We must teach our kids a foundation for healthy eating habits. Unfourtuanelty, this can be challenging for busy nurse moms, who often struggle to eat properly, exercise regularly, or get enough sleep as it is due to our crazy working-mom lifestyles.
So, how do we help our families adopt healthier eating choices when it seems like life is always getting in the way? Here are a few fun suggestions that have worked for my own family. I hope they help you too!
Involve children in the meal planning process
Teach your kids healthy eating habits by involving them in the meal-planing process.
Kids love to feel like they are a part of things, and they are more likely to want to eat healthy foods if they are included in the food preparation experience. Grant your children some say in which foods you bring into the house.
For example, if I plan to purchase grapes at the store, I will ask my son which color he wants. When we go to the grocery store together, I let him help me select the produce items that he thinks are the most appealing. Search recipes together for inspiration, so you all can be excited about the meals you will have that week.
I personally love Pinterest and use it as my primary means of saving and organizing recipes. Each child can be allowed to make one or two “special requests” for either a specific food they would like to have or a particular meal they want to eat.
Sometimes it is not realistic to prepare a family meal every single night. Here is a solution for that: make double batches when you cook to ensure that you have extra nutritious food that can easily be reheated as leftovers later in the week. When I worked 12-hour day shifts, I would often make a tray of lasagna, enchiladas, or casserole on my days off. That way, my husband could easily prepare healthy dinners for the family in my absence.
By preparing meals ahead of time, we eliminated the temptation to pick up fast food on the way home when we were exhausted and starving.
Encourage children to help out in the kitchen
Teaching kids healthy eating habits by involving them in the kitchen.
Even young children can make handy kitchen porters. They can help mix, measure, and stir years before they are old enough to be trusted near a hot stove or sharp instruments.
My son picked out a set of miniature set of kitchen tools (a small spatula, whisk, and tongs) for himself, and it makes him feel extra special when he assists me in the kitchen. You may have to do a little extra clean up at the end, but be patient and praise your culinary apprentices for helping! Fond memories and a love of cooking will be ingrained for life.
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Forget the “clean plate club”
Teach kids healthy eating habits – don’t encourage them to clean their plates if they are full.
Children are very good at self-regulating their food intake. Telling kids they must finish their food, even if they insist that they are not hungry, can cause them to tune out their innate cues of fullness and may set them up to become chronic overeaters later in life.
Lead by example
Kids are always observing, and you need to practice what you preach. The nutrition standards you set for them as a parent will go further than anything you say. However, don’t always expect perfection of yourself. Parenting is hard, and some days just getting the kids fed is an accomplishment.
Holiday get-togethers, family dinners, and parties with cake and candy are perfectly fine in moderation. The point is that if you eat a variety of wholesome foods each day, your children will develop an appreciation for fresh, healthy eating as well.
Additional Information to help teach children healthy eating habits
The American Academy at Pediatrics has an archive of articles with evidence-based advice on healthy eating for children that you can find here. Consult with your children’s pediatrician or primary care provider if you have questions regarding your children’s specific dietary needs.
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Nurse moms are pretty incredible humans.
Being a nurse or a mom is hard work in and of itself. Add the two together and you have one incredibly hard-working, compassionate, multitasking superhero with skills that can save lives.
This holiday season why not give gifts that recognize both talents? The one that is raising children to be strong, capable adults and the one selflessly helping total strangers. After all, there is a fair chance that many nurse moms are not being appreciated or recognized for the dedication and hard work they put in, day after day.
The motherhood/nurse combination is a challenging balance. Next time you run into a nurse mom who looks a little tired, know there is a good chance she hasn’t slept in a week. And give her a high-five.
We hope you enjoy your holiday season and spend lots of quality time with your loved ones!
*This post about gifts for nurse moms contains affiliate links. You can find our disclosure page here.
The Ultimate List Of Fun Holiday Nurse Mom Gifts
2. Keep Calm My Mom Is A Nurse Onesie
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Being a nurse helped prepare me for motherhood.
