Who out there is a mom, working full-time struggling to be everything to everyone while neglecting herself? I’m raising both hands! One of my resolutions for 2019 is to improve my self-care. You may be wondering, “What is self-care?” and “Do I have time for this in my already busy schedule?” Self-care is something we do deliberately to take care of our mental, emotional and physical health. As a mom of two pre-school aged children who works full time, I know it is easy to neglect myself when putting the needs of family, work, life, etc. before my own. However, I want to be the healthiest version of myself so I can take care of my family, excel at my work, and enjoy my life.

A healthy eating pattern is part of my self-care. It’s something I deliberately do to maintain my physical health. A healthy eating pattern consists of a variety of vegetables from dark leafy greens to legumes, whole fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, low-fat and fat-free dairy and oils. As I am getting older, weight is not as easy to lose as it once was, so I am mindful about the foods I eat, wanting them to provide essential nutrients my body needs to function and stay healthy. Dairy foods are an excellent source of calcium and vitamin D which are essential to bone health. I aim to consume 3 servings of low-fat and fat-free dairy each day to maintain my bone health. And no, this is not 3 glasses of milk each day, I consume dairy in a variety of ways. Check out these delicious recipes for inspiration. 

Routine exercise is also something I deliberately do to maintain my physical and mental health. I recently started a beginners guide to running because it is more convenient than going to the gym. In this phase of my life I need exercise to be as convenient as possible. I can run in my neighborhood and bring a child along, if needed, in the jogging stroller. Running is a weight bearing exercise that can help prevent fractures and maintain bone health which is especially important since women achieve their peak bone mass in their twenties.   

A bonus of improving my self-care is modeling healthy behaviors for my children.  As a mom and dietitian, I want to expose my children to a variety of foods and physical activities while they are children so they will carry these lifestyle behaviors into adulthood. For instance, having a refreshing glass of chocolate milk with my kids after a run not only hydrates my muscles, but also helps build strong bones.

Busy moms, to help others,  you must take care of yourself first.  Remember, lifestyle changes  that  improve  your mental, emotional and physical health benefit  both you and the health of your family.

Stephanie H. Yow, MS, RD, LD is a registered dietitian currently working in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Children’s of Mississippi in Jackson where she is responsible for the nutrition management of newborns. She is also a wife and mother of two precious children with whom she enjoys cooking.