Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Natrol but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.
There is no such thing as balance.
There is no such thing as a perfect life.
We are all just trying to do the best we can, with the 24 hours we have each day. Sometimes we feel like we are failing, and other days we feel like a damn parade should be thrown in our honor for all we've accomplished.
In the age of people having 'social media perfect' lives, let's keep it real for a few moments. Because nobody has a perfect life. And nobody believes that because you say that your life couldn't be more perfect on social media, that it's the truth. I think the recent tragic deaths of celebrities (who to those of us who didn't know them felt they 'had it all') has finally inspired more people to start being more authentic. I've seen more people speaking up. More authenticity. Because no amount of money or fame means you are not going through something on a deeper more personal level. Money doesn't equal happiness. People are struggling, whether it be in relationships, financially, physically, emotionally, or mentally. And people need to know that they are not the only ones struggling, that there are others out there struggling too, who are there to listen, to be a shoulder, to help if they can. We need to celebrate wins with one another, but also be there when things aren't going so great.
Mike and mum like to get on my case a little. You see, I'm not very good about taking care of myself. I'm a grown woman dammit. I'm 45 and I'll do what I want (which apparently includes stomping her feet like a 2-year old when she's being told off).
You see, I remember to do things for my family like take the kids to their myriad of doctors, specialist, and dental appointments. I remember to take them to the hairdresser, make them do their homework, check in with all their teachers, attend EVERY. SINGLE. THING at school, make sure they eat a balanced diet, run them to extra-curricular activities, schedule play dates, day trips, and vacations, and take care of all the cuts, scrapes, and illnesses, while also ensuring they are getting a balance of being outdoors, exercise, sleep, and learning something new.
I remember to do that! Go me, right?! But guess what, some days I drop the ball too. Because I'm human.
I, on the other hand, haven't been to a doctor for almost 3 years. I don't even remember the last time I went to the dentist. Mike reminded me this past week that I haven't been to a hairdresser in 2 years. My mum has been on me for months to have any spots checked out after a couple of skin cancer scares for both of my parents. She's even spoken to Mike about it and told him he has to stay on me to get it done. It's on the list. It's always on the list. The seemingly never-ending list.
Mike likes to joke that he's going to put 'I'll be fine' on my tombstone one day because he hears it so often.
So let's run through the 5 ways I started practicing healthier habits this year, not only for my family but also for myself. Because I have to stop with the 'do as I say, not as I do', and remember (thanks Mike for the constant reminder), to make sure I'm here for the kids for a very long time.
And I don't just mean physical health, I mean mental and emotional health too, because all of these things contribute to our overall well-being.
Let's be honest, being a single parent, working full-time, running a household, and juggling a long-distance relationship leaves very little time each day for me. The grandparents are a 15-hour flight away for babysitting, or to help out if I'm sick, or a child is sick, or to juggle the transporting of kids to all of the things they want to do. Most days just consist of a whole lot of caffeine, very little sleep, and me juggling more balls than I could ever have imagined. This week Mike said, "I don't know how you keep everything straight". Lists! Lots and lots of lists! A daily to-do list, and another list for if I get a spare 5-minutes. There are lists for every school vacation of things we could/should/want to do, travel bucket lists, chores that need to get done around the house - like repair that sprinkler system in the backyard *looks out the office window and glares at the dead grass. And let's not forget shopping lists. I use an app that's synced with my office computer and phone so anytime the kids need something, or we use up something it goes on the list. No more forgetting to take the list to the store, it's on my phone. There are even lists for Mike every time he comes to visit too, like repair the kitchen sink, put new brakes on my car, and help me with DIY projects for work (thanks honey).
And calendars! Let's not forget the calendars! Everything is color-coded with times, dates, personal, work, holidays, bills that need to be paid, and expiration dates on important documents ... in just the past couple of months I've had to renew my driver's license, green card, and military base access pass to take the kids to their appointments ... and if one thing isn't renewed, there's a house of cards that falls in a heap.
But, each day I'm chipping away at things. Each day as I knock things off those lists, I feel like I sleep a little better and a little longer. The stress headaches subside a little, my shoulders don't feel like they are carrying as much weight, and slowly, after a few years of trying to find some kind of normalcy I'm learning that I cannot do it all, but instead learning to prioritize.
