Building healthy habits in 2020 - tips for busy parents

Updated: Feb 18, 2020

Adopting healthier habits can be a challenge, even a daunting task, when we are juggling many different aspects of life. For busy mums and dads, work and family often takes priority and finding time to devote to ourselves can fall by the wayside. I honestly know how you feel because the juggle is real for me too!

So how do we build sustainable healthy habits…?

For starters, it’s important to remember we are all different, with our own personal hurdles, lifestyles and beliefs. So what works for you, will probably not work for me…It’s about finding the right approach that is realistic and achievable for YOU. With this in mind, I have compiled a list of useful tips and tricks for you to consider.

1. Keep the changes small and specific to you and it will be more achievable

Ensure that the changes you want to put in place are small enough to blend into your lifestyle. Many diets require us to make sweeping changes to our diets, which can feel uncomfortable and hard to stick to. With so many fad diets out there it can be confusing. Think of your current lifestyle and where you can make changes that won’t overwhelm you. Let’s face it we don’t need more of that in our lives!

  • If you want to make eating fruit a habit, start by adding a fruit you love as a daily snack, or add it to your breakfast a few times a week.

  • Thinking of going vegan? Start by having a couple of evening meals a week that are plant-based. Find a few recipes that really set your tastebuds on fire to get you started!

2. Make your new habit simple and convenient for YOU

Healthy habits are built when they are simple, convenient and able to easily fit in to your lifestyle. Whilst we may have the desire to practice yoga everyday, is it do-able in our daily schedule? It is good to be realistic from the outset.

Choose healthy habits that can easily fit around a busy lifestyle:
  • It has been found that just 30 seconds of deep breathing can help lower blood pressure. Deep breathing can be done anywhere - on the train, in bed, on the sofa with the kids.

  • Any type of walking is beneficial to lowering blood pressure. Granted, you may not feel like your blood pressure is low when you are trying to get the kids to school, but rest assured that walking is still good for you!

  • Carry healthy snacks with you on the go! The swap from sugary to healthy snacks will be a whole lot easier if you carry some healthy snacks with you.

  • Want to up your water intake? Carry a water bottle (reusable preferably) with you wherever you go. Keep it on your desk, in your bag with you in your meetings. Having it right next to you will remind you to drink it.

Habit stacking

I really like this the idea of habit stacking developed by James Clear, author of Atomic Habits. The basic idea is to attach a new habit on to an existing one. Theory being, when we link a new habit to one that is already built into our brains, we are more likely to stick to it.

So, for example, one of mine is… Straight after the school drop-off, I will go for a walk around the fields. I do the school drop off daily so it fits much more easily into my day and I’m back for work by 9.15am.

The basic outline is as follows… After/Before [CURRENT HABIT], I will [NEW HABIT]…

Have a think of what you could do. Just remember your action needs to be specific and immediately actionable.

4. If time is a barrier, evaluate your diary

In order to make lifestyle changes, we need to be realistic about what we can achieve. When we are being pulled in multiple directions, it’s really easy to think we have no time for ourselves, but by evaluating our time we may just find some pockets.

Exercise: Write out your normal full day, hour by hour and minute by minute. List everything you do, even the chores like washing up, cooking dinner, having a shower, watching TV, relaxing, time spent on your phone. Be honest! It may also be good to do this on a weekly basis too.

Now consider the following:

  • Where do I have pockets of downtime? Are there any time periods that stick out I could make use of?

  • Can I say ‘no’ to some things? Identify things in your calendar that aren’t essential and decline a couple of them. Consider what you could do in its place.

  • How much time do I spend on my phone? Get a weekly tracker, to see how much time you really spend on your phone and what you are using it for. It can be very enlightening! Using a weekly tracker made me realise just how much time I spent on my phone. We each have a choice how we spend our time.

In doing this, you may just see that that hour spent on the phone or watching TV could easily be converted to doing some batch cooking, preparing some snacks or doing some stretching on the lounge floor.

4. Find your wellness circle/tribe

Healthier habits are much easier to stick to when we surround ourselves with like-minded individuals, who have similar wellness goals and values. This could be offline or virtual. Follow those who urge you on, motivate and inspire you to keep going. Similarly, avoid those that may sabotage your efforts or make it harder!

5. Be consistent, not perfect!

To embed healthier habits in to our everyday life we need to be consistent, but not perfect. If you don’t get your workout in as planned, don’t be hard on yourself. Just pick up the next day and keep going. By adopting small, specific and convenient changes you are much likely to be consistent. Once you’ve built a new habit into your lifestyle, it will motivate you to take on the next challenge…

There are proven health benefits to making even small, everyday changes to our diet and lifestyle. Small changes are still changes and you will notice the difference! NLC is designed to help you build sustainable, healthy habits. If you would like your very own NLC plan, get in touch with Suzie…

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