On Monday I started to think about how our bodies are connected to our mothering. Today I want you to think about how creating an exercise habit can enhance your life– for your children and for yourself!
Here’s the key, regardless of which stage of motherhood you’re in: be gentle with yourself while learning to incorporate fitness into your lifestyle. There are days where kids are sick, we’re running around juggling priorities, it’s raining outside, and the couch is beckoning. That’s reality! If you skip a day of planned exercise, beating yourself up about it isn’t productive. Take a deep breath, remind yourself that your health is valuable, review your plan, and get back to it tomorrow.
New Mothers: While you may think of naptime as the ideal time to fit in a workout, I subscribe to the adage of “sleep when the baby sleeps.” Getting quality sleep is a key component to your overall fitness and wellness. Let’s look for times during the day you can sneak in some short bursts of exercise: depending on the age of your baby, this could be during tummy time, while Baby is engaged with toys, or while she is safely in her highchair eating. While you may feel guilty for taking this time for yourself, remember that you are modeling a healthy behavior for your child. And it can be fun! It can be as simple as turning on some music and dancing with your little one. Putting baby in a stroller and going for a walk is good for both of you as well. Find a new moms yoga class if you’d like a social component (and accountability) to your exercise.
Mid-life Mothers: While you may no longer be in the trenches of parenting, you probably still find yourself attending to your children’s needs before your own. The time you may want to spend exercising is the same time you are driving to piano lessons or waiting for soccer practice to finish. The key for you is to figure out how to use these kid-focused activities for your benefit. Rather than sitting around waiting for your child, go for a walk around the ball field or climb stairs in the building where your child is rehearsing. Do your kids like to go to the playground? Turn the equipment into a gym. You can also get your kids involved in your workout—organize some relay races, create an obstacle course, or challenge each other to act out as many verbs as you can think of. The kids will love this interactive play, and your model of healthy activity will surely be noticed.
Mature Mothers: Now is the time you can try something new! Group classes…. Developing new neuromuscular patterns has benefits far beyond whatever fitness benefits you may receive. Learning something new will work your brain, your sense of balance, and your muscles all at the same time. You can also use your workout time as a way to reconnect with your child—even if she lives far away, you can set up a weekly walk-and-talk date where you go on a walk together and chat on the phone while you’re both getting some exercise. Think about what you liked to do when you were younger—dance, swimming, riding your bike—and try one of those activities. You just may discover that you still enjoy it!
Here’s wishing all of you moms a very happy Mother’s Day on Sunday. Good health and great happiness to you!