By Rosemary Marchese
Physiotherapist and mum of 3 fit kids
The Working Mum Revolution where mums put their own health last
Why are we getting it so wrong?
So, don’t be shocked…apparently working mums are notorious for putting the health of their children before their own! These were the results of a study of just over 1000 women in March 2016 conducted by the Online Research Unit on behalf of the Cenovis Women’s Health Index. Now, I’m a working mum. I ‘get it’ when mums (and dads) say that their kids’ health comes first…but I still don’t think it’s completely okay. Hear me out.
Firstly, I absolutely agree that there are some days where the focus is 100 percent on the kids. There’s not much more that can be done in your own day when you have projectile vomit down the wall from the top of a bunk bed (yes, I can say that from experience). Sick days are sick days and it’s quite common for mums to work through their own ‘sick days’ to save them up for the days when their kids are sick. As I said, I get it. But this whole ‘putting mums’ health second’ doesn’t sit with me. You are useless to everyone without your health. And day-in-and-day-out I see mums who are justifying getting more unfit because they are ‘busy’ and the ‘kids come first’, not to mention the burden of carrying that horrible mother-guilt factor that comes with setting some time aside to exercise and eat well.
Here’s the big problem I see first hand with mums…they are failing to recognise how bad being unfit really is for them. And that’s not even talking about the example being set for their children. There’s this underlying, incorrect assumption that the aim should be for a ‘normal’ weight so if they feed themselves and their family a ‘healthy diet’ then all will be okay.
But here’s the truth.
There’s not one pill, not one diet, not one anything that can give you all the health benefits that exercise can. And by not exercising you are sending your kids this message: physical activity is not part of an adult’s life.
One thing is for certain is that if working mums keep up this pathway it will keep doctor’s in business. Chronic diseases are often the result of lots of factors but the big one is an unhealthy and sedentary lifestyle. Putting your own health last now means you are highly at risk of stuffing up your health down the track…and what good will you be to your family then? Plus, exercise makes you more productive, which will mean you don’t have to work as long and can get back to your loved ones sooner!
Healthy lifestyle tips for busy working mums:
- Sit down once per week to plan your week. Schedule in time for tasks to get done rather than create long ‘to-do’ lists.
- Order your groceries online once per week and then do some meal prep. This doesn’t have to mean you cook every meal in advance but some meal prep can save a lot of stress during the week. Make a double batch of meals. Schedule in what you will have for each meal so there is no ‘thinking’ or decision making to wear you down during the week.
- Schedule in time to exercise. Keep it to 30 minutes if time is lacking. This way you are more likely to stick to it and train a little harder than if you were training for longer. If you find this still a push then break it down into 3 lots of 10 minute sessions over the course of a day.
- Get up from your desk for 2-3 minutes every hour.
- Sip water all day.
- Share the load! Have a great village of supporters in your team. Helping each other out is a great way to give and take. You might want to try doing some ‘meal swaps’ where you each make a double-batch of a meal and then swap one over. Make sure your partner is doing a fair share of housework and chores.
- Exercise with the kids! Go for a weekend bike ride or walk with the pram if your child is still little. Kids that watch you lead an active life are more likely to be active themselves. Lead by example!
Rose is a Fit Busy Mum of 3 fit kids. She aims to empower mums who are time poor. She acknowledges that mums are ‘busy’ but tries to inspire them to regain their fitness through simple everyday habits that she promotes through her book ‘The Fit Busy Mum: Seven habits for success’.