12 Months – Eating and getting active for parents
Life for parents with a new baby is not always as expected. It can be difficult to juggle the many and varied priorities you have — sleep, domestic chores, family life, work AND taking care of yourself. Self-care is essential, because if parents are healthy and happy, everyone else is likely to be as well. These tips may help!
- Nap when your baby naps; even catnapping or lying on the floor or couch can recharge your batteries.
- Ask for help from others when you need a break.
- Set aside at least 10 minutes on most days to sit with a cup of something by yourself, with no pressure to get up and ‘do stuff that needs to be done’; or enjoy a bath, jigsaw puzzle or magazine.
- Get support from those who are in similar situations as you, such as other new parents. Groups that gather with babies at similar ages and stages are a great avenue for venting and discussing issues.
Your physical activity
As well as running around after your child, some type of physical activity each day can increase fitness, strengthen bones and muscles and boost endurance. Physical activity also releases ‘feel good’ endorphins that can improve your mental health and mood. It can reduce stress and provide ‘time out’.
Keeping active tips
- Schedule a regular family walk for example on Sundays.
- Get to know your local neighborhood and the local child-friendly parks and playgrounds.
- Develop the habit of ‘going for a short walk’ every day and do some exercises in the lounge room while your child is playing.
- Try using a pedometer! A pedometer is a device that counts the number of steps you take. It might motivate you to walk further.
Common excuses and strategies to combat your excuses
I don’t have time.
- Even 10 minutes of activity here and there add up and can make a big difference.
- Try walking to a destination rather than driving.
- Walk around the lounge while on the phone rather than sitting.
I’m too tired.
- Studies actually show that the less active you are the more tired you feel.
- Activity = energy.
- Being physically active can be a great way to relieve stress and improve your mood.
I don’t have a babysitter.
- Find an activity that you and your baby can enjoy together for example yoga.
- Go for a pram walk – it may turn a ‘bad day’ around.
- Try dancing around the house to favourite music with your baby.
Your screen time
‘Screen time’ includes watching TV, playing computer and video games, and surfing the internet. Recent recommendations are for adults to limit their screen time to 2 hours per day.
Why would it be good to limit your screen time?
- Screen time very easily replaces play or outside activities.
- May promote more high energy snacking — especially the type advertised on TV.
- Parents have a key role in limiting children’s screen time.
Ideas to help reduce screen time for both you and your child
- Consider designating certain days or times of the day where no TV is watched or the computer is off.
- Keep TV’s and computers out of bedrooms.
- Plan your TV time by selecting want you want to watch in advance for the week and have the TV turned off at other times.
- Make one night per week a family board game, card night or reading out loud night, rather than a family movie watching night.
- Turn the radio or a CD on if you like background noise.
- You may like to keep a record of your time spent in ‘screen time’ that is not work related for the next week as it can be interesting to take a look at your own behaviours.
TAKING A LOOK AT YOUR OWN RECREATIONAL SCREEN TIME
Keep track of the number of hours you spend on screen time
over the next week that are not work related
A good goal might be to limit your screen time to 2 hours a day or less.
How many times a week was your ‘total’ column higher than 2 hours?
Would you like to decrease your screen time?
If yes, why would this be important to you? How will you accomplish your goal?
Your own eating
Eating well is important for many reasons:
- So that you have enough energy to care for your child (remember the odd day that you may not have eaten well and how you felt).
- You are your child’s most important role model and they will want to eat what you eat.
- Establishes eating styles, patterns, rules and habits that the whole family will follow into the years to come.
- Improves long-term health and vitality, and reduces the likelihood of the development of chronic diseases for example diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
A parent activity
Take a look at your own eating by answering the questions below. Compare your answers to what is recommended at the end of the section.
Record your intake of the following that you ate or drank yesterday:
(1 serving = 1 glass / 1 tetra pak / ½ can)
- Fruit juice/fruit juice drinks
- Soft drinks
- Flavoured milk
- Water (bottled or tap)
Your total number of serves of serves yesterday =
‘discretionary’ or ‘sometimes foods’
(1 serve = one muesli or fruit bar / 1 row of chocolate from family block / ¼ of a large muffin / an adult handful of chips, potato wedges / half a small chocolate bar (20 g) / a small doughnut or pastry/ an fistful of lollies / 2—3 plain sweet biscuits)
- Packaged snacks (like crisps/chips)
- Chocolate or confectionary
- Cake, doughnuts, sweet biscuits/muffins
- Ice-cream (1 scoop)
- Potato wedges
Your total number of serves yesterday =
Fruits and Vegetables
(1 serve = 1 piece fruit or 2 small pieces/ 1 cup of fruit pieces/ ½ cup of cooked vegetables / 1 cup of salad)
Your total number of serves yesterday =
- Sweet drinks AND ‘sometimes’ foods
- Recommended – 2½ serves or less
- Recommended – 8 serves
- Recommended – 2 serves
- Recommended – 5 serves
- Recommended – 2 serves or less
How does your eating compare to what is recommended?
What would you need to change to get closer to what is recommended?