Monday, August 29, 2011

From Working to Mom to Working Mom

My new man...and me!

What a transition the last month has been; I went back to my day job on August 2nd and it has been a whirlwind. Instead of long days spent with my son, there are long days commuting to and from work. Leisurely daily shopping trips to the grocery store for dinner supplies have been replaced by full tilt weekly meal planning and grocery shopping sessions each Sunday evening (after e has gone to bed!). 

I am wading into the water that countless women have before me...that transformation from working to mom to working mom. At this early stage one of the biggest challenges I feel is that time is just rushing at me. I am no longer calmly observing the horizon but hurtling forward at breakneck pace trying to avoid the obstacles. Each day I build more skills and learn to navigate the challenges but I am definitely not there yet. My treasured workouts have disappeared. My love of dreaming up new and interesting ideas for dinner each night have fallen to the wayside and those super basic, go-to 20 minute meal ideas are the new mealtime staples. 

Someone once told me that the 'daycare years' are the biggest challenge in a person's life. Balancing work, caring for children, taking care of a home, time with a spouse and (if there is ANYTHING left) time for yourself is quite the juggling act. I keep wishing that there were just 2 extra hours in a day that no one else knew about, just for me. I know exactly how I would spend them: I would workout, read a book and maybe even paint my toenails.

It would be easy to turn on auto pilot. And some days, I certainly feel that is how I operate. But there is something else to be said for continued commitment to living well. It is not about perfection; it is about continuing to value your health (it carried you this far) and building habits that you can model for your children. Endless take out dinners turn into a taste for junk food. Nights crashed out on the sofa create kids who rarely go outside and stare at screens all day. All of these considerations are still so new to me. It was not that long ago that if I didn't feel like making dinner, we went out. If we ran out of yogurt, I didn't have to worry about what someone else would eat at snack time. If I skipped a couple of workouts, I knew I would get back on track the next week. My choices are not just my own now; they have an impact on a very impressionable little boy. That realization is both humbling and at times, a little frightening.

As a dietitian, I am constantly working with families to help them make healthy eating easy and realistic for busy lives. I am breathing a sigh of relief to find that many of my strategies actually work. When you have a young family, this may not be the time for three course dinners on a Tuesday night but that doesn't mean that you have to resort to take out. My ultimate strategy is planning ahead. I now plan my week's meals on Sunday and make a grocery list and then head out to the store. The whole routine takes just over an hour and it makes eating well Monday through Friday effortless. The week's meals are posted on the fridge so that my husband, who gets home earlier than I do, can start the meal. 

While I cook a lot from memory and inspiration (when my brain is functioning enough to be creative), I also am constantly looking for new recipe inspiration. One of the most frequent requests I get at work is from people looking for recipes. You will find my recipes here and on my new blog, The Fresh Sheet, but there are endless sources on the web for great, family friendly meal ideas. 

Healthy Families BC is a new website that is sponsored by the Government of BC that is devoted to building resources for families to take control of their health. I love that our vision of health care in BC is finally embracing a preventative approach. As a dietitian, I know the power of taking care of yourself so I really like supporting any initiative that shares this philosophy. Healthy Families has started a library of family friendly recipes that are healthy and simple. 

While the workouts may still be on hold, this summer I have been treasuring walks on the seawall with my family. The fresh air always calms my little one during that early evening fussy spell and the walk together as a family means that we don't have to sacrifice together time for a bit of fitness. I vow to get back to get back to my workouts soon but sometimes you have to choose between your blog post and your exercise routine. Guess who won today? 

I would love to hear your favourite strategies for staying sane and healthy with your family. And I have a little incentive to sweeten the deal. Healthy Families BC  has generously offered Eat Drink Be Happy readers a $250 dollar Lululemon gift card because there is no better incentive to get healthy than some new duds. 

To win, all you have to do is like Healthy Families BC on Facebook AND leave a comment below to share your favourite weeknight dinner. I will announce the winner on September 26 since that is my birthday. Wait, it's my birthday but you will get the present? That seems fair enough!

Here is to figuring it all out,
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