Self-care is often last on a mom’s to-do list, but here’s a good reason to ditch the mom guilt and look after yourself …

It’s hard to find the time for self-care as a busy mom. Workouts are skipped, sleep is lost and healthy eating is long forgotten. It’s also all too easy to fall into the trap of using junk food and alcohol to relax and reward yourself.

The downside is that your health and wellbeing suffers.

Now research has found a reason for moms to prioritise self-care – it will help you raise healthier kids.

Over 16 000 moms and 24 000 children studied

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers examined data from 24 289 children enrolled in the Growing Up Today Study who were born to 16 945 women enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study II.

WIN a R 2,000 Woolworths Voucher

Subscribe to our Free Daily All4Women Newsletter to enter

They found that children whose mothers follow five healthy habits – eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, keeping a healthy body weight, drinking alcohol in moderation, and not smoking – are 75 percent less likely to become obese when compared with children of mothers who did not follow any such habits.

This is all the more reason to rewrite that to-do list and prioritise some healthy and much-needed self-care

Obese kids are in trouble

While it is known that genetics play a role in obesity, the rapid increase of the disease in recent years is likely due to changes in lifestyle and diet, indicating that “nurture” more than “nature” is fuelling the current obesity epidemic.

Sadly, obesity puts kids at risk of diabetes, heart disease, and other metabolic conditions later in life.

Related: Healthy lunch ideas for kids

Setting an example of self-care

The findings of the study make sense – once a good example of self-care is set, it’s easier to get kids to follow along. And the study reflected this.

The researchers found that when both mother and child adhered to these habits, the risk of obesity was 82% lower compared with mother and children who did not.

“Our study was the first to demonstrate that an overall healthy lifestyle really outweighs any individual healthy lifestyle factors followed by mothers when it comes to lowering the risk of obesity in their children,” says Qi Sun, associate professor in the Department of Nutrition and senior author of the study.

Related: How to get your toddler to eat more vegetables

We say this is all the more reason to rewrite that to-do list and prioritise some healthy and much-needed self-care.

It may mean asking your spouse to help more at home or arranging a regular babysitter, but making time your own health is something that will pay off – for both you and your kids.

Source: Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health via

Related: 4 Steps to take if you’re concerned about your child’s weight

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.