Becoming a parent is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have in life, but also one of the most challenging in so many ways. One of the biggest obstacles for me as a new mom with tiny people running around was giving myself time for me, including exercising.You are needed so much. One kid needs help to the potty, the other needs a diaper change. One kid wants another snack (didn't I just give you one?), and the other needs to be nursed. You know what I mean. You never really get a chance to finish much of anything you start without doing 37 other things in the middle. :) Two kids later, I am just starting to figure things out a little bit. I thought I'd share the tips that I've learned along the way to making exercise actually happen in my life with a 2 1/2 year old and a 7 month old.
- Pray. This is pretty simple but probably easily forgotten. I don't really think about praying about something as seemingly trivial as exercising, especially with all the other real issues on my mind. But, why not? We can easily pray for guidance, motivation, patience, energy, time, and injury free exercising.
- Communicate with your spouse. This is something that was really difficult for me after having my first child. I felt guilty for spending time away from my daughter and didn't tell my husband that I wanted to make the time to get out and exercise. It was probably a full year before I got back in shape. You know what both my husband and I realized after that? I am a much happier person when I am moving on a regular basis. I felt like a real person again, and those positive endorphins didn't hurt either. Now with our second child, both he and I understand that this needs to be a priority. We all have to sacrifice a little bit for it, but we all truly benefit in the end. (How does that go? If Momma isn't happy, ain't nobody happy.) Communicate what you need. Schedule your exercise time. Talk about your goals. Congratulate each other when they are reached. Motivate each other.
- Change your expectations and be realistic. When I was in college, I ran a lot. I was in cross country and likely logged five to eight miles per day. After college, I trained for a couple half marathons. I had been used to working out hard--dripping sweat and completely exhausted. After having my kids, I had a difficult time wrapping my brain around not having an hour (or two) to commit to exercising. In my mind, it wasn't worth it. I thought if I couldn't get a full hour of working out in, then I might as well not do it at all. That mind set is silly! Twenty minutes here, twenty minutes there still add up! Walking is still moving. I had to change my expectations-- doing (insert workout) is still better than doing no workout at all.
- Find a motivator or motivation. Kelly touches on this idea in her Ten Tips to Start Exercising. God deems exercising valuable! That can be enough motivation for us! Also, find someone(s) to motivate you--your spouse, a friend, and it hasn't hurt for me to see Solid Strength posting motivating pictures on Facebook daily.
- Be flexible. I am a creature of habit. I like to do things in a certain way and in a certain order. However, that's virtually impossible when you have babies, especially with exercising. So try to be flexible about it. In the past year I have changed my workout routine many, many times. Truthfully, it doesn't even feel routine most of the time. When I was pregnant, I liked to swim. So I tried to go in the morning before my husband went to work, or after dinner, or after my daughter was in bed, or on Saturday morning. Then my son was born and I continued going to the gym in winter. Then spring came, and I could move outdoors. Then summer. You get the idea. My workout times and activity change often. They have to in order for them to actually happen. Last week I showered and got ready, but then realized it was a swell day to run to the park, so I did that. Just this morning my husband asked if I wanted to go for a run with the kids since he was able to go to work later than usual. Be spontaneous. Be flexible, or exercise won't happen. Yes, your workout will get interrupted by more than one child crying more than one time! But every little bit counts!
- Invest in what you will use and do what you want to do. After having my daughter, I held onto my gym membership for a good six months before I finally shamefully called and canceled it (I was too embarrassed even though I was paying $50 a month!). I wasn't using it and wasn't going to miraculously start using it either. Don't buy a gym membership if you don't like going to the gym. Invest in what you will use. That might be a gym membership or it could be a nice set of weights. It could be a city recreation class or it could be a double-jogger. My point is don't live someone else's exercise life, live yours. Most of us don't have the luxury of having a baby-sitter around to exercise, so find things to do with them or next to them. There are many workouts that can be done in the convenience of your home. Kelly has given us a few of her own for free here, here, and here (and I think she's planning a new one for us soon!). I personally have been using Moms Into Fitness and have been really happy. Also, don't forget all the hidden exercise opportunities! Children are so active and love to run around-- race them down the hall, toss the baby in the air, play hide and seek, go to the park, or wander around the zoo. And we can't forget about housework! Wash your floors, mow the lawn, vacuum, or wash windows. Many chores can be done while watching your children play. And if we are honest with ourselves, our house needs the attention anyway.
- Eat and drink. This is so important, especially if you are either pregnant or breastfeeding, you need those calories to feed both of you and keep you energized. Try to focus less on weight and more on remaining healthy and hydrated. Your body is supporting another life! That is an amazing miracle and also a responsibility. Be healthy.
What tips do you have to share to help make working out happen in your home? Please share!