October 15, 2021
Having trouble sticking to a wellness routine? Here's how I managed to prioritize self-care.
When you have a family, self-care tends to go out the window. In another life, I was a yoga teacher; I took pride in my practice and my wellness regimen. I ate a diet of highly curated plant-based, nutrient-dense foods, got regular bodywork and did a nightly ritualistic foot bath.
Fast-forward a decade, and here I am running between soccer practice and homework duty hoping to find a few spare minutes to bend over the sink and eat Nutella out of the jar with a spoon…I kid you not.
I was one of those people who swore I would never compromise my personal health and wellness after having kids. I thought it was just a matter of determination and dedication — that I could do it all if I just wanted it badly enough. I was mistaken.
Having a family is hard work, and priorities change — I am no longer the center of my own universe. But that's OK. After a few false starts, I've found a path back to wellness. Here's how I managed to incorporate self-care into my life after having kids:
My New Normal
Lesson No. 1: Something is better than nothing. I used to think that if I didn't have time for a two-hour yoga class or my homemade, medicinal superfood latte, I may as well do nothing.
When I first had kids, I set unrealistic expectations. After a few months of trying and failing to get back to my old routine, I finally accepted that life had changed — if I wanted to get back in shape, both mentally and physically, I would have to find a new normal.
I started with small bursts. Whenever I could find 10 or 15 minutes where baby was napping or my partner could watch the kids, I would sit down and meditate, or roll out my mat and do some stretching. This is a great time to just do what feels good for you, or if you need inspiration, there are plenty of apps and fitness tutorials to guide you.
It may not seem like much at first, but dedicating just 10 minutes to your self-care per day makes an incredible difference over the course of several weeks or months. Soon, I started to feel much stronger, more flexible and calmer — more like my former self.
It can be tough to find motivation when there are a million things to do at every moment of every day — from fulfilling work obligations to doing laundry to making dinner for the kids, the list goes on and on. It may not make sense to stop and spend time on yourself when there's so much going on — that's why it's important to create space for your routine.
Find a corner of your home or workspace and dedicate it to your own personal wellness. I put a small altar on our screened-in porch for my yoga practice, complete with palo santo and a meditation pillow. Set the mood with essential oil diffuser, then use your smart phone to dim the lights and control the thermostat using an integrated home automation system. If you create a space you enjoy, you're more likely to stick with your regimen.
But space isn't just physical — we also have to give ourselves permission to spend time and energy on our own well-being. Setting up a routine can help. Find a time that works for you — whether it's first thing in the morning, during your lunch break or late at night when everyone else is asleep.
Set a reminder on your phone or smart watch, and when it goes off, try not to decide whether to do your wellness activity. Think of it like brushing your teeth — it's just something you do. When we take the decision out of the equation, we tend to follow through much more regularly. If you skip your routine for a few days in a row, don't be too hard on yourself. Just try, try again.
Connect With Yourself
Parents are superheroes, but we can't do it all alone. That's why we have baby monitors, smart slow cookers, apps to track our kids at school. And thankfully, there are plenty of wellness tools to help you get back on track and stay there. One innovation that I found life-changing is a smart mirror, a two-way mirror with a digital display powered by computer technology.
Now I have access to countless fitness classes with expert instruction and live feedback — all from the comfort of my own home. You can also join a class and compete with others, and track your own personal progress.
Another good investment is a smart watch. This allows you to set reminders, check your heart rate and track your movement throughout the day. I also have a smart water bottle that reminds me to hydrate regularly.
Devices can help you to connect, but the most important connection is the one you have with yourself. Having a wellness regimen isn't selfish — it's necessary. When we take care of ourselves, we are much better parents, partners, employees, neighbors and friends.
Self-care may take a little time, but it gives us more energy so that we can stay present throughout the day. And to me that's what it's all about — finding ways to appreciate our loved ones and enjoy the moments that matter most.
Check out more about how Cox is creating smarter homes at the Smart Stories hub.