Dr. Darria Long Gillespie, a board-certified ER physician, is dedicated to improving women’s lives and health. You may have seen her speaking out on health topics on The Dr. Oz Show or on CNN’s HNL. Her recently released book, Mom Hacks, harnesses science-based tips to make life easier for busy moms. Dr. Darria generously shares some of her top self-care hacks for moms, and the genius technique she uses to get her own kids to eat vegetables.
Congratulations on the release of your book, Mom Hacks! What’s one mom hack that everyone mom should know about?
I’m going to cheat and give you a couple. For each of these, we go way more in-depth in the book (don’t worry – it’s mostly in bullets so busy moms can still skim), so check it out there!
- Temptation Bundle to build your motivation to exercise. In a Wharton study, participants who were allowed to listen to an addictive audio book ONLY when they exercised put in 51% more gym time than those who could listen whenever they wanted. Find your own “temptation” (ie: audiobook/Serial podcast/Game of Thrones/People magazine) and only allow yourself to watch/read/ listen when you’re exercising, and you’ll start looking forward to your workouts.
- Leverage light to reset your Circadian Rhythm. Many of us have trouble getting up in the morning, feel exhausted throughout the day – but still have trouble falling asleep at night (I know. So not fair). If you feel “wired and tired,” it could be that your Circadian Rhythm is out of sync. The first step to a reset is to get bright light the moment you wake up – think of it as syncing your body clock for the day. Look outside if it’s bright, at bright bathroom lights, or even the bright light of your phone to shut down melatonin production, wake you, and even reset your body clock so that it will be easier to fall asleep that night.
- Change your happiness set point with gratitude. We used to think that how happy we are is based on genetics and upbringing – and that you can’t really change it. But latest research shows that’s not the case. In fact, research shows that taking 30 seconds every night to write down three new things for which you are grateful that day not only increases your happiness – it can even make you more optimistic. Try this for threee weeks, and you’ll notice a difference!
What’s one women’s health issue that you feel isn’t getting enough attention?
It’s time for a reset on how we view the health of moms and their children – because both of them are getting worse, and society seems to just accept that as okay – or worse – to just blame moms for it. That’s not okay with me, which is why I wrote this book – as a doctor, a patient, and a mom.
When I was pregnant, I heard messages like, “You’ll never work out again/sleep/eat anything but chicken finger leftovers after you become a mom.” Then I read the statistics, which were even more disheartening: For every child she has, a mom’s risk of obesity rises by 7%. Simply by being a mom, we’re statistically more likely to eat poorly, sleep less, and get less exercise. Ack! That’s depressing.
It’s time to change these statistics by changing the rhetoric around motherhood, as well as the resources available to all moms.
If you could hand off one chore to someone else each day, what would it be?
Putting away toys and kiddos STUFF. Honestly. Every time I see a pile of toys/stuff, I’m tempted to sweep them all into a donation bin and make all of our lives a little bit simpler. And then I put them away, and – hand-to-my-heart – another pile just appears that I hadn’t noticed earlier. It’s enough to make a grown woman cry. Which I may have done.
What is your favorite thing to do to relax and unwind?
I started playing classical piano when I was five – and hated practicing until I was 15, at which point I started to love it. But I pretty much stopped practicing after my first child was born – the only time I had to practice would be when they were napping, at which point playing a loud piano is not recommended. In the past few months, my husband will go give the kiddos a bath, and I have 15 minutes to sit down and play. I look forward to those 15 minutes all day.
What is the best white lie that you’ve told your child?
“Dinner isn’t ready yet, but you can snack on these vegetables while you wait,” (said while I hand them raw veggies with dressing or hummus). Even if dinner is ready, I’ll tell my kids this, so they have about five minutes during which they are hungry and their only option is veggies.
If you could describe motherhood/fatherhood in one word, what would it be?
What’s one moment in your motherhood journey that has made you proud?
Most of the time as a mom, you have a little voice in the back of your head asking, “Am I really screwing this up?” I mean, you really won’t know how you did as a parent until about 20-30 years later, right? But then my daughter will tell me, “Mommy, you’re really the best mommy that exists,” or my two-year-old son will walk up and give me a hug for no reason, and you realize that you’re actually doing a great job.
The truth? Our children remind us every day that we don’t have to be “perfect” to be amazing moms – we just have to shut down our inner monologues long enough to listen to them.
What is one piece of advice you want to pass along to your children?
Be kind and try to see situations through another’s eyes. And that when there’s something they believe in, to never, never, never give up.
What is one piece of advice you would pass along to other moms?
You’re doing an amazing job.
How do you tackle the work/life balance?
I’m not very good at mentally compartmentalizing – I find myself doing something with my kiddos and thinking about work – which is a little bit of a blurry line when your work consists of helping mamas. So, I try to create a physical barrier – when I’m done with work for the day, I put down my phone in a single spot, and I don’t check email or social media until my kids go to bed. Somehow, even though I’m largely offline for a couple of hours, the world keeps turning – and I can actually focus on my babies.
What was the last book you read?
The Invention of Wings.
Favorite Beauty Product:
Dior Show mascara + primer
Favorite Form of Exercise:
Running. It saves my sanity.
What is on your DVR?
America’s Got Talent, NCIS,
Runkeeper and Spotify are my life-savers! (and for everyone who pre-orders or orders Mom Hacks, we’ve created five of the most amazing Mom Hacks playlists on Spotify to get you through your day – everything from pumping you up to exercising to relaxing to driving in the car with the kids).
Favorite Kids Store:
I love Little Shop of Stories, a bookstore in Decatur, GA — it’s so cute and they have a great selection! For an all-out, totally unique bookstore experience, I love Wild Rumpus in Minneapolis, MN – they literally have animals loose in the store (a fat cat, a crazy-looking but sweet rooster, and other menagerie).