Being on the go so much, it’s really easy to get distracted and stop paying attention to how you should be taking care of yourself. Last month, we shared about how to stay healthy while traveling, particularly during cold and flu season. What about the rest of the year though, when you’re just busy in general? We have some great ideas for easy self-care while traveling or at home.
Being parents, so often we’re focused on what the kids need, so we actually have to plan and intentionally make time for self-care. How do we do it? What steps do we take to ensure that both us dads are mentally and physically healthy and ready to be there for our family? Well, here’s the scoop.
It used to be that whenever I would hear the term “self-care” I’d have thoughts about being selfish or protective of oneself. As I’ve gotten older I have a much more chill and holistic understanding of it and we as a family place a lot of value on it.
Minding after your own health and happiness is incredibly important. Happiness, even in small doses, leads way to productivity which in turn frees up time for family, which brings more happiness and better mental health. Taking care of yourself is one of the greatest gifts you can give your family and friends. See? Self-care isn’t selfishness at all.
Self-care and Traveling for Health
I think that’s one of my favorite concepts ever: traveling for health. You know how sometimes life is just a drag and you feel like you’re getting nowhere or you’re just in a funk? Taking time away for mental health and to seek out some happiness and relaxation is totally justifieable. In the USA we don’t have as much paid time off as most other Western countries, which means that we need to make the most of it.
Traveling for health is our favorite form of self-care. When we take vacation (vs work trips) we are sure to choose relaxing activities that we can do as a family. And we’re sure to maximize our time in the fresh air. This combination of fun, freedom and family does so much for our overall mental health. It brings us closer and allows us to be active together.
Tip: when you’re traveling, take advantage of a new setting to branch out and add something healthy to your routine. Hotel fitness centers, in-room yoga programs, new running trails… all of these things can be inspiring and beneficial.
As I write this, I’m actually at a yoga retreat on Isla Holbox, just off the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. True, I’m working and traveling, but between the emails and work time, I’m taking moments to participate in yoga classes and to go for long walks on the beach. I’m branching out and finding places to clear my mind, all while traveling for health… I mean traveling for work.
Note: check out our interview with one of our LMP friends, Kelly. She’s all about physical and mental health and has some great advice and science behind traveling in the light of self-care.
Self-care in the everyday: at home or on the road
Health takes all different shapes. For us Dads, we aim to be healthy on the road just as much as at home. And just like the time away helps us with our mentail self-care, time at home helps us form good habits that we continue to uphold while traveling.
Since it’s fun to be cliched every now and then, we decided to make New Years resolutions to be more healthy in two areas.
Self-care goal 1: be more physically active, including working out and practicing yoga. Success so far! Between setting aside time each day at home and leveraging down-time when on the road, we’ve both been able to keep up our active lifestyle change and we both feel and look more healthy. And we work to find ways that we can be active with our kids too. We do Cosmic Kids Yoga together, and often when we are using our home-gym, the boys will want to exercise too, which is adorable and awesome all at once!
Tip: if you’re just getting back into working out or have an old injury that’s coming back to haunt you, you might have some pain or soreness. If you are using any sort of over the counter medication for pain management, check out this tool to make sure you’re making smart choices that are appropriate for your body.
Self-care goal 2: make consistent healthy eating choices. This isn’t dieting. This is choosing to make or order meals that are balanced and prepared in a clean-eating framework. What this looks like in our house is opting to make veggies and beans with a meal instead of mac ‘n cheese or mashed potatoes. It’s baking fish instead of frying it up. It’s buying grapes to have on hand instead of the kids searching through the cupboard for their Halloween candy stash (cuz it’s gone anyways).
Between changing our eating habbits and being active as a family, we’ve been able to ensure that self-care is engrained in our daily lives, both at home and when we’re traveling.
To go along with healthy eating, we also are sure to take our vitamins and probiotics especially when traveling. The kids know that vitamins aren’t candy but like having them as part of their morning routine. While vitamins aren’t always necessary, they can be a great addition to ensure you taking care of the inside of your body too. And probitoics… let’s just say that travel can be tough on your GI system. 🙂
Tip: check out this handy info from KnowYourOTCs.org regarding vitamins and when to incorporate them into your routine.
Teaching kids about self-care
It’s funny when you start to think about the specific life-skills you have to teach kids. Yeah, there’s proper hygiene and tying shoes and all, but you also have to teach them to be aware of themselves, their actions, and their feelings. You also have to teach them how to communicate their emotions and needs. What a journey that is.
As we’ve been teaching the kids the importance of self-care, we’ve focused on being physically active and creative. Creativity is something that’s really important to us, and not just because we like getting cute paintings, but because it helps kids work through a different type of energy that builds up. It also helps a lot of people, kids and adults, express different emotions that they might not be able to talk about out loud.
Tip: if you’re homeschooling or just spending more time with your kids than you know what to do with, invest in easy to clean up art supplies. Crayons and watercolors are always a hit and make travel days (or rainy days at home) much easier. And they’re being creative!
For us, making a decision with the New Year to really focus on self-care for both us Dads and the kids, it’s been incredible. We’ve gotten along better than ever because we’re more relaxed and happier. We’ve not been getting sick when the world around us has been sneezing and coughing up a storm. Exercising conscious self-care has become a habit and it can only get better.
What are some other ways that we can practice self-care or teach the kids about it? We’d love to hear suggestions. And if you have any additional tips about self-care while traveling, please share them with us!
Along with the rest of the Know Your OTCs team we partner with, check out our thoughts on self-car and things you can do to ensure you’re being your best you for your family and yourself.
Want to pin this post for later when you’re thinking about making some life-changes? Go for it! And don’t forget, it takes a few weeks for a habit to truly form, so if you start something new, give it time and stick with it!
Rob Taylor is the founder of 2TravelDads, the original LGBT Family Travel blog. Focusing on ecotourism and education, 2TravelDads inspires LGBT families (and traditional families also) to go beyond their usual getaways and use travel to learn about and be part of a bigger world. “Traveling the globe and giving the kids a broad worldview.”