When I had my first son Yousuf almost 12 years ago, not going to lie it was a HUGE shock to the system. Finding the time for anything that didn’t revolve around him was rare. Throw in finishing my University degree, holding down a job and some sort of social life, I couldn’t even imagine finding the time to for fitness.
Like with any life changing event, be it a new baby, new job, marriage, country relocation; being able to periodically reflect on those experiences, what is working well and what isn’t, really helped me to ensure some healthy balance.
Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years and four children later:
Ask yourself, is health a priority in your family? Almost 100% of people will say it is, but do you take the action required to actually implement a healthy lifestyle.
Health in the Bhojani household at is simplest is Sleep – Eat – Play – Love. No that’s not the next movie starring Julia Roberts.
Sleep –Getting those essential 8hours minimum! Bed times are non-negotiable and the kids lights are out by 7:30pm and ours by 9:30pm (MAX!) even on weekends.
Eat -Meals are planned a week in advance, so that groceries are bought accordingly and the kids are involved so that every night of the week is somebodies meal choice.
Play –We use this word instead of train/exercise and this is a theme that runs through our whole day.
Love –this is the way we incorporate mental/emotional wellbeing. Love equals safety, kindness and all those essential things that often goes a miss when prioritizing health.
- Work as a team:
When our life as a family began, my wife and I often fought over who got the least sleep that night, who showered the most that week, who managed a toilet break unaccompanied or who had their coffee/meal warm that day (reheating it doesn’t count!). This constant competition wasn’t helping either of us reach our goals. Remember that you, your wife and your children are a team, working together not against each other.
In a big family with all different age groups and interests it can be hard to find something everyone can do and enjoy, expecting it to run smoothly will only put you up for failure. You can’t do everything you want all the time – direct quote of me talking to my 3 year old daughter.
Certain days of the week I will do the morning school run, giving my wife the opportunity to get her morning workout in. We set up work out time like we would meetings, it’s carved out specifically into our day.
Keep in mind that something that worked last year might not work this year as the dynamics change. When something doesn’t work anymore REGROUP - REFLECT – RESTRATEGIZE. Which brings me to my next point -
- Goal setting:
I’m not talking about the big goals here, yes it’s great to set an adventurous stretched goal to work towards but like I’ve said before and I will keep saying louder for the people in the back, it’s the small steps that you take today that will accumulate and get you to your destinationand for the love of God if you’ve had a bad morning don’t turn it into a bad day. Yes the school/work run was sh*t for the 10thyear in a row, that doesn’t mean the rest of your day will be too. It’s a bad moment and you can take control at any moment.
Always start small, a small goal can look like:
- Adding a portion of fruit or vegetables to every meal and eating those first and eventually phasing out the unhealthy side of fries.
- Replacing the diet coke with a glass of sparkling water with honey & lemon
- Committing to 15minutes of exercise a day and slowly increasing to 30 minutes then up to an hour.
- Taking the stairs at work, if you work on the 14thfloor, take the stairs to the 3rdfloor then the lift the rest of the way. Increase the number of floors over time.
- Going to sleep half an hour earlier at night
- Spending less time on social media, replacing that time with fitness.
The options are endless, take a look at where you spend your time and optimize it to suit your needs.
- Progress not perfection:
Again, with a busy lifestyle and especially with children, each day is a mystery. Will they sleep tonight? Will nursery be closed for the next four weeks? Will we be asked to self-isolate tomorrow? Who knows? Control the variables. Focus on making progress, not perfection. If you can’t fit in a full hour session, get in the main part, or do a 15minute home work out. If the options on the menu aren’t the best go for the best option.
To conclude, I didn’t just wake up one day with four kids and a healthy lifestyle, it has taken years of small steps, changing tactics and seeing what works. I still have bad days (woops, I mean bad moments!) but it’s the accumulation of healthy habits that get you to where you want to be.
Remember that building healthy habits as a family starts with you! Set the example, be patient and trust the process.
If you ever need some suggestions on how we can start implementing some healthy lifestyle hacks get in touch for a chat.
By: Minhal Bhojani, Performance Coach