By: Colleen Hammann
Integrative Nutrition Health Coach
(8 Min Read)

By: Colleen Hammann
Integrative Nutrition Health Coach
(5 min read)

Purposeful Maintenance for the Busy Parent
Ah, motherhood. Its my favorite job, the best gift I’ve ever been given, and the reason for the mini pep talks I give myself a dozen times per day. If you are a parent you know just how stressful it can be and how hard it is to steal a moment for yourself. Many of us are working
extremely busy, with everyday parent worries and countless external stressors that we face each day. All of the little ways you used to treat yourself seem like a distant memory, replaced by diaper changes, chasing a toddler, playing dress up, running to a sport or activity function and a never-ending list of new responsibilities. Things that you thought were tiring in your previous pre-child life now don't even hold a candle to the real level of exhaustion that being a parent brings on. It brings a whole new meaning to the word stamina to keep up with the responsibilities of parent life. Studies have shown that our relationship with our kids is largely dependent on our ability to manage stress, so it's in our best interest to take care of ourselves by effectively managing stress.

As demanding and overwhelming as parenting can be, putting your own needs on the back burner isn’t the answer! As a result of constant stress, your body builds up resistance and tolerance to coexist with continuous stressors. This extended release of stress hormones has
adverse effects on your body, lowering your immunity defenses and making you more susceptible to illness. The final burnout stage represents your body’s inability to cope with continuously high demands. After all, it’s not natural to feel like you are in a “fight or flight
response” which mobilizes you to take action and avoid danger. It's perfectly healthy when there is a real emergency (like a bear chase haha), but if your body is constantly getting stress signals for everyday issues, you’ll burnout over time.

It's much easier to be a good parent when you are balanced on the inside. Decompressing with self-care acts will create harmony and balance in the mind & body. You grow more resilient, calm and capable. If you don't feel fully nourished you can’t give from a place of love & overflow, you often end of giving, even though you feel depleted and you resent whomever you are giving to. So let's make sure you get what YOU need so you can serve, love & live from a place of fulfillment and authenticity, not lack and exhaustion.

Have you ever have those days that you feel like everyone needs something from you and you want to just break down? That is a rhetorical question you are a parent of course you have these days!


You can quickly self-soothe by breathing. I know it sounds so simple but this strategy can keep you sane in tough moments. When we are stressed we aren't even aware of our breath and we tend to breath quick and shallow when stressed. When you control your breath to deep, slow breaths you trigger the relaxation response. You force your mind to calm your racing thoughts and slow everything down in that moment. My favorite go to is Diaphragmatic breathing also called “abdominal breathing” or “belly breathing” this encourages full oxygen exchange- that is the beneficial trade for incoming oxygen for outgoing carbon dioxide. This type of breathing slows the heartbeat and can lower or stabilize blood pressure. Start off by trying this for 2 minutes then try to work your way to 5 minutes then 10 minutes. Every bit counts, even 2 minutes of this breathing will calm you down in times of need.


I'm sure you have heard of the benefits of Meditation and improving your mental state. I have been meditating for over ten years and the level of peace I feel after I meditate brings any stressful day back into perspective. Not to mention it has helped me over the years in facing numerous challenges in the face of difficult times before things get tough with a much better way to cope and deal with situations as they come.

Tip and trick:  try to meditate first thing in the morning (even 2 minutes to start) to set the tone for your day and help you be more content and optimistic.


Some quick and effective fixes are positive affirmations, mantras and practicing gratitude. It's easy to take a step back and remind yourself of your best qualities and recite them to bring awareness to your strengths. No matter how tough times get as they say, they can always be worse and each of us have many blessings in our life that others would envy. So it's important that you list out what you are grateful for in trying moments. Yes, that job may be putting pressure on you but aren't you blessed you have one? Maybe your dishwasher broke but you do have a sink to clean them. As a reminder you don't always need to be in a trying, pressure cooker position to practice gratitude. I personally apply this daily in my house and pass this important skill to my son. Each night before he goes to sleep my husband, son and I all list three things that day we are grateful for. Instantly you rewire your brain to feel abundance and happiness for what you have and allow any thoughts of what you think you are lacking dissipate.


Another quick and effective way to bring your stress level down is to change your environment. By that I mean, it can be as simple as changing to another room in your house, walking outside and sitting on say your porch, or quickly running an errand like grabbing a coffee (for me a matcha latte) and stepping away for a moment to reset your mood. Whenever I feel overwhelmed I force myself to step outside whatever environment I am in and change up the space to refocus, reenergize and regroup.

Don’t underestimate the power of your bathroom! Make the most of the time you get from slipping away by lighting candles, throwing on a good face mask, popping your iPods on and doubling up by listening to some meditation or your favorite genre and slip into a hot bath with some 100% pure magnesium flakes. A shower can also work wonders as well just make sure you are adding in some breathing techniques and maximizing your time in the shower so you can come out of it feeling like you stole a little time for yourself. Believe me you will feel proud of stealing moments like this and not rushing through the process.

