One of my current pet peeves is reading a celebrity interview where a Hollywood mother of young children says her workout is “chasing the children.”
Come on. We all know it’s not.
You have help with the kids and a personal trainer and exercise at least three days a week, and you know it. Stop making other mamas feel like we should have six-pack abs and chiseled deltoids from cruising after toddlers. That said, I workout almost every day and I can vouch for the reality that it’s not easy. It is, however, a priority.
Here are eight realistic tips for any parent who wants to get into great shape, all while the little ones are around.
1. Don’t wait for help.
Sometimes it feels like my husband and I could spend an entire Saturday piggybacking workouts. Actually, we have.
I don’t live by my family or have a baby sitter to help out. These tips have been created out of pure necessity within my life. My most important advice to all moms out there who want to exercise and feel good about themselves? Don’t wait for help. We can do it.
If you can grow a baby inside of your body and can clean up more poop in one day than you thought was possible, you can find thirty minutes a day to exercise.
2. That said, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Typically, my daily exercise has been completed by the time my husband comes home from work. If I waited for him, I probably wouldn’t workout at all or not to the same capacity because — news flash — it truly is exhausting chasing children. Additionally, he wants to exercise too.
Regardless, there are days when my head is spinning and it takes every ounce of control not lose my temper. It's days like these that I give the kids to him while I work out. Everyone needs help sometimes, and it’s absolutely true that being a stay-at-home mom is an incredibly demanding (and rewarding) job.
3. Give yourself a break.
Realize that while “chasing children” isn’t enough, we're at a stage where we likely won't get as much exercise as we want — and that's OK.
I’m one of those people who could (and has) exercised for hours a day, given the opportunity. This, though, isn't one of those time in my life, especially if I want to be present with my children the way I want to. So I’ve come to accept that on most days, I'm not working out to win races or competitions.
4. Stop using children as an excuse.
Our kids, in my humble opinion, should never be used as excuses for why we don’t take care of ourselves. It’s not true and it’s not fair, so don’t do it.
5. Exercise early in the morning.
It’s hard to come up with as many reasons for why we didn’t exercise that day if we get right to it. Try as hard as you can to carve out thirty minutes for yourself before or after breakfast.
6. Let kids feel like it's a team effort for mom to complete a session.
Last weekend, my husband went mountain biking and I didn't want another day to end before it had started because I was waiting for him to get home so I could work out. So I put the baby down for her nap and took my toddler into the basement with me. True, there wasn't a lot of room for her to play in my workout area, but she had two of her favorite books and was ready to help Mama count out her reps.
When I finished a set, we high-fived and yelled, “Go team! We did it! Hooray!”
7. Acknowledge that watching mom exercise isn't the most fun, but there are rewards afterward.
One of the main reasons I exercise in the morning is that it impacts my mood for the rest of the day. I’m also honest with my children that mommy works out because while it does take time away from the beginning of our day, it makes mommy much more patient and fun for the whole day after. Kids may have limited ability to understand a verbal explanation like this, but the proof is in the pudding.
8. Know that rewards might be delayed.
One day, I hope my kids remember how I had to work at staying fit while they were little, and that this helps them develop a healthy attitude about exercise and the priority we should place on it.
For me, it's a problem to have an attitude of "I don't have time" for exercise and caring for ourselves in front of my kids.
I'm raising two daughters, and I want them to grow up with healthy body images and to know that I value myself as a human outside of being their mother. Staying active and keeping my body limber and strong are some of the easiest ways I can think of to work toward this otherwise challenging goal.
At the end of the day, I workout largely so that I can chase my children — staying healthy and in shape for a lifetime with them is one of my best motivators.
But my biggest motivator is simple: I want to feel good and treat myself with love, and exercise is just one thing that everyone should be trying to squeeze in every day. Some people might think that stay-at-home moms have it easy, that there’s no reason for us not to exercise.
But, moms, we know it’s not that convenient, right? So here’s one last tip: be patient with yourself. Know that being in your best shape doesn’t mean looking like someone else.
After all, we are raising tiny humans, and they do see and emulate our behavior. Make sure your workout time is adding to your self-esteem and your self-care rather than detracting from it.
Most importantly? Give yourself a huge hug for working so hard to take care of yourself in front of your kids.