Nothing can prepare any parent for the insanity of parenthood, because it’s impossible to understand its complexity until you’re there. However, after working as a nurse for so many years before having my children, I do think it gave me a tiny edge.
As an emergency room nurse, I work in a lot of unusual and often stressful situations involving the health and wellbeing of my patients. Admittedly, I’m exhausted on my days off, and sometimes I feel guilty for working such long hours.
But even though I often feel overwhelmed with my crazy life as a working mom, I am so grateful for how my experience as a registered nurse has helped prepare me for motherhood.
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Toddlers can act just like miniature psych patients.
In the ER, I deal with every single type of mental and psychiatric disorder ever documented in the literature. We work with everything from homicidal schizophrenia to depression or anxiety and everything in between.
Some of the most exciting conversations I have with my two-year-old remind me of similar situations and conversations that I have had working as a healthcare professional.
For example, I have watched my toddler throw herself on the floor in a fit of tears because I didn’t peel the banana “the right way” (believe it or not, I have had similar conversations with patients). I guess you could say that I have had a lot of experience with having irrational discussions over the years.
As a result of my experience working in an ER with an acute psych ward, I have almost no reaction when my toddler melts down or breaks into a fit of rage out of nowhere. I have had too much experience dealing with angry, irrational patients. Having composure and speaking with respect is always the winning choice and warrants the best response in both scenarios. (When a nurse gets mad back at a patient, the patients yells louder. It’s the same with toddlers).
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I stopped worrying about things that aren’t worth my worry.
As a nurse and mom, I am generally more concerned about the things that might seriously injure or kill my children. Sure, a broken arm would suck, and no mom wants to see their child in pain. But a broken bone won’t kill you. Like, for example, falling out a window in a home that hasn’t been childproofed could.
I want my home safe from the significant injuries, but I also don’t want to helicopter-parent them from ever injuring themselves.
(But I also have an irrational fear of swimming pools now too as a direct result of my experience as an ER nurse, so I suppose being a nurse and mom has also made me a bit paranoid as well).
The way I see it is that kids grow and learn so much through play. If they are playing right, they are going to get hurt once in a while. Minor injuries are a part of childhood, and having them can help kids grow and develop resilience to other things that happen to them out in the world.
Additional recommended reading: 9 Tips For Working As A Nurse While Pregnant
Being a nurse is a constant reminder of how lucky I am to have healthy children.
I have had the privilege of working with pediatrics as an emergency medicine nurse. As a result, I have watched a lot of parents deal with their children’s chronic illnesses, life-threatening injuries, and so many other medical-related issues that can keep kids in the hospital for weeks, months, or even years.
It makes it hard for me to complain about how busy my life is as a working mother. Because in reality, when you have healthy children, you have everything that you need.
As a working mom and nurse, I see a lot of the bad things that can happen, and it makes me more grateful for the things I have. It is all a challenging balance. But it is also an honor and a privilege – and it has prepared me for motherhood in a way that nothing else really could.
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*This post may contain affiliate links. You can find our disclosure page here.
Written by Adela Ellis, RN, BSN
Working the night shift is never easy. Add a kid or two into the mix and it becomes even that much more difficult.
Life can be challenging for working parents, even in the best of circumstances and working night shifts is no exception. Raising kids when you are sleep deprived is challenging at best, and it’s often challenging to find someone who can take care of your children while you’re on the clock.
There are perks, though. For example, nurses are usually paid more per hour when they work nights instead of days, and working nights means that you’ll have more time to spend with your family during the day. There is even some evidence that working the night shift can benefit the parent-child relationship.
Plus, the lines at the grocery store tend to be really short first thing in the morning when night shift workers are heading home.
If you are a parent and you are struggling with how to make working the night shift work, you’ve come to the right place. Keep scrolling to discover three tips for parents working the night shift.
Night Shift Nurse Tip #1: Prioritize Self-Care
Night shift nurse tip #1: prioritize self-care
As a parent, you probably put your kids’ needs ahead of your own pretty much all the time. But it’s important to remember that you need to take care of yourself too. Self-care is important for everyone, and it is even more important for nurses who work the night shift.
