Whether you're planning on having kids someday, are preparing to become a new parent very soon (according to my nurse friends, there's quite a “Covid Baby Boom” going on right now), or are currently in the thick of the parenting mess, barely finding the time to scroll through this article on your iPhone, perhaps during a feeding, nap time, or in between tantrums, one thing is for certain: parenting is no joke, and trying to balance a career, hobbies, personal time, and health with parenting is darn near impossible…
…and that's especially true for mothers, who, more often than not, carry the brunt of the parenting burden for the majority of the early days of their children's lives.
Now, I can't comment on being a mother, but I am a father of two twin boys, and as a result, I have witnessed my wife juggle everything that comes with parenting them on a daily basis and am in awe of how much grace, patience, intention, self-awareness, balance, and quite frankly, straight-up energy, it takes to be a mom. So, in order to bring some attention to this topic, and also perhaps provide some much-needed guidance on how to balance motherhood with everything else in life, I invited someone who does know a thing or two about being a mother to write this guest article—Lauren Berlingeri.
Lauren Berlingeri is a mother of twins, female “biohack-her”, Certified Holistic Nutritionist, health coach, TV host, and Co-founder and CEO of HigherDOSE (use code BEN for a 15% discount), a company that cultivates the hottest at-home wellness tools designed to ignite vitality from the inside-out, including infrared, PEMF, and Red Light devices. HigherDOSE has a mission to make people feel good with products that naturally release dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins (hence the “DOSE” and their tagline, “Get High Naturally”), and while their products undoubtedly benefit both men and women, their personal and professional focus on the female body informs the way that they run their company and develop their products.
I interviewed Lauren and her business partner Katie Kaps a while back on the podcast in which we discussed the topic of biohacking for women, and how it can (and should) look different for females. Additionally, Lauren wrote a previous guest post, which you can read here, that detailed her advice on women's health, fitness, hormones, and beauty, including her top three biohacks for women.
So, to continue the much-needed conversation on women's health, Lauren is bringing you her top eight tips for balancing motherhood with your health, career, and time, to hopefully save you from having to learn these lessons the hard way (which you'll learn is exactly what happened to her).
How A Stress-Induced Grand Mal Seizure Made Rethink Parenting
In my first year of motherhood, I didn’t have the right balance (or really any balance at all) and was obsessed with doing everything in my power to be the “perfect mother” who made “perfect health decisions” for her babies. For example, I was determined to breastfeed both of my twin babies until their second birthday, and never wanted to be separated from them.
It wasn’t until I experienced a Grand Mal seizure around the twins’ first birthday that I learned how vital balance is as a parent. I believe the seizure was caused by sleep deprivation, stress, and dehydration while using coping mechanisms such as a glass of wine or splurging on food as a way to “treat myself” for all of my hard work and sacrifice.
The seizure was my body’s way of telling me the cold hard truth: despite my best intentions to be a “good mother,” I could not continue living in a state of constant depletion and was in major need of rest and a reset.
Since becoming a mother, my biggest challenge has been figuring out when to put my kids first versus when to put myself first. But, now I know that it’s not actually an either-or situation—in fact, it’s both.
As an entrepreneur, finding a balance between my business, health, and parenting my two-year-old twins isn’t easy, but I now know that it's absolutely a non-negotiable. I can't afford not to. So I want to share my learnings with you, to help you find a little more balance and peace in your life, while being the be the best parent you can be and maintaining your health and sanity. It sounds impossible, but with intention and dedication, I can promise you it's doable!
8 Simple Ways to Find Balance As a Mother (& Parent)
Through the experience of having a medical emergency as a wake-up call, I began to look at my life and parenthood through a different lens where I no longer strive for perfection, but for balance.
Now, over a year after my seizure, I have not only found the balance I so desperately needed during that first year but have successfully maintained it.
Combining my healthy lifestyle with how I raise my children is at the core of how I manage everything, finding time to care for myself, my business, and my babies. Here's how I do it.
Tip 1: Combine Exercise And Hanging Out With Your Kids
Rather than splitting time between hanging out with my kids and exercising, I now combine the two.
I purchased the Honey Bee Trailer and it has been an absolute game-changer. It's a trailer that your kiddos can ride in, which can be attached to a bike or used as a running stroller. Now, I can run, rollerblade, or cycle with my twins in tow, which means they get to have fun while I get my much-needed exercise in. Additionally, I'll use the time when I take my kids to the park to set a Tabata timer and do bodyweight workouts while they play on the swings, chase each other in the grass, or climb around on the monkey bars (while keeping one eye on them, of course).
Tip 2: Double Down On The Times You Connect Most
For me and my family, one of our most quality moments together is when the twins have bath time. Instead of sitting outside the bath watching them play, I now bathe with them, throw in some Epsom salts—which are great for relaxing kids, too—and play learning games with them using floating colored bath toys or sign language.
While it may not be as peaceful as my own solo salt bath with candles and a good book, this family bath time still helps my energy shift to a more relaxed state, and my kids can definitely sense that transition. I feel like they learn so much more when I’m in that more relaxed way of being.
Tip 3: Wake Up Early For “You Time”
My morning ritual has become a requirement for my well-being. In order to have that time to myself without the kids, I wake up before them, around 5:45 am. I spend my “me time” drinking celery juice and my morning coffee, which includes adaptogens and homemade cashew milk. Then, I jump into the sauna for some red light therapy and infrared heat rejuvenation.
