Mornings are rough. We brush too many teeth to count, we pack lunches, carpool, rush to make it to work on time. Coffee gets us through until lunchtime when we eat a quick bite to get right back to work where we put on our best show. Thank goodness for makeup to hide those dark circles and for energy drinks. By 3pm we need a nap and we have the kids to pick up and entertain. We cook dinner, wipe bottoms, fold laundry, and count down to bedtime, all with a smile on our faces. We are single mothers and we are tired!
You don’t have to inherit the early bird gene or have coffee in an IV to have energy to make it through each day. What you do need is some healthy habits. Here are some ways to beat the grogginess and sluggishness that seems to attack single mothers. How you feel today is very much a result of how you spent your yesterday. So to make today a refreshing day we must maintain a ritual of good healthy habits.
For starters, you have got to get enough sleep. This may mean changing bedtimes and laying down a new stricter routine for yourself and the kids. In a report by the National Sleep Foundation, 63 percent of Americans report not getting enough sleep during the week. It’s generally recommended that adults get seven to nine hours of sleep but your body may need more or less to function. Pay attention to your body’s cues. On the weekend try to go to bed when you feel tired and wake up without an alarm clock, or um the children jumping on the bed. We are like our kids in that by going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time every day we can train our body to be more awake in the morning.
Dou you have gas, bloating, and feel like you just cant sleep once you are actually in bed? This could be because you are eating too late in the day. Eating late in the day and too close to bedtime means you are digesting and this can cause you to feel this way. It can also cause you to have to get up several times to use the restroom at night. If you are juggling kids and must eat late, then keep it light. Alcohol is a big energy robber, so save the occasional drink for the weekends and don’t drink 4 hours before bedtime. Caffeine a temporary energy booster, early in the day can keep us up even in the wee hours, so caffeine past 3pm is best avoided, or at noon if you are sensitive. This is because caffeine is a naturally occurring stimulant that increases adrenaline production. Most energy drinks have too many stimulating substances that lead to low blood sugar and cause fatigue so they should always be avoided. Your best bet is to eat smaller meals throughout the day and drink mostly water.
When you start your day start it off right just like you say to your kids. Breakfast truly is the most important meal of the day. You actually wake up dehydrated which will make you sleepy. Drinking water or juice will energize you. Grab an apple and peanut butter for protein, but some people do better with meals with carbs such as oatmeal. Do pass on the sugar loaded pancakes or cereal or you will crash when the sugar level drops. One of your best bets is a banana at breakfast. Tuft University researchers say you’ll increase your energy 20 percent for two hours straight because it stimulates muscles, nerves and brain cells to function at their peak.
Get into the light! When you have your breakfast or morning routine, open the windows or sit on the porch. This drops your melatonin level and literally wakes you up and makes you more alert. Even just 15 to 30 minutes of sunlight can make you a safer driver on your way to work or school. If your office has no windows you may consider buying a light box to substitute for the sun, or just be sure to take nature breaks and go for a quick walk in the sunlight.
Working out works. Who knew all that sweating and burning of energy actually give you energy for later? The building of muscle mass keeps your body burning fat throughout the day. Just 30 minutes a day keeps blood flowing and oxygen to the brain which means more stamina for all that work you need to tackle. Even 30-seconds of stretching can boost energy and concentration 55 percent for one hour says Stanford University researchers.
On your way to get the kids and begin the afternoon routine you can pop a stick of peppermint gum. Chewing with the strong scent of mint can boost alertness within three minutes by stimulating the trigeminal nerve, which sends wake-up signals directly to the brain. Also smaller bursts of activity like playing ball with the kids or sweeping the kitchen, spread over the day will give you an energy boost.
At the end of the day tuck yourself into your dark, cool room and comfy bed. With these new habits you will gain a newfound energy. Not only will your kids enjoy this new energetic mother, you too will enjoy the extra hours that you feel refreshed that you can add to your “me time”.