As humans, we are naturally programmed to be awake during the day and asleep at night. Working the night shift means fighting against one of your body’s most basic instincts, and it’s not easy.
To minimize the negative effects of working nights, you need to make self-care a priority. Make sure you get plenty of sleep each day, maintain a healthy diet, drink plenty of water, and pamper yourself once in a while.
Set boundaries with family members (including your children) to ensure that you are able to get the rest you need. Don’t feel guilty about saying “no” to afternoon playdates if you need to sleep. If you want to be the best version of yourself, both at home and at work, you need to make taking care of yourself a top priority.
Even choosing the right clothing to wear to work can be a part of your self-care. Invest in quality scrubs that you will feel great wearing. Keep in mind that you’re likely to get chilly during the night and make sure you have a few nice scrub jackets in your closet. Invest in high-quality nursing shoes that won’t leave you feeling fatigued just a few hours into your shift. When you feel your best in cute nurse scrubs and comfy footwear, it’s a lot easier to make it through your shift with a smile on your face.
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Night Shift Nurse Tip #2: Find an Amazing Babysitter
Tip #2 for working the night shift with a family: find an amazing babysitter
If you and your partner work opposite shifts, having someone to watch the kids while you are at work might not be a problem. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that you won’t need someone to watch them during the day too. You may get home first thing in the morning and not need to return to work until later that night, but you need that time to get some rest.
Plenty of parents think that they can work at night and take naps throughout the day when the kids are asleep, but that very rarely works out. You might not need a sitter if your kids are in school during the day, but, if you have little ones at home, a good sitter is a must.
Find someone that you can depend on to watch your kids on a consistent schedule. You need between seven and nine hours of sleep each day (roughly), so make sure you choose a sitter who is available for enough hours each day to enable you to get some much-needed sleep. Consider sending your kids to daycare or choosing a sitter who can watch them in their home. This will help minimize the noise in your home and allow you to rest without worrying about why your little one is crying or being woken up by random noises throughout the day.
Night Shift Nurse Tip #3: Learn to Embrace the Night Shift
Working night shift with a family tip #3: embrace the night shift
For most parents, one of the hardest parts of working the night shift is knowing that you’ll have to miss out on things like family get-togethers and school events. A big part of your kids’ lives will happen when you are asleep, and that can be a really tough thing to accept. If you want to successfully navigate working the night shift as a parent, though, you are going to have to learn how to embrace it.
Instead of thinking about the negatives, consider the positives. You’ll make more money and be able to pay off debt faster or surprise your kids with special treats. You’ll get to provide better care for your patients and build stronger relationships with your coworkers.
In addition, you won’t have to deal with things like grocery shopping during the hours when most of the world is awake. Your nonstandard schedule may even enable you to spend more time with your kids.
The Bottom Line For Parents Working The Night Shift
As a parent, you want what’s best for your kids. Often, that means doing things that you don’t really want to do––like working the night shift––in order to provide a better life for them. Working nights isn’t always easy, but there are things that you can do to face the challenges head-on and be a great employee and parent. Use the tips listed above to make life as a night-shift working parent happier and healthier for you.
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About the author: Adela Ellis is a full-time nurse and part-time ambassador for Infinity Scrubs. Adela attended the University of Arizona and has been a travel nurse for the last 6 years. She enjoys working with different doctors, nurses, and patients from all over the country and blogging about her experiences. In her free time, she loves true-crime podcasts and cooking for friends and family.
Preparing for 12-hour shifts as a registered nurse requires some prearranged groundwork and organization at home to ensure my day starts off on the right foot. As a working mom, I know I will be gone for a large chunk of time, so I do my best to make sure things are correctly set up at home the day before.
Additionally, as an ER nurse, I know how important it is that I take good care of myself so I can continue to give the best possible care to my family and patients. After all, I can’t expect others to listen to my health education if I don’t take my own advice and stay healthy too. No excuses!
(This post contains affiliate links. You can find my disclosure page here.)
