Balancing work and motherhood isn’t easy, especially those first few days when you have to go back to work after having a baby. Daphne Oz is one busy mama — she’s the host of The Chew and a New York Times bestselling author who has two kids plus one on the way. We loved learning about her biggest cooking secrets at our#CreateGood pop-up, and now Oz is dishing tips for navigating motherhood while working full-time.
1. Respond to emails at set times. Oz admits that after having her first child, Philomena Bijou, she struggled with feeling that every minute that she wasn’t with her daughter was a lost opportunity to bond with her. But after having her second child, Jovan Jovanovic, Jr., she realized that the hours in the day stay the same. Now she finds ways to be more efficient with her time. She says no to more things. She responds to emails three set times a day because she finds an overflowing inbox to be an endless drain. “My motto has become that happy kids have happy parents to show them how it’s done, so focus on what brings you joy and build your days around that,” says Oz.
2. Make easy, energy-sustaining meals. New parents don’t have a ton of a time to cook, but Oz has a few mommy-friendly meals up her sleeve that sustain energy throughout the day. She loves to make overnight oats. “Bring oats to a boil, turn off the heat, cover with a lid, and let soak overnight. I reheat them in the morning with some coconut milk and flaked almonds,” says Oz. She regularly eats yogurt topped with muesli or a drizzle of olive oil with herbs for a savory flavor. Whole grain toast spread with hummus, a fried egg and hot sauce, or avocado is an easy healthy snack. Simple soups and stews that you can make in a single pot or a slow cooker can be lifesavers, especially during the colder months. “A lot of these are things you (or a partner! Or a friend!) can make in bulk at the start of the week so you have something easy to reach for during those sleepless early days. The best trick I have for making healthy living easy is to crowd out bad options by keeping good ones on hand so they’re the obvious choice,” says Oz.
3. Ease holiday stress with family traditions. Managing the holidays with little ones can be hectic, but Oz suggests establishing annual traditions that the entire family can enjoy together. Some of the things Oz will be doing with her fam: baking a family recipe for Christmas butter cookies, decorating the tree, buying or making tree ornaments to add to their growing collection, and taking a big family photo for holiday cards. “What the kids seem to love most is knowing that they’re doing the same thing we used to do as kids! They love being brought into the fold,” says Oz.
4. Bond together with matching mom and me outfits. Most moms will admit that they wish there were adult versions of their kids’ cute clothes, and some kids wish they could dress just like mama. “Right now, our littles are at the age where they’re actually excited to wear clothes that match mine. Philomena always asks me to get her my dresses in her size, which is so cute,” says Oz. The TV host recently interviewed a few kids and their parents for kids clothing brand Janie & Jack about their holiday collection, which includes coordinating looks for women, girls, and boys. “We’ve been loving the Me & Mommy looks from Janie and Jack’s J&J collection this season. It’s so fun for the kids to get to pick their own looks and show off their individual style, and I just love how timeless and festive all the pieces are,” says Oz.
5. Enjoy the ride of motherhood. As a parent, the days are long, but the months are short. Before you know it, your precious baby no longer fits into snuggly onesies. “Your version of motherhood isn’t supposed to match anyone else’s,” says Oz. “Let your experience be what it is and let your kids be your guide. You will be exhausted and frazzled sometimes, but you will look back and wonder where all the time went and how they got so big so fast! Soak up all those little moments, even the insane ones.”
6. Prep healthy, fun snacks for you and your kiddos. Oz and her kids love to make homemade granola together. She finds they’re much more excited to try something if they help make it, plus she can minimize the amount of sugar in the granola. Her kids adore apple stackers — core an apple, slice the apple into rounds, spread with nut butter, and layer the slices like a sandwich. “Throw in raisins, a drizzle of honey, or a few chocolate chips to mix it up,” says Oz. Sliced cucumbers slathered with hummus and air-popped popcorn tossed with melted butter, a little salt, and nutritional yeast (a yellow yeast that’s a good source of protein and B vitamins that tastes like cheese) are other snack favorites in the Oz household.
7. Take time for self-care. It isn’t easy to juggle taking care of kids and taking care of yourself, but it’s important. “Taking half an hour to exercise, read an article, or sit with a friend for an uninterrupted cup of coffee, or just meditate on my own makes me feel happy. I recently read a quote that, ‘The world needs the totally alive version of you!’ I couldn’t agree more. I think mothers deserve this moment to replenish as much as anyone else. It makes us that much more capable to take care of everyone who relies on us if we’re taking care of ourselves first,” says Oz.
What are your top tips for maintaining a healthy work/life balance as a mom? Let us know @BritandCo!
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