Being a mom is so rewarding. Being a working mom is double rewarding. I have the opportunity to flex my mental muscles when I'm among my colleagues and when I return home, I spend one-on-one time with my daughter. I teach her the importance of a balanced life and normalize the behavior of a successful working mom. Though, I couldn't do it without my tribe, the women and men who support me and my little nugget as I navigate this unknown territory. The top five relationships I lean on are:
1) The relationship with myself.
Sounds obvious, but sometimes as working #momboss we forget that we have to take care of ourselves before we can take care of anyone else. This includes our children, our spouse and our professional team. So, I carve out time to meditate every morning. I center myself through an active devotion to bring clarity to my mind and heart. I also believe that my strength, creativity and ability come from a higher-being. My spiritual belief is the cornerstone of my life and guides me every day.
2) The relationship with my daughter.
She's my inspiration and my motivation. Before I was a mom, I was equally focused on my career but I operated from a very selfish place. I wanted to acquire more knowledge, more influence, more responsibility and yes, more money. Now, I work smarter - not harder; more efficient - not longer. Because of that, I'm more productive. I am inspired by the opportunity to serve as a great example to my daughter.
3) The relationship with my partner.
We are a team that has to lean on each other, support each other and we really are the truest form of "ride-or-die." This relationship is so important as you need that person who is interested in your day, your wellbeing and your happiness. They will be honest with you, be your mirror when you're facing challenging times of difficult decisions; they will be your advocate when you need protection; and they will cuddle with you and tell you how beautiful your mind, body and spirit are when you feel defeated. This is such an important relationship, only 3rd on paper, but equally as important as the others.
4) My other #MomBosses.
It is so important to have mothers around you who live a similar life. When I was pregnant, I was the only one within my friend-group that was a new mother. Being originally from Tennessee, most of my friends had children in their 20's and my NYC squad were like me, in their late-30's, resolved that children were not in their future. I was an anomaly. I didn't fit in anywhere. That was until I found my mommy blog and made connections from my infant-CPR class or prenatal yoga class. And, as our children have gotten older, these relationships have sustained me during the meltdowns, growth stages and milestones. It has been an enormous support to have first-time mothers to lean on when I find myself examining a (typical) rash on my daughter's leg or trying to find the most obscure hypo-allergenic sunscreen to prevent said rash.
5) My tribe.
From other mothers, to my mother and non-parenting friends, I have created a pretty wacky support team. This is my tribe. Being an only child, I was so concerned that my daughter wouldn't have a rounded-out life since she wouldn't have any cousins. Well, you pick your friends, who become your family. Isn't that a nice thought? I have a rich life full of laughter and disagreements, and play-dates and double-date nights.
It is a life...
full of diversity - from family structures to cultures to ages;
full of love,
full of insight,
full of support,
and, full of opportunity.
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With a lack of certainty surrounding the future, being and feeling healthy may help bring the security that you need during these unpredictable times.
When it comes to your health, there is a direct relationship between nutrition and physical activity that play an enormous part in physical, mental, and social well-being. As COVID-19 continues to impact almost every aspect of our lives, the uncertainty of the future may seem looming. Sometimes improvisation is necessary, and understanding how to stay healthy and fit can significantly help you manage your well-being during these times.
Tip 1: Communicate with your current wellness providers and set a plan
Gyms, group fitness studios, trainers, and professionals can help you to lay out a plan that will either keep you on track through all of the changes and restrictions or help you to get back on the ball so that all of your health objectives are met.
Most facilities and providers are setting plans to provide for their clients and customers to accommodate the unpredictable future. The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C. An enormous amount is on the table for this coming fall and winter; if your gym closes again, what is your plan? If outdoor exercising is not an option due to the weather, what is your plan? Leaving things to chance will significantly increase your chances of falling off of your regimen and will make consistency a big problem.
The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C.