My top 4 working mom health tips:
#1. Grocery shop and prepare all meals in advance
I grocery shop every three days, so I can prepare meals for my toddlers and for each of my 12-hour shifts at the hospital in advance. To avoid scrambling at the last minute, I always make sure everything is ready and packaged to go the night before.
I prepare several options for the kid’s breakfasts, lunch, and dinner, including:
- Avocado or almond toast
- Bananas, apples, kiwis, various berries
- Black bean or chickpea pasta
- Cheese squares
- Veggies straws with hummus
- Veggie/fruit smoothies
- Sautéed veggies
Also, one day per week, I make a big batch of quinoa or brown rice and keep it handy in the fridge for quick meal preparation. When I need it, I add veggies, nuts, seeds, dried cranberries, olive oil, tempeh, or whatever else I have in the fridge at that moment. This is so convenient because I can whip something up quickly for my work lunches, and I also have it on days I’m home with the kids.
The Nutribullet is by far my favorite meal prep tool.
To say I use it at least twice a day would be an understatement! This is my #1 working mom health tip. I make everything from veggie smoothies, to salad dressings, to soups and blended coffee drinks. It makes my life so much easier, especially now that we have kids and time is limited.
The nutribullet is my favorite food making tool.
I have a vegetable and berry smoothie with one tablespoon of Maca powder, flaxseed or hemp seeds for protein, and acai powder. I alternate my veggies between broccoli, spinach, or kale. For the berry part: strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries, although sometimes I’ll add half a banana or mango.
I also make several mason jars (16oz) of overnight oats on Sundays with a variety of flavors:
- peanut butter and maple
- banana and walnut
- almond and raisin
Then I’ll either add ground flax seeds or chia seeds for extra protein and antioxidant benefit. And I’ll top with a dash of cinnamon. These make such an easy breakfast to go!
Mason jars make preparing breakfasts much easier.
#2. Sleep as much as possible before a 12-hour shift
12-hour shifts usually end up being closer to 14+ at the end of the day. And, many studies show that working 12-hour shifts is damaging to nurse health due to the length of time that nurses end up working. An increased risk of depression, anxiety, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and even some cancers have all been researched and publicized.
Since the shifts are not getting shorter anytime soon, the best thing that nurses can do to take care of themselves is rest as much as possible before shifts. Therefore, I make it a huge priority to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep before shifts. (This was so much easier before we had kids!)
A few things I use to help me sleep better at night:
- Eye mask and earplugs. After having kids, I realized that I am an incredibly light sleeper. Even the slightest noises wake me up in the middle of the night. Sometimes I have difficulty falling back asleep again, which is so frustrating when I work a 12-hour shift in the morning.
- Restorative yoga poses. I keep a yoga pillow and a yoga mat right next to the bed that I use for restorative yoga poses about 20 minutes before I try to go to sleep. It helps me decompress me from my day, check-in with myself, and put me into a snugly and sleepy mood.
A yoga pillow is great for restorative yoga poses!
I keep a yoga mat next to my bed for early morning and night yoga stretches.
#3 Get regular exercise on the off days
I always feel so much better when I get my heart rate up on my days off. The benefits of exercise have been well documented; it is essential for nurse self-care. It is no secret that regular exercise helps control weight, boosts overall energy, improves your mood, and decreases stress levels. Not only does exercise benefit the nurse personally, but it also allows nurses to have the stamina to give better care to patients as well.
Need to blow off some steam after a stressful day? A yoga session or brisk 30-minute walk can help. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. Which, in turn, will help manage caregiver burden and help you feel your best.
For me, yoga has been a total game-changer for my stress levels. But it’s also great to change up the routine a bit, and I enjoy escaping with my headphones for a run and listening to music. Whatever you do is great, as long as you do it!
A blue tooth headset is great to use for a run or brisk walk.
Those who know me know I’m fanatical about compression socks. Wearing compression stockings helped me work all the way through two pregnancies, and I continue to wear them to this day. They help keep your legs energized, prevent varicose veins, and keep your ankles and feet from getting so swollen after being on your feet all day. Plus, they come in the cutest styles now.
