Parenting and healthy living are wildly contradictory terms. When I think of healthy living – and consequently the purpose of my blog, or what I’d love my blog to represent – I see a vision of me in a flowing white dress sitting in lotus pose on a tropical beach at sunset, listening to the sounds of the ocean while I tap into my inner truth via perfect meditation techniques. I am the power, the truth and the healing light.
In contrast, this is what my real-life version of ‘healthy’ living looks like – a non-stop, round-the-clock rush through chaos, wearing clothes that never stay clean (mothers know better than to wear white), always running, never sitting – in lotus pose or any other pose that is at all restful – in a frantic bid to squeeze in a workout/go to the shops/look after the kid/make new recipes/do the school run/blog/walk the dog/any one of the 100 other things I have to do during the course of each day, often all at the same time (one day soon I will write a post about toddlers and shopping). There is no beach, but there is a messy kitchen, a trail of step-on-it-at-your-peril toys and always, ALWAYS, a whining toddler tagging in my wake. I wake up haunted by the sound of Mamaaaaaaaaaaaa! in my dreams.
There is no sound of the soothing ocean, but there is a barking dog who hasn’t been for a decent walk in a week, aforementioned toddler throwing a level 20 tantrum at 10 000 decibels because she’s been denied sweets for dinner and Hop Little Bunny Hop Hop Hop blaring from the TV as we try to distract her while we force feed her something, anything, that contains an ounce of nutrition. I have no meditation techniques, but I am well versed in intricate family battle plans. My toddler is the power, my dog’s disappointed eyes are the truth and the not-so-healing light is coming from the bedroom where my husband has again forgotten to switch off the light, so we’re now hosting the Tomorrowland of mosquito parties above our bed.
And guys, this is with one kid. One. As a staunch flag-bearer of the one and done brigade, the thought of adding a second into this whirlpool of insanity makes me want to sky dive without a parachute. You wouldn’t have to push me – I’d be jumping before the plane even reached full height. Seriously though, hats off to all of you who have forged ahead with the second. You are all superheroes, every single one of you (you’re also a bit bananas, but madness makes one interesting). And single parents…I have no words for how bloody incredible you are. And not just for the juggling act you all do that puts magicians to shame, but also for your extreme bravery in just taking that step. I admire you immensely…but also with that second kid, wouldn’t trade places with you for the world!
I’ve described a little bit about the living, but nothing at all about the healthy. Because looking at that on paper, you can only assume that my life is the antithesis of healthy – full of stress, exhaustion and frequent panic, not to mention the guilt heaped upon our souls by the dog’s mournful eyes (for real, this keeps me up at night). There really is not very much I can do about this right now…as I understand it, kids only become easy when they can be packed off to primary school and made the teacher’s problem. Which is a really long way away.
So how do I stay healthy? The answer to that is, I do the best I can whenever I can. Some days I fail miserably and go to bed anxious, my mind whirling with crazy thoughts, making sleep either impossible or fitful at best. I wake up in a bad mood and stay grumpy for the rest of the day…or week. Other days, I manage two or three tasks in one evening – a workout, some food prep and a meal with the kid that doesn’t end in meltdown – and I feel like I’ve achieved everything I ever wanted in life. Olympic gold medals have nothing on motherhood wins.
I’ve learnt to try my best and accept whatever my best is on that day. So I only managed two gym sessions this week – ok, but at least I did two instead of none! I also cooked dinner and simultaneously prepped hummus one night, plus the dog got a run in. So while I fell a bit short on one day, I smashed it out the park the next.
My point is that it’s actually not what we achieve but rather how we view our achievements that defines what is healthy. If you eat really well for 6 days and then have a binge session on ice cream on the 7th and now all you can think about is the guilt you feel for ‘failing’ – that’s not healthy. But if you have 6 days of healthy eating and then a day off where you can eat what you want and you view that as balance in life, that’s healthy. The scenario hasn’t changed – it’s your attitude that makes the difference. Healthy starts in your head. Obstacles are either setbacks or challenges and how you view them is a choice.
I sometimes feel like a hurdles athlete with all the obstacles in my life – and there really is nothing more awkward than a hurdler (google it, it’s worth the laugh). But when I change my view and look at them as challenges to overcome – and even get into a little competition with myself to see how many I can manage – I find I’m in a healthy head space which allows me to find my balance, no matter how bonkers the day.