Most parents today are in such a rush to get everything done that they neglect the health of their family in the process. After a long day at work followed by ferrying the kids to lessons and running errands, the last thing you want to do when you get home is cook. So you order takeout or pop something frozen in the microwave, wolf down your food, and then spend the next several hours helping kids with homework until the wee hours of the morning. You follow this with a too-short snooze (if you can even fall asleep with all the thoughts and worries filling your head) and it’s up with the alarm for another day of the same. Holy cow! It’s no wonder you’re not feeling well and you can barely remember the names of your kids. Our modern society may be in a mad dash to some uncertain future, but that doesn’t mean you have to go along for the ride. Here are just a few ways to slow down, take a breath, and get yourself and your family back on track for better all-around health.
The first thing to attack is your schedule. If you find that you often don’t have time for basics like meal preparation and sleep (much less spending quality time with your family), your priorities are clearly out of whack. I can hear the “buts” bubbling up already, and this is part of the problem. There is no excuse, absolutely none, for neglecting your health and dragging your family down with you. Kids may not have a choice, but you certainly do. Each day you decide how to spend every precious minute of your time. And while you certainly have to hold a job in order to keep a roof over your head and food on the table, pretty much everything else is negotiable, and it’s time to start saying no.
Try this on for size: give up extra activities and “obligations” for a while and focus on what you could be doing with that time to better your health. When you don’t have to take the kids to soccer practice, piano lessons, and play dates, and you cut back on your own time wasters like calling, texting, and catching the latest episode of Desperate Housewives (a telling choice), you may find that you have some extra time on your hands to plan and cook healthy meals or take the kids on a bike ride. Cutting back on the fats, sugars, and preservatives found in processed foods and getting in some exercise each day is not only good for your health, it will also help you to sleep better at night and look and feel your best. So why aren’t you choosing that over a life of chaos?
And you don’t need experts from MHA programs to tell you that physical health and wellness can only help to improve your mental and emotional state. Although this change in routine may be hard at first, it’s only a matter of time before you begin to feel more alert and energized, and your improved state of being will help you to get back to what matters: a real relationship with your spouse and kids instead of the merely functional arrangement you have going now. So make your own health and the health of your family a priority; the only thing you’ll be sorry for is that you didn’t do it sooner.
Evan Fischer is a freelance writer and part-time student at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California.