Family monsters can have a real impact on your physical and mental health if not managed. The everyday challenges that all families face can mean it’s hard to find time to do things you enjoy and make you happy as well as staying healthy. Parents often feel all their attention needs to be on their child, but not looking after yourself and staying healthy can make managing your family monster even harder.
Why pay attention to food and nutrition?
Caring for children requires stamina, yet when time is short it can be tempting to rely on unhealthy convenience foods. These may provide a short-term boost but there is lots of evidence to show the long-term damage these can do. If we rely too much on these products we forget the pleasures and benefits of enjoying seasonal fruits and vegetables. Making a meal from scratch can be very satisfying and cooking is a great bonding activity you can do as a family too.
It is easy to forget about the social value of cooking and eating together. Sitting around a table in the morning or evening with your family provides valuable moments. These can be used to share stories from the day and wind down, as well as, being very useful for talking about family monsters or catching up with what’s going on, within your family.
It’s also important to remember that your child might not have positive emotions around food. So introduce them to the joys of cooking and eating together which they can take into a healthy adulthood. These can help to tackle and prevent some family monsters too as cooking can be a good bonding activity and very therapeutic.
Introducing regular exercise into your routine can make all the difference to your physical health and wellbeing. Try to find an activity you enjoy, it could be dancing, swimming or going to the gym. Walking is a great activity and has the added benefits of being outside in the fresh air, as well as giving you the opportunity to talk to someone in your family or friendship group about your family monsters. If you take more interest and effort to exercise you will notice the difference it can make to how you move, feel and bond with your family – especially if you choose to exercise together.
Finding an activity that you can do with other parents or groups can provide you with motivation and an added support group. You could also find an activity to do as a family. If your child is more likely to take an interest in their health if they see you are being active. This means you’ll have more opportunities to start a conversation and share your family monsters.
It can be a challenge to manage the worries and stress of being a parent or just family life in general but, you should try to find relaxation strategies that can help you wind-down and relax. These strategies will help you cope during your most difficult times and give you the break you need to tackle your family monsters with a clearer head.
It may be that you can re-discover a hobby or find a new one or it could be a simple activity like reading a book or listening to music. Some parents find meditation or yoga can help them to find a balance and de-stress. Some agencies and local authorities now provide regular yoga classes so it’s worth looking in to it and seeing what’s available. They give you the chance to relax, meet others and grow your support network.
Whatever you do, remember that taking a moment for yourself is never selfish. In fact it is essential to keep going and providing the good quality care your child needs. Growing up in a calm household where the adults show them how to manage their emotions is the very best start you can give your children. So take the time out you need to clear your mind and manage your emotions well, as not only are you leading by example but you are better equipping yourself to manage and tackle your family monsters.
- Think about your first drink of the day and try a reviving herbal or fruit tea, as well as, drinking lots of water throughout the day.
- Try to eat food that is in season. Go to fruit and vegetable markets and look at what is available. Find out about the different produce and how to use it in your cooking.
- Experiment and introduce new flavours through herbs and spices from different countries and regions that you and your children haven’t tried before.
- Think about growing produce in your garden if you have one. There is nothing more satisfying than making a dish using fruit and vegetables you have grown yourself. If space is an issue, even a tub or window box can be used to grow herbs like rosemary or mint that can be used in the meals you make. Children can really enjoy being involved in watering and weeding – and watching things grow.
- Try to cut down on the artificial stimulants found in coffee, tea, sugary drinks or alcohol. If you or anyone in your family finds this difficult try and cut down gradually over time. You may want to aim for just one cup a day.
- As a family try to eat more fresh food and avoid the processed or convenience options. Begin to listen to your body, notice what makes you feel good and what gives you energy.
Need more support?
Our free FamilyLine helpline is here to provide a listening ear, answer those particular parenting questions you have or help with guidance around more complex issues. All via telephone, text message or email for free.
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