When you are trying to be a great parent and to run a business, and to have a social life all at once, no matter how good your time management sills might be, you are going to be strapped for time once in awhile. You are going to find yourself tempted to cut corers or skip little parts of your routine, after all something’s got to give for you to make it all happen.
I won’t pretend that I don’t occasionally cut a few corners in my life. I have had to cancel the odd social engagement, put off hobby projects, and go to bed an hour or two later than usual in order to make sure I fit everything into a given day.
However, when it comes to deciding what to skip, trim, or cut a back on, there always has to be one hard rule:
Taking care of your health is non-negotiable.
Because you cannot be a great parent if you are constantly sick and miserable.
Right now, my son is recovering from a bout of The Croup, and I have managed to pick up whatever virus forced me to take him to the hospital. I have managed to tear muscles from coughing so hard, and have missed a lot of sleep. I know I have beem less tolerant, less kind, and more disciplinarian with him than usual because I just dont have the energy and that taking care of a precocious toddler usually takes.
Nobody can be the loving and kind parent that they shoud be when they are miserable, which is why it is important that you are in the best possible health, so that you rebound form illnesses quickly. A chronically ill parent is going to be a chronically impatient and frustrated parent.
Likewise, you can’t be the person your kids need you to be if you are constantly struggling with depression or anxiety. They need you to be engaged in the here and now with them if they are going to learn to navigate their way in the world. You need to create the habits of healthy thought and practice that lets you be present with them and tot each them how to engage with the world with enthusiasm.
And, of course, your kids are always watching. They will observe how you eat, sleep, and exercise, and learn more from your example than anything you tell them. If you treat yourself poorly – if you:
- skip meals,
- eat garbage,
- abuse your body with drugs and alcohol,
- spend all day on the couch,
- rot your brain on daytme TV,
- ignore important medical needs,
- or skip out on sleep,
Then your kids may well learn from your exmple and neglect themselves in their adulthood, too. Your health habits will help determine how your kids take care of themselves, and how healthy they will be.
Accordingly, you must treat your personal health as sacred. You must at minumum:
- Hydrate every day.
- Eat home-cooked meals far more often than not.
- Have green vegetables with at least one meal a day.
- Get fresh air every day when the weather allows.
- Get at least six hours sleep every night (more if needed)
- Keep alcohol down to a minimum.
- Get a half hour of high-energy exercise four days a week (minimum!)
- Take a half hour every day of quiet time for journaling, reflection, meditation, or a hobby.
- See the doctor if you have any long-standing complaints that you are tolerating.
When you are planning your daily schedule or your routines, put these things in first, before you plan your child’s activities, before you mark down time for work, and before you pen in any other pursuits. Because without doing this minimum effort for yourself, you will not have the energy or the mental fortitude to do a good job balancing parenting and work.