real food tips for the tired mum…
Keeping your family fed with real food is not an easy task. It is definitely worth the effort, but it can be difficult and feel downright impossible sometimes, especially if you are exhausted constantly. I’m going through one of those moments just now.
We’ve just found out that we are expecting another baby and I’ve just come into my second trimester. I don’t do pregnancies well and suffer extreme fatigue and morning sickness that never seems to go. At the same time, I’ve just had to start back at my evening job from my last maternity leave and all together it’s a perfect storm of exhaustion.
Getting my kids fed has become a task I dread and just wears me out, and they are ALWAYS hungry! I feel like as soon as I’ve finished feeding them they are begging for more food. I can deal with their bottomless stomachs when I’m well, but it just feels like too much just now. Even thinking about food makes me feel sick to my stomach.
Yes, I could give in and just feed my kids convenience food and make my life a whole lot easier. I admit that their were a few days when I was at my worst that my boys ate boxed cereal for breakfast and my husband ordered pizza for dinner. We aren’t perfect, but generally I didn’t want to do that. I find my kids behaviour worse when they aren’t eating a healthy diet and I have no energy to deal with even more behaviour problems than a house full of little ones already creates.
This post is for you whether you are going through a tough pregnancy or have some other health struggle that is zapping all of your energy but you still want you and your kids to eat well. As I am hopefully on the last stretch of this dreadful period, I wanted to share a few tips that have helped me continue feeding myself and my family nourishing food when I could barely drag myself out of bed and spent most of breakfast lying on the kitchen floor.
Keep some healthy food easily accessible in your bedroom.
My one year old wakes up anywhere between 6:30 and 8:00 and I am nowhere near being able to get myself out of bed until closer to 8:30 (and even that is a stretch). He is starving when he wakes up and nursing him does not satisfy his hunger pangs. For him I usually keep a few organic baby food pouches in my nightstand that he will feed himself straight from the pouch. They only have real food ingredients, are pretty cheap and don’t make a mess.
When I wake up, I like to have either a homemade, refined sugar-free muffin, some almonds or a plain rice cake near by. It usually takes about 20 minutes after eating that I feel well enough to get out of bed.
Often my other boys will wander into my room between 7:30 and 8:00 and they generally aren’t too hungry first thing in the morning. Some days they are and I just offer them some of my food. I have them bring some toys or books in and they play with my littlest until I am ready to get out of bed.
Make ahead breakfasts.
Morning is the worst time for me of the day, so to make things just a bit easier I have some breakfast foods already made that I can just reheat and serve up.
- Here are a few Paleo Egg Muffins that are easy to make ahead. I lived off these for a while until I couldn’t stomach eggs anymore.
- Also, you can bake some Quinoa Banana Bread or Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal Bars to serve with some Green Smoothies that take only a few minutes to make.
- When I make a batch of oatmeal, I double or triple it so I can use it another morning. Then I just add a bit more milk or coconut milk and heat it up on the stove again.
Or if evening is your hardest time, serve dinner at lunch time and just serve some light, easy to prep food that you’d normally eat for lunch at dinner time.
Make double batches of your meals.
This is key. When I am not well, I make a double or triple batch of my freezable Spaghetti Bolognese every few weeks and pull it out on those nights that I otherwise would be tempted to order pizza or go out.
Some other dishes that I like to bulk cook are pulled pork (which I make into sandwiches, topping for coleslaw or salad, or just by itself), roast chicken (I shred and freeze the extra and can make it into casseroles, topping for salads, enchiladas, mexican stuffed zucchini boats, soups, etc), and fish cakes (served along with salad and roast veggies).
If something is not suitable to freeze, I just plan to use it a few days after the night I made it. That takes a lot of pressure off me later on in the week, when I can just pull it out of the fridge and heat it up for dinner. I like to wait a few days before serving it again, just so things don’t get too boring.
Learn to relax your standards in other areas.
This may be different for everyone, but for me it meant that I let go of getting my kids to help with chores and cooking in the kitchen because I needed to be in and out of the kitchen as quickly as possible.
It also meant that my kids may have eaten more grains than I normally would have allowed. But when your 4 year can make his own sourdough toast with healthier jam, you just let him (especially when he makes it for his brother too). Sometimes my kids ate fruit all day long for their snacks and normally I would have tried to get them to have a bit more balanced snacks.
Normally I try to avoid most types of processed foods (even the healthier versions) but now I’ve come to accept that I just can’t home make everything and that we will have to spend a bit more money than usual for those convenience items.
Sometimes I have to relax my standards in other areas to save my energy to keep my family eating healthy. This means that more days than not my boys are in their pjs all day long and my house is not as clean as I’d like it be. Getting outside everyday is hugely important to me, but I just don’t have the energy to do it. Since I’ve been starting to have a bit more energy I’ve planned with a friend to help me get the kids out once a week. It’s so not enough time outside for my active boys, but its better than nothing.
We’ve given up the more formal parts of our preschool day and just try to get by right now. We read and they do puzzles, build with duplos and play board games. The other day they painted for the first time in months. My kids have been watching way more TV than I’d like, but I get a nap in there so it’s really the only way I can survive and make sure I have energy to make them good food. Not my ideal, but I just have to accept my limitations. It’s not forever.
Collect a handful of meals that take 15 minutes or less.
My meals have become simpler and more repetitive because I try to make them in as little time as possible. The more you make them, the less time they take. One of the quickest meals I can make uses frozen salmon, frozen green beans and roasted sweet potato. While it takes about 20-30 minutes to cook, prep time is under 10 minutes.
Basically, you can prep any meat (steak, chicken breast, thighs, wings, or drumsticks) in minutes and just add some veggies (frozen green beans, steamed broccoli, roasted veg, or a salad). So simple and so quick! Real food doesn’t have to take very long.
Another quick one that I use a lot on my most tired days is tuna salad. It’s just a fresh salad of romaine, tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions topped with a mix of canned tuna and canned salmon dressed with red wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. I add the canned salmon because it’s an amazing source of calcium. Sometimes we serve it with pita other times we don’t.
Do 5 minute clean ups throughout the day.
I don’t have energy for any sustained cleaning, but anytime I go into a another room I try to tidy on my way. When I’m in the bathroom, a generally clean something whether it’s wiping the sink, the toilet lid, or a quick clean of the toilet bowl, etc.
I have to do the dishwasher in batches, but while I wait for things to cook I unload a few things or sweep up some crumbs. I do a few short toy clean up a day with the boys, which helps keep the house a bit less chaotic.
Ask for help.
Enlist your family, friends, and husband to help you and don’t feel guilty. Easier said than done, right? I do my best to clean the kitchen as I go but more days than not I just can’t manage and my husband has to clean it all up in the evening. I’ve had a few times that my friends have offered to help. I’ve let them help me with laundry, bring over some lunch, and just hang out because it gets pretty lonely when you are stuck at home.
Because I home school, its been easier to just let go of things and simplify our schedules to spend most of our time at home to conserve my energy. I really feel for those of you mums who still have to get your kids out the door and off to school. Ask for help. Get neighbors, family or friends to do the drop off and pick up.
I’m on the mend, my energy is coming back slowly and I’m entering the much better second trimester so hopefully I won’t need these helps any longer, but I’m sure as I near my due date I will come back to these and work them back into rotation.
For all of you mum’s that are tired and weary, I hope that some of these tips might ease your day and help you still feel good because while you may not have the energy for other things, you are still nourishing your children’s bodies with healthy food and encouraging healthy habits that they will take with them throughout the rest of their lives. Your kid’s health is so worth it!
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