Working mom-hood can suck.
Don’t get me wrong:
My son is the best kid I could have asked for, I love my career helping others feel well in their bodies, and I love my life: working from home 75% of the time totally helps me maintain my health.
I don’t usually complain about exhaustion and overwhelm, because honestly I feel pretty good most of the time, and my health is my top priority. But here’s what I’m feeling today:
Teaching a tele-class until 10pm pushed my adrenal glands to the max last night. After a welcome-home roll in the hay with my partner at 11 (totally worth it), I finally fell asleep about midnight; only to be woken up by my 6-year old son who sneezed in my face after padding into our room at 3am.
My 6:30am alarm was pre-empted by my early rising boy who poked me awake at 6 to ask if he had to go to school today.
So, yeah. I’m tired.
And most working moms can relate. We get pulled in several directions throughout the day, and our best efforts to maintain balance are often thwarted by a kid who needs to stay home sick, an opportunity to grow our business that requires late nights, or that networking event that could bring us the next big client.
How can a working mom keep her wits about her, and stay focused through the day?
In my 20s I would have powered through days like these with alternating hits of caffeine and sugar. Of course in my 20s I wouldn’t be tired because of teaching and my 6 year old, I would have been out all night barhopping.
These days I do my best to stay healthy, one bite at a time, and I know my old habits of a 2pm double mocha with whipped cream and a Mounds Bar after lunch aren’t going to cut it. Those old habits worked against me:
- I’ll break out with acne on my back and jaw line, which is oh-so attractive
- I’ll feel even more run down by 3:30pm
- I’ll have a harder time falling asleep and waking up, leading to more caffeine and more sugar the next day – a slippery slope
So I’m going to use specific energizing foods and techniques that I know will help my body and brain get through the day:
- Water. Yes, it’s boring, but fatigue is one of the first signs of dehydration. Just a 2% water loss effects mental functioning, and I don’t need any help in that department today. Plus, it’s free.
- Green Tea. Yes, it’s caffeine, but it doesn’t give me (or many other people) the same jittery feeling as coffee. Plus, the polyphenols in green tea (aka antioxidants) known as ECGC, boost metabolism and promote fast fat loss, while the theanine provides calm for a long, stressful day.
- Green Juice. Mega doses of chlorophyll and vitamins in a fresh green juice are going to boost my energy just a tad.
- Lunch. A mega-salad and some lean and clean protein. Today will be shredded baby kale with arugula tossed with olive oil and a bit of ume vinegar, some marinated chickpeas and smoked wild Alaskan salmon. The greens give me uplifting energy and the fish provides a solid protein.
- Walk. I’ll have a 20-minute break in between clients and I’m heading outside. Instead of checking out Facebook or sending 5 more emails, I’m getting out for some fresh air. Moving in and looking at nature are naturally energizing. True, it’s Brooklyn so there aren’t rolling hills and forest paths to wander, but a tree grows here. If you work in an office where long breaks are frowned upon, take a 5-minute walk outside and take the stairs to get there. Every little bit helps!
- Napping. Never underestimate the power of the power nap. If you find yourself craving caffeine or sugar at 3pm, head to your car or sneak under your desk at 3:30pm for 15 minutes. The benefits of a 5-10 minute nap are amazing, and you’ll be surprised at your productivity and focus after.
No, I won’t be able to make up for the lost sleep with some pressed vegetables in a glass, but fueling my body with nutrients it needs rather than caffeine and sugar that will ultimately deplete me is my long-term strategy for health.
Tomorrow I will sleep in a bit while my son gets his weekend screen-time fix. Ultimately my goal is to continue to replenish my energy so that I can have a full weekend with my son.
That’s what this is all about really. Choosing foods on a daily basis that allow me to have the energy and life I want – full, big, varied, fun and productive. I can’t anticipate perfectly what energy-drains will show up, but I stay in touch with my body and want “she” needs. All of us need to keep listening to our physical bodies and what they need, and it’s usually pretty simple: adequate rest, invigorating movement, sex, great food with deep nutrition, play, hydration, engagement, and passion.
And in the end, eating for energy allows me to devote more fun and love to my son. Even though he wakes me up early, he’s the best thing in my life.
Keep the greens handy, get to bed, and keep going with your life.