Most people have at least one guilty pleasure or partake in something they know isn't exactly great for them. Basically, it's totally normal to have a bad habit (or two). Once you become a parent, however, you leave most of your questionable life choices in the past. But, unlike biting your nails or chewing with your mouth open, there are actually quite a few common parenting habits you don't realize are killing you. I'm not talking about turning into a meth manufacturer to save your family from debt, a la Walter White. I'm talking about everyday habits that are harmful mentally and physically.
If you think back to the first few months after you became a parent, you can probably name a dozen unsafe things you did. You likely deprived yourself of sleep, missed out on meals, and tweaked your hygiene routine to care for your baby. And, if you find habits hard to break, you still might partake in these things even though your baby is in the kid stage. Unfortunately, in doing so you could unknowingly be setting yourself up for a real health and wellness disaster. So if you're curious as to whether or not your typical parenting habits are potentially killing you, read below to learn how to put yourself on a better, healthier path.
1. You Don't Sleep Enough
Regardless of whether or not you're past the infant stage or not, I know plenty of parents who pass up the opportunity to nap and clean or catch up on e-mails instead. But according to a study published by the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, sleeping less than six hours increases your risk of death from conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. So maybe you should set your DVR to record and grab some shut eye.
2. You Rely On Fast Food
Every parent has turned to fast food, and it's not the end of the world. But making it a daily habit could be problematic. According to Reader's Digest, "trans fat, often found in fast food, raises 'bad' cholesterol and blood fats that contribute to hardening of the arteries." You don't necessarily have to give up the drive-thru entirely, but it would be a good idea to cut back.
3. You Don't Eat Breakfast
Trying to get your family ready in the morning is already difficult. So it's understandable to skip breakfast in an effort to get out the door quicker. But, as Dalhousie University assistant professor Leah Cahill told Forbes, "fasting is a stressful state for the body." Since you're basically fasting all night while you sleep, your body needs energy to start the day right. As Cahill further explained, the habit of skipping breakfast is bad for your health because it extends the duration of that stress period. So whether you're sitting down for a bowl of oatmeal or grabbing a bar as you walk out the door, do yourself a favor and eat breakfast.
4. You Sit And Channel Surf For Too Long
Whether your child is at home with you or you have a few precious hours to yourself, choosing to spend that time parked on the sofa is a deadly parenting rut to fall into. According to Readers Digest, "those who watched more than two hours of TV a day ate more." It's not just the quantity of food you're likely to ingest, it's the quality, too. The article further noted that processed food and beverages with high salt and sugar content lead to serious health problems. Watching television isn't fatal in and of itself, but be mindful of how long you're chilling on the couch.
5. You Over-Sanitize
I'll be the first to admit I'm super guilty of this parenting habit. As soon as I see my child getting into a gross situation, I whip out the hand sanitizer and disinfectant cleansers to take care of the mess. As it turns out, frequently using anti-bacterial products makes you more sensitive to harmful germs, as dermatologist Dr. Richard Gallo noted on the official website for NBC News. When it comes to cleansers, a little goes a long way.
6. You Put Yourself Last
Like many parents, you probably prioritize your child's health over your own. Though that's an admirable quality in any caregiver, putting yourself at the bottom of the list could be killing you. Not only does this mean scheduling some alone time so you can relax, but also scheduling regular doctor's visits to make sure you're at the top of your health game.