The Smart Mom Manual
Recharging Your Batteries
By: Winnie Yu
Most moms I know run around like Energizer bunnies, forever on the go. We’re always busy doing things for our families, running the household and working hard at our jobs. Every night, we dutifully plug in our cell phones so the batteries can recharge. But how religious are we about recharging our own batteries?
Years ago, when my girls were young, I stopped taking care of myself. I’d go weeks without exercise. I didn’t get enough sleep. I worked long hours. I rarely went out with friends. But then I realized the truth in what flight attendants said: “When the plane hits turbulence, and you need an oxygen mask, always slip yours on first.” Without enough oxygen for yourself, there’s little you can do for your child -- or anyone else for that matter.
With that sage advice in mind, I began doing a better job of recharging my own batteries.
- Exercise regularly. No matter what else I have planned for the day, I make it a priority to move. Some days, it’s an hour-long visit to the gym and a 3-mile walk with my dog. Other days, it’s two 10-minute walks with the dog and nothing else. Regular activity helps my mood, gives me energy and makes it easier for me to fall asleep.
- Eat well -- most of the time. I love desserts, snacks and all sorts of junk food. Given the choice, I’d live on French fries, burgers and pizza. But when I did eat that way, I didn’t really feel good. Now, I start my breakfast with berries, orange juice and another piece of fruit. I eat a salad almost every day, and I’m careful to watch my intake of red meat. I also try to eat lean proteins, including fish once or twice a week.
- Get your rest. A good night’s sleep doesn’t come easily to me these days, so I’ve devised a list of strategies that help ease me into it, including regular exercise, chamomile tea, melatonin and middle-of-the-night viewings of “Mad Men” reruns on Netflix. If I still don’t get enough sleep, I take a short nap during the day -- just 15 minutes are usually enough. Most important, I try not to sweat my lack of sleep.
- Find things that make you laugh. I’m lucky to be surrounded by humor. For starters, I’m married to a very funny man whose take on life has always made me laugh. On top of that, some of my best friends are also the funniest people I know. They can drop one-liners with the best of them and see the irony in any situation. Throw in a good sitcom, a funny movie or a conversation with my daughters, who are fabulous comedians without always meaning to be, and I’m well-stocked with the laughter we all need to get through life.
- Rediscover your hobbies and passions -- or try out new ones. For years, I was an avid reader, a tennis player and a bicyclist. After having kids, all those hobbies fell by the wayside. Now that my girls are a little older, I’m rediscovering my love of reading and I’m back on my bike more regularly. Tennis? I’m giving that a try in a few days; I’ll see if I can resume that passion. In the meantime, I’ve discovered yoga and scrapbooking, and I’ve gone back to playing my flute.
- Spend time with friends. Whether it’s your best friend from high school or a new acquaintance from the PTA, being with friends is medicine for the soul -- even if you’re just commiserating or swapping cleaning tips. Human beings are social creatures, and being with others gives us perspective, camaraderie and energy.
Every mom has her own recipe for recharging her batteries. Whatever you need to recapture your zest, do it. Your family will thank you for it.
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is Completely You’s mom blogger. She has two daughters (Samantha, 14, and Annie, 12) and is the author of seven books, including New Mother’s Guide to Breastfeeding and What to Eat for What Ails You. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including Woman’s Day, AARP Bulletin, Prevention and WebMD.com.