When you become a parent, it's easy to lose time for yourself because every waking moment is dedicated to your child/children. So, the early morning hours may end up being your best friend for getting some peace, quiet, and time to just be yourself. This helps me stay centered and balanced and ready for whatever the day ahead may bring.
Tip 4: Eat Dinner Early
Dinner time is important in my household and we strive to eat it early, between 5:00 and 5:30 p.m. This also allows us to have more uninterrupted family time and time to relax or take a long walk after dinner.
After dinner, I don’t eat again until my morning celery juice 12 hours later, which helps me sleep better and get a longer overnight fast in. Consuming an early dinner has actually been proven to help lower your blood sugar and burn fat, while on the contrary, eating a late dinner can cause higher blood sugar levels and weight gain. It's also better for your kiddo's sleep, too.
Tip 5: Have Boundaries With Your Phone And Work
After becoming a parent, it's become increasingly important for me to set (and stick to!) boundaries with work and screen time.
I don't start work until around 10 a.m.—only after my kids are up and we've eaten a healthy breakfast, done a workout (such as running, rollerblading, or cycling with the Honey Bee Trailer), and spent time at the park. After the workday, I promptly at 5 p.m. for dinnertime and try not to be on my phone or answer emails after our mealtime. This means getting off the phone during bedtime, too, which I'll be touching on in just a moment.
Tip 6: Trade Alcohol For Breathwork
I no longer use a glass of wine to relax at the end of the day or “treat” myself for my hard work, which felt like a nice thing at the time, but ultimately ended up contributing to my health scare. Instead, I practice “breath of fire” or a 10-minute Kundalini breathwork exercise to go from the energy of a hectic workday to a calm and relaxed mother.
You can check out this article from Ben on why breathwork and breathing techniques are so important for your health and different techniques you can use in your own life. Additionally, Othership is an app Ben uses to practice breathwork that comes with a variety of different breathing exercises for different areas of your day (rising, nighttime, etc.).
Tip 7: Tune Into Self-Awareness
For me, breathwork allows me a space to increase my level of self-awareness and tap into conscious thinking that helps me release the masculine energy required for the workday and step into more of my nurturing feminine energy, which is beneficial for my children and my family.
Alternatively, you can find other ways to “tune in” via meditation, prayer, journaling, or solo time in nature. I'd recommend finding at least 10 minutes every day to practice whatever self-awareness method you choose (perhaps during that morning “you” time).
Tip 8: Prioritize Sleep
Easier said than done, I know—but this one is super important.
I know that I personally need between eight and nine hours of sleep every night. In order to get that amount, I have a few go-to sleep hygiene habits, including getting off any and all devices at least an hour before bed (including the TV), which helps me fall asleep at 9 p.m. and wake up at 5:45 a.m. the next morning.
Being well-rested is the foundation of success in all three areas of my life (motherhood, entrepreneurship, and biohacking). In addition to shutting down the devices, I try to watch the sun go down every evening to help get some of that red and infrared light, which helps set your circadian rhythm to fall with darkness and raise with the sun.
I was once at a point where finding a healthy balance between meeting the demands of work and parenting and the necessity of taking care of my health seemed like a pipe dream as I set impossibly high expectations of myself as a mother and entrepreneur. I know now that finding success in these three pillars of my life isn’t about achieving the perfection I once clutched onto; it’s about striking a balance and finding ways to integrate them together so I can better manage and maximize my time, energy, and health.
It's no surprise that whether you're a mom or dad (but especially a mom), finding the same time you had for yourself pre-children is challenging, to say the least.
Your entire life now revolves around this life you've created, which is no doubt a beautiful thing, but can often lead parents (women especially) to sacrifice their own health and wellbeing for that of their child(ren).
But, as you've learned from Lauren's story and have maybe experienced yourself, you cannot pour from an empty cup. To be the best parent you can be for your kids, it helps to find small ways throughout the day to balance their needs with your own mental, physical, and emotional health.
To recap Lauren's top ways that you can better balance your time, health, and parenting:
- Bring your kids and exercise time together. Instead of trying to attempt at splitting these two things up (which can inevitably end in your workout being short-lived) bring your kids into your workout and have some fun with it!
- Double-down on the times you connect most, such as bathtime or dinner time.
- Wake up early for some “you time.” Even if you're not a morning person, you'll quickly learn that this time may be the only hours you get for just you—and those times are few and far between, so make the most of them.
- Eat dinner early. Consuming an early dinner has actually been proven to help lower your blood sugar and burn fat while eating a late dinner can cause high blood sugar levels and weight gain.
- Set boundaries with your phone and work. It's all too easy to get wrapped up in work, emails, and social media. Setting boundaries reminds you to put the phone and work away and be present as much as you can be.
- Trade alcohol consumption for breathwork, which can be a much healthier option, physically and emotionally.
- Become more self-aware and tuned in, whether that's through breathwork, meditation, prayer, journaling, or something else. Self-awareness is extremely beneficial for yourself, your children, and your family as a whole.
- Prioritize your sleep. This is a big one! If you know how much sleep your body needs to function, make it a top priority to get that much sleep each night. Many moms (and parents, in general) ignore their need for sleep when they have kids around, so this is much easier said than done, but important nonetheless.
So, how has your own lifestyle changed since having kids? Have you incorporated any of the above tips into your own parenting lifestyle? What else have you found useful to maintain your health and sanity? Drop your thoughts in the comments section below and I'll try to personally respond to each one.