Being a mom is tough. I remember when my son was a baby, survival was the only thing on my mind. Even though they're cute and you love them to death, infants and toddlers can tire you out and even put you in a bad mood. Here's a list of 10 small changes you can make in order to be a healthier, happier mom:
1. Cut the caffeine. Coffee might keep you going, but your caffeine addiction - yes it's a chemical addiction - can dehydrate you (it makes you pee more) and cause you to feel jittery or anxious. This is not a good thing when you're already stressed out with a kid. Have one, maybe two cups a day, but that's it. For the rest of the day, sip decaf, herbal teas, or just plain water. That way, you'll stay hydrated and energized.
2. Have sex. A lot of new moms call my show complaining that they are too tired or don't feel like having sex, as though it's a terrible obligation or assignment. However, with all the crazy hormonal changes you're going through, sex might be just the solution. Sex is therapeutic. Orgasms release oxytocin, endorphins, and DHEA, which create positive emotions, release tension, improve mood, and give your immune system a boost. In addition, sex does wonders for that post-pregnancy belly pooch because it strengthens the pelvic floor and the lower abs. Forget the apple - sex a day keeps the doctor away.
3. Get sleep. Sixty percent of moms say sleep is their primary challenge. Are you having trouble falling asleep? I suggest 10 minutes of yoga, prayer, or meditation before going to bed. If you find it really hard to shut off your brain at night, keep a journal on your nightstand and before you go to sleep, jot down your to-do list for the next day. Anything that is worrying you, write it down. By getting it on paper, you can say to yourself, "It's taken care of, now I can sleep."
4. Eat breakfast. It's the first meal (you are "breaking the fast"), and it sets the tone for the rest of the day. You need to put food in your belly within a half hour of waking up to rev up your metabolism and get your brain going. Aim for a mix of protein and fiber, such as yogurt with fresh fruit or oatmeal with berries and almonds.
5. Don't set unrealistic goals. Don't overload your brain with 40 million things you think you need to get done. You won't stick to what you can't do. For example, instead of looking at exercise in terms of weight-loss, approach it in terms of endurance. When you start off, it may take you an hour to go around the neighborhood. A week later it may take 58 minutes, and then the next week 56 minutes, etc. That kind of observation is better than stepping on a scale and getting demoralized.
6. Listen to music. Just like Mother Laura has been saying for years, a recent scientific review published in the journal Nutrition reports that listening to music strengthens immunity, digestion, and pain perception, reduces the incidence of heart failure, and even improves recovery time after a strenuous workout. So, load up your iPod with the kind of music that makes you feel good. For me, that's Motown. When the music comes on, my mind immediately goes blank and I'm just movin'.
7. Cut out the packaged foods. Eating any kind of food that can last a long time on the shelf makes you live a shorter amount of time. Instead of packaged snacks, eat real food. No antibiotics, hormones, chemicals, or added sugar.
8. Snack smart. There are times when I get out a teaspoon of peanut butter, lay it in my mouth, and just let it melt (if you have to talk, I don't recommend doing this). It keeps my blood sugar up, and it's a good source of protein.
9. Make your workouts work for you. With little kids, you may not have time for a half hour or hour workout, but you can break it up into 5-10 minute increments throughout the day. Or get up earlier. When my son, Deryk, was little, I used to ride him around in a seat on my bicycle. I rode him to the park and he'd play, and then we'd get back on the bike and go back. I also took him to the mall. This worked great: like one of those wind-up toys, I'd set him down, face him in the direction I wanted him to go, and let go. He would run forward and I would do my little shuffle run behind him. It's amazing how you can get exercise by doing simple things like this (of course you get tired and they don't!). You can get a good 20 minutes in just by chasing your kid around the mall (if they like to run in a straight line and you don't take your eyes off them).
10. Stop stressing. Exercise, meditate, or do something fun with your husband. Whether it's sex or playing a board game, you need to have some fun before you go to bed.