Being a parent to a toddler is exhausting. This isn’t news. Nor is it news that working while being a parent to a toddler is the previously mentioned level of exhausting multiplied by a factor of lots. That’s how good it makes you at words.
My work hours are time-boxed into nap times (sadly only the one per day now), daycare days, and evenings after she goes to bed. Needless to say, work/life balance is a distant, lofty, dream. In this time, I not only have to work, but I also have to fit in housework, any calls that need to be made during business hours and whatever else needs doing.
I have my coffee in the morning to give me a kick-start. But when I need a booster mid-afternoon or when I’m doing my work stretch in the evenings, I want something a little less heavy-hitting that will still give me some clarity and focus.
I’ve heard people talking up nootropics and adaptogens for a while now. Tim Ferriss regularly promotes Four Sigmatic’s mushroom coffee, and Art of Manliness even wrote a primer on nootropics. It’s all very interesting, but there’s not much in the way of evidence-based research behind a lot of the products. At my most exhausted and taxed, I looked into these because I needed a bandaid for the symptoms of stretching myself pretty thin. Absolutely the wrong way of approaching this problem, I know, but some days make you feel pretty desperate as a work at home, stay at home mum. And even almost two years after giving birth, I don’t feel I’ve entirely lost the baby brain, which can be pretty demoralising, and frustrating when you need to be on top of your game.
Eventually, I concluded that there wasn’t enough information for me to make an informed choice about some of the popular products. Also, that there isn’t enough information about the safety of using these while pregnant or breastfeeding. I am in neither category at the moment, but if we have another child, I didn’t want to start using these to help me function, and then have to stop taking them as a precaution.
But while I was looking into how people used adaptogens and nootropics, I kept coming across variants on drinks made with matcha (Japanese green tea) and maca (Peruvian root in the brassica family) touting benefits to energy and clarity, which pretty much fits the bill for what I need.
I strongly recommend you do your own research on these ingredients, but I’ve summarised my findings and added links to ‘easy to digest’ (no pun intended) pages with more information. Although I’ve only provided the one link below, I’ve read other sources, and suggest you do the same before giving this recipe a shot.
A Peruvian root vegetable in the brassica family (broccoli, cabbage…) with some claims to being able to increase energy and stamina, as well as learning and memory. Also has links to benefits to sexual health and reducing hair loss. It’s nutritious, and a common vegetable in the Peruvian diet which suggests to me that it’s safe to consume in a general way.
There are some suggestions that those with thyroid issues should make appropriate enquiries with their health providers before taking maca.
The benefits of green tea have been talked about for years. It’s a stimulant that contains less caffeine than coffee, contains antioxidants which are beneficial for a variety of reasons, and can boost your metabolism and mental acuity.
It’s a common beverage, I mean, it is tea, so again, this suggests it’s safe to consume in a general way. Due to the caffeine, if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, keep it below your recommended daily allowance.
Bonus Ingredient: Hydrolysed Collagen
In my internet wanderings, I noticed Hydrolysed Collagen coming up a bit too. It’s a common protein in your body and serves a number of functions including providing skin structure and bone strength. The consumption of collagen has links to improved hair, skin and nails, reduced joint pain, and brain and heart health.
I already take glucosamine supplements for my hereditary bad knees, and my hair, skin, and nails have not been great since I got pregnant, so aside from meeting the energy and brain function/clarity criteria, improvements in these other areas are more than welcome as well. I’m also aware that ingesting these things doesn’t translate to your body necessarily integrating them in a useful form, but I’ll take what I can get.
As with most ingredients used for healthful reasons, due to lack of research, there’s also a disclaimer on most sources (including this one) that you should talk with your doctor if you’re breastfeeding or pregnant before introducing them to your diet.
Personally, given I drink a lot of tea and take supplements for my joints, this isn’t really a stretch for me. And the only ‘new’ thing I’m adding is the maca. So based on what I’ve read, I’ve concluded these are pretty safe for me to take in moderation. You’ll have to do your own readings and make that decision for yourself.
All the science and caveats aside, this is a pretty delicious beverage. It may be psychosomatic, but I do feel the benefits to focus and energy levels. Nothing I would consider groundbreaking, but without much change in the other areas of my life, it’s still what I would consider noticeable improvement. I’ve only been taking it a few times a week for a few weeks, but I would assume that I would need to be taking this regularly for a few months before I notice improvements in the other areas.
However, even without these other benefits, the process of taking the time to make this drink, and sitting for a few minutes for the first few sips is a pleasant and helpful shift in focus before I knuckle back down to work.
 Tried making calls when a toddler is awake and you’re the only source of human entertainment available?
 Eat, shower, exercise? Sometimes this gets squeezed in.