Best of Both Worlds podcast: Making time for health (and assorted other topics)

Best of Both World podcast with Laura Vanderkam

Today’s episode of Best of Both Worlds combines a couple of good topics.

First, we did a post-mortem on my co-host Sarah’s recent family vacation. Key take-away: vacations with toddlers are hard. Being up from 1:30-5 a.m. with an unhappy kid is miserable even if you’re at the Ritz. It might be even more miserable at the Ritz than a mid-range hotel because the contrast between the promised serenity and the nature of reality can just heighten your despair. Sarah’s husband wound up taking the toddler out for a beach walk at 3:30 a.m. Good times.

The upside of staying in a rented house (either a villa at a hotel, or a VRBO or Air Bnb type option) is that you’re more relaxed about kid noise at 1:30 a.m., and you can also put a younger kid to bed and then not have to sit quietly in the dark. Lesson learned for next time!

We devote the bulk of the episode to talking about ways to make time for health: exercise, sleep, healthy eating, and mental health. We talk about my Hungry Harvest produce boxes — a fun and environmentally friendly way to make sure there’s more produce in the house than there otherwise would be. We talk about the best times to exercise, and the best mindset about exercise: It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Sarah mentioned that pre-kids she used to think if she couldn’t run at least 5 miles, what was the point? But now she’s come to see that doing at least a little something, frequently, adds up. I think the all-or-nothing thinking is common; people decide that it no longer works with the family schedule to go to the gym for an hour every night after work, and therefore working parents can’t exercise. But this doesn’t logically follow.

We end with a question from a listener who has been working just a bit (8-12 hours/week) for the last few years. Her kids are now in school and she’s interested in ramping up, but she’s trying to figure out how to do that (since her current employer doesn’t have a ready possibility for expanding her position). We note that the ramp-up doesn’t have to happen immediately. She can give herself 6-12 months to really think through what she’d like to do, and to talk with lots of people, and learn about the employers in her area. Fortunately, because she’s working 8-12 hours/week and her kids are in school, she has the time and space to do this. Lots of coffees and lunches and deep thinking over a year is bound to produce something — and no doubt something wonderful.

Please give the episode a listen! I listened to the episode this morning driving to/from an appointment and I thought it made the experience more enjoyable…

8 thoughts on “Best of Both Worlds podcast: Making time for health (and assorted other topics)

  1. To me, this is self-care. Doing the things that promote health that we should be doing all the time but don’t always get around to.

  2. I feel Sarah’s pain with the vacation issues. I remember when my children were small, how challenging it was. I am glad we did what we did, but I don’t remember coming home all that relaxed. Real vacations were ones without the children. When our kids were little, our vacations always involved some time with family, even if just for a weekend. This helped our budget since we could stay with family but I also realized it gave my husband and I a little break from dealing with the kids. There were frequently lots of adults and plenty of cousins to watch them and keep them entertained. Looking back, that turned out to be a bigger blessing than we realized. Glad you have some fun weekends planned. Love the podcast.

    1. @Monica – vacationing with other families/extended family can definitely help if people are willing to share childcare duties.

  3. I loved this episode!
    I’m our primary dinnertime cook and meal planner. I do only cook 3 days a week -we do like to go out for fast-casual a couple times during the week (for a break / because of a kid-event / I stopped planning for meals that occur when 2 other adults are in the house and I’m not / we can eat leftovers!) – but the same plan could be followed 5x/week. I only cook via crock pot / instant pot / sheet pan / oven (casseroles!) so that it’s mostly hands-off, or my nanny or husband can just throw it in (the oven). We rotate meals – I have 6 categories and we do 3 every other week. One of those is soup, but my family doesn’t tolerate soup more than every other week, so I freeze the leftovers and have soup for lunch a lot. (Bonus: if I forget to make it to the fridge for a bit, it’s ok because the soup could use defrosting anyway.) I usually have some sort of backup meal in the freezer (usually frozen Chinese meals that cook on the stove in 12 minutes and microwave brown rice, frozen veggies; or breakfast for dinner) in case I forget to start the crockpot or something happens when we’ve planned to go out. And there are usually frozen Dino nuggets in the fridge for when my husband and the nanny are in charge of dinner and don’t come up with anything. I try not to prep on the weekend – if I can I chop or mix marinades or assemble casseroles on Monday while the instant pot is going, but I will do some quick prep on the weekends if Monday/Tuesday will be crazy since I am sometimes starting the crockpot at 6am and don’t want to do anything but dump and go then.

    1. @Sara B – sounds like a good plan! And definitely you should not be on the hook for planning dinner for other adults when you are not in the house 🙂 Quick is good in general.

  4. I loved this episode! It was good to hear how you do the self-care things. I find it so hard to stick to a plan. I plan out my week, plan in all the self-care bits and pieces but for the life of me I cannot stick to it. It seems to get to the time when I need to do it and something always pops up. Is this a time management issue or a priority issue?
    Exercise is the hardest thing for me to be motivated to do. 10 years ago when my kids were little and I was working 4 days a week I was able to exercise most days. Now that kids are 12 & 15 I can’t seem to find the energy to do it. Morning I already wake at 4:45am and leave for work by 6am. Nights are filled with running around after kid activities – hard to find the motivation. I guess the bad habits have snuck in and its hard to change. What do you ladies do about staying motivated to do the self-care things?

  5. Another idea for teachers or people who have to report to work early: I have to be at work at 7:30 but am done at 3/3:30, so I walk or swim after school and then shower for the day. So I’m still only showering once a day. And since I get off early enough, it doesn’t feel like evening time is cut into too badly because I’m usually finished by 5. I’ve tried working out before work and it’s just very difficult to make happen with being out the door by 7/7:10, even for a morning person like myself.

  6. To talk to the vacation with small kids portion, I have twins and when they were very little (under 2), a friend told me, “just remember… same circus, different tent”. Which is a lovely way to reset expectations 🙂

    I just saw Jessica Honneger’s instagram post (founder of Noonday)
    She talks about the difference between family travel vs vacation, which is another fabulous way to manage our expectations!

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