It makes you brave. Asking for a little break to be able to snatch some sleep, a shower or a meal makes you brave, because you are taking a moment to try to recharge your batteries and you are recognizing when things become overwhelming. You don’t have to be scared to ask for help.

Self-care is not always easy, nor is it top priority when you’re a parent. The people you put before yourself are the same people snatching your sleep out from underneath you and making you feel like you can’t manage on the tiny bit of rest you get. You are absolutely killing it as a parent and you should never doubt your ability to take on the tasks before you, because you are a mother and you are the strongest link for your family. Take a moment to rest – you deserve it.

 

*This post was contributed to this site and contains affiliate links.

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We often hear “spring cleaning” get tossed around like a salad this time of year. And while I am all for cleaning out the junk in my home, I think “spring cleaning” is good for our bodies, too. And when our homes are decluttered, our spirit is lifted. A weight is removed from our shoulders.

Here in Michigan, the sun has been in hiding most of the winter. We get through our cold days with warm foods and little to no exercise. We might have good intentions to work out, but if our schedules are heavily loaded (and which they always are as moms), we push our health aside.

This time of year right now allows us to move outside more, so we might as well utilize what is given to us. Thanks, nature.

In our homes, we probably see that our garages have accumulated junk, as do our basements over the cold months. Once the sun glares into our windows, we start to notice the dust on the light fixtures we didn’t see just a month ago.

We see in a different light. The rose-colored glasses have been lifted and we notice all the clutter that is filled in our closets. So many toys our kids have and we think, “time to throw some out.” We get an extra spring in our step and we want to go for a walk, maybe a jog. Our bodies are in tune with nature, so it makes complete sense we feel the rhythm of the season.

Every year around this time of year, there are certain things I do to “cleanse” my house and body. Here are my top five:

  1. Declutter. This sounds obvious, but it’s something you really need to do at least once per year. Now is a perfect time! We accumulate too much crap, especially during the winter. We become pack rats for some reason. This is a terrific time to go through your clothing, to see what you can donate to the Salvation Army. And not only in your closet, but your children’s, too. Kids grow fast. My 5-year-old insists on wearing old clothes (even if they no longer fit), and then she looks absolutely ridiculous.
  2. Dust. If you’re like me, you do this year round. But, surprisingly enough dust isn’t always visible during the winter months (thanks to the gray skies), so make sure you get out your dust mitt and get to work! The walls, ceilings, cabinets, etc.
  3. Window Washing. Again, this is obvious, but when the windows are clean – your whole house feels better. And in the winter months, our windows in Michigan take a beating. I recently discovered Norwex products and am in love. Their window cloth is ah-maazing! You literally use water and a towel to get sparkling clean windows. It’s magic!
  4. Open your windows and/or sage your home. Let’s face it, our windows are closed all winter long. Our house wants fresh air, just like we do. So, when the temp breaks a little – crack ‘em open! And another good thing to do this time of year is to sage your home. If you don’t know what that means you can Google it. It’s basically a way to cleanse – based on Native American traditions. Many psychics, spiritual healers, believe in the power of sage to kill negative energies. I don’t know about you, but, if I can abolish any bit of negative energy, it’s worth a try.
  5. Get moving. With your body that is. Spring brings with it a feeling of renewal, a pep in your step. Go for a walk or a run. Whatever, just get moving! There are SO many great free exercise videos on YouTube. You don’t need anything but your phone to workout. So, the only excuse you can make is the kids. But they eventually sleep, right?!

I promise you, if your house is open and free from clutter and your body is given a nice dose of endorphins from exercise – you will feel an awakening! A spring awakening!

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baby-boom

“Nobody can have it all.” That is a line the character Fritz Curtis says in the movie, Baby Boom from 1987 starring the very talented, Diane Keaton. This comment in the movie is made by her boss, a man, just after he demotes her. You see, the character Diane Keaton plays, J.C. Wiatt, is a New York business woman. Her world of fancy business meetings and million dollar deals does a complete 180 when motherhood is laid upon her. I don’t want to give away the details of the movie, and if you’ve never seen it, by all means, search your On Demand or through Netflix now, because this is a must-see movie. It is your classic 80s flick, with the very sleazy James Spader, and instrumental background music in just the right places. It will pull at your heartstrings, but in a good way.

