In honor of Father’s Day, the New York Times reports that fathers are now just as stressed out as their wives over balancing work and family. As we struggle to deliver 200% at work each day and come home and offer the same to our children and spouses, it can be easy to let the choices we talk about for cancer prevention — cutting down on processed food, eating vegetables (i.e. doing battle at the dinner table to get everyone to eat their vegetables), being active — slip by.
The CNiC team doesn’t have all the answers, and we struggle like everyone else, but we’ve developed a few strategies that help us fit cancer prevention into each day.
1) Plan the week’s menu out ahead of time. Knowing what is “on tap” for dinner each night makes coming home and needing to get dinner on the table less stressful. It also means you can plan in the vegetables in a way that works for your family – whether it is mixing them into a yummy pasta dish or making sure to have little Jane’s favorite, peas, on hand.
2) Keep fruits and vegetables within arm’s reach. OK, this is a slight exaggeration, but making sure the counters, desks, and fridge are filled with fruits and vegetables makes them an easy and convenient choice to make for everyone.
3) Exercise in the morning before work, school, or family obligations. You’ll be sure to fit it in before the day gets too hectic, and you’ll only have to shower once – another time saver. To boost the chances you’ll actually heed the alarm clock, put your sneakers next to bed as a not-so-subtle reminder of your plans. We even know of some folks who sleep in their running clothes to remove even one more step. A bit wacky, yes, but you do what works for you.
4) Make exercise time family time. Head out with your young ones in a jogging stroller or have your older ones get on their bikes to keep pace! And don’t let the weather get in your way – crank up the stereo and dance around with your kids. You’ll be amazed at how much fun they have seeing mom and dad acting silly (well, at least until that age where everything mom and dad do is horribly embarrassing).
5) Stash spare workout shoes and clothes at work, school, in the car. You never know when you’ll have a spare 30 minutes to get a walk or run in, so it’s good to have your workout stuff close at hand. The meeting could let out early or be rescheduled later; kids could have an unplanned play date; or the stars could just align and create an unexpected opening in your day. So it’s good to be ready to go at any time.
6) Call on friends. When you’re home alone with three young kids and just can’t see how you’re going to get out for a quick walk or swim, ask a friend if they could look after your kids for a little bit. It’s not something you’ll want to do regularly, most likely, but it’s something a lot of friends would be happy to do, and if they have kids as well, they’ll feel free to call on you when they need to fit in a quick walk some day.
7) Say “no” at the supermarket. Advertising has a huge pull on our kids and if we’re honest on us as well. Sure, it’s not the most positive stance to take, but telling your kids “no” to their pleading for nutritionless and calorie-packed cereals, snacks, and treats is a quick, if not always easy, way to keep your family on the right nutrition track. It may cause a meltdown in aisle three, something no one ever wants, but it’s worth every bit of time and energy you put into it. Maintaining a healthy weight should be a family priority, especially for our kids who set their healthy habits early in life.