Tip 2: Stay active for both mental and physical health benefits
The rise of stress and anxiety as a result of the uncertainty around COVID-19 has affected everyone in some way. Staying active by exercising helps alleviate stress by releasing chemicals like serotonin and endorphins in your brain. In turn, these released chemicals can help improve your mood and even reduce risk of depression and cognitive decline. Additionally, physical activity can help boost your immune system and provide long term health benefits.
With the new work-from-home norm, it can be easy to bypass how much time you are spending sedentary. Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity. Struggling to find ways to stay active? Start simple with activities like going for a walk outside, doing a few reps in exchange for extra Netflix time, or even setting an alarm to move during your workday.
Tip 3: Start slow and strong
If you, like many others during the pandemic shift, have taken some time off of your normal fitness routine, don't push yourself to dive in head first, as this may lead to burnout, injury, and soreness. Plan to start at 50 percent of the volume and intensity of prior workouts when you return to the gym. Inactivity eats away at muscle mass, so rather than focusing on cardio, head to the weights or resistance bands and work on rebuilding your strength.
Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity.
Tip 4: If your gym is open, prepare to sanitize
In a study published earlier this year, researchers found drug-resistant bacteria, the flu virus, and other pathogens on about 25 percent of the surfaces they tested in multiple athletic training facilities. Even with heightened gym cleaning procedures in place for many facilities, if you are returning to the gym, ensuring that you disinfect any surfaces before and after using them is key.
When spraying disinfectant, wait a few minutes to kill the germs before wiping down the equipment. Also, don't forget to wash your hands frequently. In an enclosed space where many people are breathing heavier than usual, this can allow for a possible increase in virus droplets, so make sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Staying in the know and preparing for new gym policies will make it easy to return to these types of facilities as protocols and mutual respect can be agreed upon.
Tip 5: Have a good routine that extends outside of just your fitness
From work to working out, many routines have faltered during the COVID pandemic. If getting back into the routine seems daunting, investing in a new exercise machine, trainer, or small gadget can help to motivate you. Whether it's a larger investment such as a Peloton, a smaller device such as a Fitbit, or simply a great trainer, something new and fresh is always a great stimulus and motivator.
Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine.
Just because you are working from home with a computer available 24/7 doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your entire day to work. Setting work hours, just as you would in the office, can help you to stay focused and productive.
A good night's sleep is also integral to obtaining and maintaining a healthy and effective routine. Adults need seven or more hours of sleep per night for their best health and wellbeing, so prioritizing your sleep schedule can drastically improve your day and is an important factor to staying healthy. Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine. This can help the rest of your day feel normal while the uncertainty of working from home continues.
Tip 6: Focus on food and nutrition
In addition to having a well-rounded daily routine, eating at scheduled times throughout the day can help decrease poor food choices and unhealthy cravings. Understanding the nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy can help you stay more alert, but they do vary from person to person. If you are unsure of your suggested nutritional intake, check out a nutrition calculator.
If you are someone that prefers smaller meals and more snacks throughout the day, make sure you have plenty of healthy options, like fruits, vegetables and lean proteins available (an apple a day keeps the hospital away). While you may spend most of your time from home, meal prepping and planning can make your day flow easier without having to take a break to make an entire meal in the middle of your work day. Most importantly, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
Tip 7: Don't forget about your mental health
While focusing on daily habits and routines to improve your physical health is important, it is also a great time to turn inward and check in with yourself. Perhaps your anxiety has increased and it's impacting your work or day-to-day life. Determining the cause and taking proactive steps toward mitigating these occurrences are important.
For example, with the increase in handwashing, this can also be a great time to practice mini meditation sessions by focusing on taking deep breaths. This can reduce anxiety and even lower your blood pressure. Keeping a journal and writing out your daily thoughts or worries can also help manage stress during unpredictable times, too.
While the future of COVI9-19 and our lives may be unpredictable, you can manage your personal uncertainties by focusing on improving the lifestyle factors you can control—from staying active to having a routine and focusing on your mental health—to make sure that you emerge from this pandemic as your same old self or maybe even better.