Compression socks will save your legs and feet!
Being a nurse and mom is already hard enough.
But with a little preparation and focus on your well-being and time management, you can be both a healthy nurse and mom and give great care to your patients. It’s time to focus on nurse self-care!
We hope this list of working mom health tips for 12-hour shifts helps to make your life a little easier. Please leave a comment if you have anything you would like to add!
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(This post about saving money for maternity leave as a nurse may contain affiliate links. You can find my disclosure page here.)
As a new mother, it is your legal right to take maternity leave.
Maternity leave is so essential for a new mother for many reasons:
Unfortunately, many women in the US only get six weeks of maternity leave (8 weeks if you have a c-section). And if you are a per diem employee like me, none of that time off is paid. For that reason, I worked right up until my 9th month of pregnancy while working as an emergency room nurse at a level 1 trauma center (thank God for pregnancy compression stockings!).
Nurses work extremely hard to care for patients like they would care for a family member, yet when they have a baby of their own, they often have very little time to bond with their flesh and blood. Add the financial strain into the mix and it can become very stressful and overwhelming. So what is a nurse who is also a brand new mom to do?
Well, I have half-glass full mentality. So for the sake of finding solutions to this conundrum that so many women find themselves in, I compiled a list of ways for mothers to plan financially far in advance of baby’s arrival. You must take care of yourself first!
The average paid maternity leave in the USA is only six weeks for a vaginal birth and eight weeks for a c-section. And if you are a per diem RN then chances are that you will not be paid at all while you are on maternity leave.
Saving for maternity leave is crucial for moms so they can spend more time baby bonding and less time worrying about money!
Unpaid maternity leave for nurses: you need to save up in advance!
After my daughter was born in 2015, I went back to work as a per diem nurse (higher hourly rate and more flexibility, but no benefits – including disability or paid maternity leave). Therefore, eighteen months later when I went on maternity leave with my second baby, I had a completely unpaid maternity leave. It made the whole situation much more stressful for me. Thankfully I planned well in advance to minimize the financial burden.
Here is how I managed to save up an additional 20K for my second maternity leave:
#1. Open a new savings account dedicated to maternity leave.
One of the easiest ways to save money is to pay yourself first. When you set up direct deposit for each paycheck, you make saving much easier. That way, you don’t even see the money hitting your checking account. Liquid cash is good, so you can use it when you need it.
Suzie Orman (one of my all-time favorite financial gurus) says that you want to have as much money saved up for as many months as you plan to take off, as well as an eight-month emergency plan. You never know when an emergency can strike, for example, a medical emergency, a job loss, or worse. The faster you can start saving into an account dedicated to maternity leave, the more prepared you will be when it comes.
#2. Make a budget and stick to it.
I prefer more of a no-budget budget strategy. I decide how much I want to save each paycheck and immediately transfer it into an online savings account as soon as payday comes.
I am aware of everything I purchase and review it each month by using a program called Mint to track my expenses. If you aren’t using this, you should be. Since I have started using Mint I have watched my savings rate take off farther than ever. It is incredible how much you can save when you know exactly where your money is going!
I’m always surprised by how many people I talk to who have no idea what they spend in a month. Needless to say, this is a poor strategy for preparing for an unpaid maternity leave. You’ve got to have a plan.
#3. Make more money now or take on extra work.
If you are currently pregnant or even just thinking about it, now is a good time to take on extra hours at work. Especially if you can get overtime pay.
As a nurse, anything over 40 hours of work a week is considered overtime at my hospital. I don’t work overtime anymore now that I have small children, but I did it during my pregnancies just to add a little more to my savings.
Also, some holidays pay time-and-a-half rates. Therefore, I have been known to pick up shifts on Memorial Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, or even Christmas. It’s not my favorite thing to do, but my family handles it by celebrating these holidays on the day before or the day after the actual holiday. When children are young, they don’t know what day it is anyway, so this strategy has worked particularly well. It adds up quite a bit when you are saving to be out for a few months.
