Dr. Mom: Remember, self time can help your kids, too

08/23/2012 12:00 AM

02/26/2013 8:10 PM

This one is for you, parents.

In all the hustle and bustle that is the end of summer and the start of a new school year, take some time for yourself.

I know it isn't easy. We're often so extremely focused on doing things for our children.

But as a pediatrician and mom, I can tell you this: Your health and happiness matters just as much as your children's. In fact, what you do for yourself has a direct effect on the health of your children. So, rest assured, by making yourself a priority, you are doing your kids a huge favor.

Five habits worth making and keeping:

Sleep

No doubt you make sure your kids hit the sack on time. The same should go for you. Aim for an average of seven hours a night.

Of course the amount you need varies per individual, but the point is, sleep matters. Getting sufficient sleep will stave off obesity and diabetes, and make you feel energized through most of your day.

Exercise

We are all time-crunched, and the excuses are numerous. I know, I've used many of them.

But every time I manage to squeeze in a little cardio or time at my favorite gym, I feel so good. Not only does exercise lift one's mood, it's good for the heart.

Another bonus? By watching you exercise, your kids are more likely to get moving, too.

The next time you're feeling guilty for dragging your kids to the gym or making them wait while you hop on the elliptical, remember that you're doing something positive to keep the whole family healthy.

Don't smoke

We all know the damage smoking can do, so if you've thought about quitting, the time is now. Second-hand smoke can hurt your child's health by worsening asthma symptoms and leaving them prone to ear and other respiratory infections. It's also a risk factor for pre-term birth.

Play

Do something for you every day. Whether it's 10 minutes with your favorite book, chatting with a close friend, or planning a vacation. Make daily "you" time a must-do. Happy parents equal happy kids.

Go on a date

Yes, go on a date with your spouse or significant other. It's easy to put relationships on the back burner when we're so focused on the kids.

However, maintaining our marriages and relationships is just as important.

It's good for our kids to see us connecting and making time for each other.

Find a trustworthy sitter for the kids and go out on that date.

With a little planning, these five habits are worth making and keeping – for you and your family.

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