Tip & Trick: Schedule self-care in your calendar daily & treat it like an important meeting because it is! When taking care of yourself be fully engaged as you want to get the most benefits and will return to work, your social life or home with renewed energy and focus. This
way you ensure you are putting the effort in daily to invest in yourself that way a build up of tension doesn't occur and your are taking the time to nurture yourself as well as you nurture all other aspects of your life. (kids, partner, work etc.)


I know that practicing a healthy habits seems harder than before on borrowed time with all the added responsibilities. However, eating well, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep will help you keep your stress levels in check as taking care of yourself physically you are less likely to feel overwhelmed. Sometimes the lack of planning makes us stressed, and then that passes along to our children.

A good nights sleep makes you able to tackle the day’s stress more easily. Lack of sleep can lead to higher levels of stress, frustration, depression and anxiety. Sleep can also lower thinking and problem-solving skills, attention span, memory, patience, ability to connect with friends and family and even physical health. Uninterrupted nights might not be an option for all right now, (I know it is not for my husband and I with a six month year old) but make sure you are sharing nighttime baby duties so everyone gets enough sleep. Keep in mind the following when it comes to getting a good nights sleep. Eat a variety of healthy foods and limit sugar and caffeine intake. Experiment with light evening meals and crowd out late-night snacking. Digestion requires energy - when a large meal is consumed at night. it interferes with the body’s ability to rest. Avoid late-night beverages. Ingesting liquids right before bed often leads to a dreaded middle-of-the-night bathroom run, which disturbs the sleep cycle and therefore hinders sleep quality. Lay off the devices an hour before bed (phones, TV’s, computers, video games) these devices emit artificial “blue light” that can affect your body’s production of melatonin and, in turn, your quantity and quality of sleep. Instead, read a book or journal or unwind with a bath or shower.


The tension caused by stress wreaks havoc on sleep quality, food choices, and overall health. Finding a proper outlet for built-up tension helps us manage our stress productivity, achieve balance, and avoid stress-related ailments, such as tight muscles, digestive distress, and
substance abuse. Never under estimate the power of a walk, or getting 30 minutes in the gym daily as it can drastically help your mind and body. Physical activity supports emotional health in multiple areas. It can increase feelings of joy by boosting confidence with people you enjoy spending time with. If you are a morning person use that extra energy and consider adding a workout to your morning routine. Do you find yourself losing concentration in the afternoon? Maybe a brisk walk at this point can help you refocus your thoughts. Begin to notice your body’s cycles during the day and see how you can use them to your advantage. you and your family.


There is something to be said about an organized space. The old saying, “A cluttered space is a cluttered mind” is so true! You often feel the energy of the clutter in the form of stress in your mind. Organize your work and living spaces to be clutter free, peaceful environments. Plan your schedule out using a daily or weekly planner. Prioritize your tasks and focus on one thing at a time. Don't put pressure on yourself to get everything done immediately instead list out what is the priority and check it off as accomplished. You will feel a sense of accomplishment with every check mark. Last, delegate tasks whenever possible when you feel overwhelmed. They say it takes a village to raise kids and it does so don’t be afraid to reach out for some help to get what you need done.


A lot of self-care focuses inward - taking care of your body, your mental health and strengthening your sense of self. While these are great examples to help take care of yourself and alleviate stress, nurturing relationships is a key component of self-care too, especially for
parents. It's important that you make it a point to reach out to friends and family even if you don't have time to hang out. Having a 30 minute conversation, making dinner with a friend, or a quick kid-free lunch date can make you feel invigorated. You can even join a group or club to make you feel connected outside of your family and parenting. Social connection can lower anxiety, clear your head and boost your mood. Having a positive peer group provides individuals with a balanced perspective by serving as a sounding board. It can become very easy to become isolated with one’s own thoughts and feelings and connecting with others can offer objective feedback and support. In addition to mood boosting benefits, spending time with others can also inspire & motivate, build self-esteem, create a valued sense of self, and - bingo- decrease stress levels. No matter how much you cherish parenting being a parent is hard. You must give yourself
permission to practice self-care to have a fulfilling life. Keep in mind that your participation in self-care will ebb and flow. The areas of your life that need balance will shift and the ways you want to fill those needs will change as well. How self-care looks in your life may change
drastically from one period to the next, but its important that the routine - and the consistent effort of caring for yourself - is always present.


Curious about how health coaching can help you make your own healthy changes? Let’s talk! Schedule an initial complimentary consultation with me today——or pass this offer on to someone you care about!


I received my training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where I learned about more than one hundred dietary theories and studied a variety of practical lifestyle coaching methods. Drawing on this knowledge, I will help you create a completely personalized “roadmap to health” that suits your unique body, lifestyle, preferences, and goals.

Learn more about my training and my unique approach to health coaching on my website and follow me on Instagram.
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