How Becoming a Mom Made Me Healthier
“Of all the benefits of having kids…an unexpected one is that becoming a mom has made me healthier.”
Sometimes I look back at my 20s, pre-kid life (thank you kindly, Facebook Memories) and marvel: There I was with a dozen friends, sharing a beach house for the summer—nary a care in the world! There we were, my best girlfriends and I, partying our way through Prague. We look so young and baby-faced, like spring chickens, truly! But before my nostalgia eats me alive, I take off my rose-colored glasses and remember the truth: Life was so much fun back then—but it was also pretty unhealthy. Of all the benefits of having kids—love, joy, snuggle buddies, excuses to go to Disney World—an unexpected one is that becoming a mom has made me healthier.
For one, there’s the physical activity. Any parent knows that kids don’t let you sit on your butt for too long. My own two weasels, ages 4 and 1, are up and at it by 7 a.m. (at the latest), and after a cozy 10- to 12-hour slumber, they have a massive reserve of energy just waiting to be unleashed on my husband and me. In our childless days, we’d luxuriate in bed until 10 a.m. on the weekends; these days, it’s not uncommon for all four of us to be dressed and embarking upon a long walk by 8 a.m., or racing around a playground or playing tag or soccer at the park in the mornings. Is this exhausting? You bet. But does it keep my body fairly lean and mean even as I struggle to get to exercise classes? Also yes. (That said, my kids also motivate me to make it to exercise classes, too: Keeping up with them is like training for an 18-year-long ultramarathon.)
My kids have also made me healthier in that they stand in the way of bad habits like staying out too late with friends (not to mention the late-night mozzarella sticks that would ultimately follow). I still enjoy a few nights out on the town, but with much, much more moderation (read: no late-night mozz sticks), and my new social calendar is a lot kinder to my overall health and well-being.
Which brings me to my next point: Having children has made me value my sleep and, forgive the buzzword, increased my commitment to self-care. I am a natural-born night owl who, before becoming a mom, would burn the midnight oil and sleep in without giving it a second thought. But when your kids rise with the sun and run you ragged by day, you quickly learn just how important sleep is to your ability to function, and to be a happy and healthy person and parent. I now tuck into bed around 10 p.m and enjoy reading to unwind, destress and clear my mind for the day ahead. It’s a hobby that is a huge source of joy and inspiration for me; let’s just say this didn’t happen too often before I had my son and daughter.
And all of this is to say nothing of the healing powers of children. It may sound cheesy, but after a rough day or stressful day at work, there’s no better medicine than one of my little tykes running into my arms and giving me a huge, tight hug.
Find other great health and wellness stories at Parents.com/Strive