Nurse maternity leave: how to save up in advance
#4. Cut all recurring expenses that you aren’t using or don’t need.
Look at your monthly expenses and see if there is anywhere that you can reasonably cut. Are you using the 100$ a month gym membership? Or does it make more sense to take daily walks and do online yoga classes at home?
My husband and I talk about money often and try to be responsible about our spending. Saving money is all about establishing priorities and having set goals. This has kept us in good financial health and kept us on the same page with our spending habits.
#5. Look at the easy ways to cut back.
Families dropping from a dual income to a single income usually need to trim expenses somewhere. Make a list of everything you are spending money on, and be honest with yourself about what is an actual need. Here are a few ideas to throw on the table:
- Nix the coffee cart habit = save $4 a day
- Pack your lunches = save $12 a day
- Cancel the cable you are barely using anyway = save $80 a month
- Cook your meals at home instead of ordering take out = potentially $100’s in savings per month (if you eat out a lot)
- Go on a 3-6 month spending freeze on things that are not an actual “need” = $$$
Do you see my point here? There is A LOT of money to be saved if you just pay more attention to what you are spending money on.
I do consider myself somewhat of an expert on “trimming the fat” on my own spending habits since paying off a large amount of student loan debt in a short amount of time. Saving money for maternity leave as a nurse was a very similar experience.
#6. Don’t fall for the baby registry trap.
There are so many items that I was told I had to have for baby #1. Many of them are “nice to have items” that I barely even used (I’m looking at you grocery cart baby cover I only used three times!). Many of these supposed “must-have items” from my baby registry are currently being stored away in my garage and will, at best, find a new home in our local Goodwill.
I remember looking through Pinterest at lists of “must-haves” for the new mom. They are long and mostly unnecessary. Stay away from those lists!
For example, I was told that I “needed” the newborn insert for our stroller. But for the first few months I was using her car seat in her stroller. By the time I went to use the insert, she has already grown out of it. Same went for the ergo baby newborn insert- I didn’t even need it until she was too big to fit in it anyway.
If you need something, then go ahead and get it. These are just my thoughts as a second-time mom with a lot of baby registry regret. Except for a double stroller and a crib, I can’t think of any other BIG items I will need for our new baby.
#7. Consider the extra expenses that come with a new baby.
There will be some extra expenses after the baby is born. Some of the big ones for us are diapers, wipes, food, and additional childcare. None of these things are cheap, so it’s good to be prepared for the expenses in advance.
You could always decide to go the cloth diaper route. I know people who have done this and it does save quite a bit of money. That, however, was not in our savings plan. Some things of convenience are worth the money, and that was one for us.
Other significant expenses include childcare enrichment classes (MyGym, recreation classes, music classes, etc.) if that is something you are interested in.
Childcare is our single biggest expense besides housing. In fact, if I didn’t have a higher hourly rate that I get from being a per diem nurse, it might not even make financial sense for me to work as an RN. We have a nanny that comes every Monday and Wednesday, so those are the days that I work at the hospital (plus one day on the weekend when my husband is home to watch the kids). If you have family that can help on days you work, that would be a huge financial saving.
I have read that the average baby costs their parents $300,000 from the time they are born until the time they turn 18. And that doesn’t even include a college education! I don’t know about you, but that makes me think about how we budget our money. (We have college funds set up for both of our kids, which started the day they were born, but we are still going to encourage them to achieve scholarships!)
#8. Think about the big picture.
Having a baby is one of the most amazing human experiences I have ever had. I love being a Mom. However, it can also be stressful at times, even with the most thoughtful preparation.
At the end of the day you can only do the best you can. Saving for unpaid maternity leave is just one of the things I did to try and ease the financial loss that comes with having a baby. It is wise to try and eliminate as much stress as you can so you can joyfully relish in the awesomeness that comes with having a new baby.
Now, if only I could invent a healthy way to live on increments of 2 hours of sleep or less, I would be golden! Best wishes to you and your growing family.
Are there any other tips on saving money for maternity leave as a nurse you would add to this list? Leave a comment!
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