I find that will all our advances in modern technology, and the fact we are such a liberal country, the premise of this movie – from 1987  – is still very much relevant today. This movie will hit home with you. Especially if you’re a woman. Baby Boom is just what it is. A boom effect you feel after becoming a parent. Shit changes. Your life as you know it, will never, never, never be the same. Your heart will beat a little different. Your immune system will tackle random viruses. Your sleep will be lost. Your emotions will be exposed in every direction. There is no going back. And it’s not a bad thing, not a bad thing at all.

It’s actually a beautiful thing. A beautiful experience to love someone so unconditionally. And you will witness this when you watch this movie. You make sacrifices when you become a parent. Many sacrifices. Some people cannot or are not willing to make certain sacrifices. A challenge most women face is to decide to stay in the workforce, leave it to raise their family, or find employment that offers work-life balance. You would think since this movie was made (almost thirty years ago) and with the technology we have today – there would be more work from home jobs, but the cruel fact is, there just isn’t.

I consider myself to be one of the lucky ones. My employer has allowed me to work part-time for several years now. I know the society norm is for both parents to work full-time, and with the cost of living, it’s damn near impossible to have only one parent work. And that societal norm is unfair. It’s unfair to the mothers, but it’s really unfair to the child. Because the majority of women that work send their children to daycare – to someone who is not family. To someone who is a stranger to the child and parents. And usually from infancy.

Don’t get me wrong. There are many, many qualified daycare centers and providers. From a mother’s perspective, it’s just that much harder sending your child to someone you barely know and hope for the best. And that is what we moms (okay, parents) do in this country because most of us don’t have a choice.

Being a parent means accepting you cannot have it all. Unless you’re among the rich in the country of course, but if you’re like most, you are just making it – with two incomes. Accepting you cannot have it all as a woman is very important. Once you accept this, the standard you hold gets lowered.

Accepting this fact may help you breathe a bit better. You probably work 8:00ish to 5:00 p.m., deal with a commute, and rush home to get dinner on the table. Someone has to drop off and pick the kids up each day. Someone has to prep dinner. Someone has to get the kids ready for bed. Everyone needs to bathe. Both parents need to wake before the kids in the a.m. to get ready. It’s all a rush. And the itsy bitsy time you get with your child during the week might add up to 1.5 – 2.5 hours per night, depending on their bedtime. And this is our societal norm. This is what the majority of parents with young children do EVERY SINGLE DAY.

With such a rushed schedule, you can guarantee the laundry will not get touched until the weekend. The house will be in disarray during the week. Your children may feel or be neglected a bit, and it’s not for bad intentions on your part, it’s that the energy and time simply isn’t there. And if you’re trying to tone up your post-prego body, guess what? There will be no such thing as “me time” for yourself. So, accept it. Accept what Fritz from Baby Boom said. “You cannot have it all, no one can.”

Sacrifices. Sacrifices will be made. The question is… is to whom or what? And the only one that can decide that is you!

In this movie, the baby’s name is Elizabeth. She is a sweet, “agreeable” child. There truly is cinematic magic in this film – the cast is perfect. The connection between J.C. and Elizabeth feels entirely genuine. Diane Keaton wasn’t even a mother when this movie was filmed. You’d never know it. She nails the emotions we as mothers face; how you feel when leaving your child with a new sitter; how you feel when trying to juggle the work-life balance; and panic attacks. They’re real! I had my first one not too long ago.

I have a strong point to make in all of this. Please believe me when I say, when you become a mother, your world and how you view it changes. The career you worked so hard for, might just take a backseat when your baby arrives. And your employer might not care that your baby was sick all night and you didn’t get much sleep. They need you to produce. And it’s not their fault. The job has to get done. And we are all replaceable. Another point this movie illustrates.

“Nobody should have to make those sacrifices,” says J.C. near the end of the movie. She is right and yet she is wrong. Because as mothers, unfortunately, we are forced to make decisions and sacrifices. The corporate world is a rat race. Always has been, probably always will be. It’s up to you to decide at what pace you go, or if you go at all. Or maybe, just maybe, you have enough talent and luck to create your own pace governed solely by you.

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