I've always encouraged the kids to have at least one extra-curricular activity. Not only for social and physical reasons but to also get them away from screens. Even if it's just one afternoon a week of them doing something that's good for their body, mind, and social skills, then that's okay with me. My oldest joined a gym, and he goes after work or school, sometimes in the middle of the night, but he goes. I need to join the gym too. And I will, once I get things a little more under control. In December M decided that her activity was going to be yoga. I could get on board with this one, so now we go to a yoga class on weekends together. It's an hour and a half of the two of us doing something together, completely unplugged. And, the little man has been doing martial arts, although we are currently in discussions about this because he wants a break and to try something else for a little while.
I've been dragging Mike out hiking a couple of times a month too. He knows it's good for him, but I don't think he's always too happy at my suggestion when we are halfway up a mountain and he can't see the end in sight. Yesterday I sent him a text with a hike I want to do next week on my birthday. His response, "how long will that take you"? Funny man. He knows I'm going to drag him out to do it with me, but after I made him hike up a steep mountain recently, I'm not sure that he trusts that he's going to come home in one piece.
As I mentioned I love to hike. I love to be out in nature and I've always encouraged the kids to do that as much as possible. Hopefully, they don't read this, but I've found a way to get them on board with little whining ... friends! If we invite a friend or two along, they tend to go along with whatever crazy ideas I have. And the thing is, no matter how much they don't want to go, I know them well enough to know that the moment we are at our destination they always have fun, whether we are on a nature trail, at the beach, fishing, building go-karts to race down a hill, or snow tubing. We even went as far as to buy ducks for the pond at the house in Kentucky to encourage the kids to get outside to feed and look after them. At least twice a month we make it a point to take them somewhere outdoors. This week alone (because it's summer break) we went to the beach, on a nature walk, to the blueberry farm, and a butterfly farm.
Having a healthy mind is so important. Not only to raise our kids to be self-sufficient adults one day but also because you should never stop learning. Whether I'm teaching them a new life skill (like showing the older boys last night how to work the grill so they could cook dinner), or Mike teaching Flynn how to build something new or catch fish, or even me helping my daughter through the tween years as we move into the age of makeup and social media, it's so important that they learn how to do these things, so that they can pass what they have learned onto their own children one day. But, it's not just life skills, and education at home, it's also school.
Education for me is just as important. I'll be 46 next week and I'm still learning, every single day. Being self-employed means there's always something new so you have to stay on top of it. It keeps my brain active, and I love being able to challenge myself, to better myself, and to set a good example for the kids.
IMPROVING OUR DIETS
We don't eat a lot of take-out, but we do indulge from time-to-time in pizza, or the kids' favorite orange chicken. I'm very conscious of maintaining a balanced diet for all of us but more so for myself. My love of donuts is strong and because I work from home I tend to graze throughout the day. I often keep snacks on my desk and reach for whatever is quickest and easiest, not necessarily what is healthiest. When the kids are home though it's a different story, I find we make a lot of smoothies, and I make a conscious effort to stop by the farmer's market or a local farm with the kids to pick up fresh produce, made even better if we can pick our own like we did early this week at the local blueberry farm.
But, I was also worried that we still weren't getting enough vitamins and minerals, so we all started taking Natrol Gummy Vitamins. They are made with organic ingredients, non-GMO, gelatin-free, vegetarian, made with 26 fruits and vegetables and free of artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners, and preservatives.
"These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any diseases."
The twins' are taking the Kids' Multi.
Look for the purple top when shopping for these better-for-you Natrol Gummy Vitamins.
Now, I couldn't leave here without giving you a recipe or DIY as well could I? So, grab the recipe for this really simple mango pineapple coconut smoothie bowl. It's delicious. It's also dairy-free and gluten-free.
- 1 cup frozen mango
- 1 cup frozen pineapple
- 5.3oz (1 small tub) dairy-free cashew coconut yogurt
- 1 tbs honey
And for the topping:
- Fresh mango
- Grain-free coconut cashew granola
Place the first four ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a bowl and top with the delicious toppings. Enjoy!
If you aren't ready to make this recipe right away, please print the green print button to the left (with the social sharing buttons), or pin this post for later.