Did you make a resolution to work out more this year and “life” is just getting in the way of achieving that goal? I hear you! I always valued the benefits of a good in-the-zone kind of a run or a heart-pumping gym class. I once had unwavering intentions to maintain a regular exercise schedule as a mom, BUT somewhere between child #2 and child #3 I JUST COULDN’T DO IT anymore. Even though I really tried to carve out time for a work-out; the demands of raising three kids finally overruled any intentions I had. There was my feeble attempt at running with two “little ones” in a stroller, but said “little ones” did not agree with being belted into a stroller for more than 10 minutes at a time. There were also multiple attempts to drop the little ones at the nice convenient on-site nursery at the gym. However, I ended up feeling guilty because I had to run as they cried when Mommy left them with strangers. And then there were multiple times when they would pick up a cold or stomach virus, bringing my circuit plans to a halt. Finally, baby #3 came along and honestly, after carrying a 10 to 15-pound baby on my hip and chasing preschoolers around the house, there was a severe shortage of physical energy left for exercising. I finally gave up, handed over my gym card, and sold the double jogging stroller. I know these strategies work for other moms, but it just wasn’t working for me.
So, I had let go of any plans/goals/desire to work out, but I knew I would get back out there again… someday. And… I’m happy to report, TODAY WAS THE DAY! Probably 6 months later than necessary, but I did it! After dropping off my happy preschooler, I pushed aside my to-do list and my grocery list and I just started running (although slow with several intervals of walking). It felt so great to be outside again as my Mizanos hit the pavement around the 2-mile jogging trail. My lungs breathing in the brisk 48-degree air. My feet nimbly dodging the toddlers who would not sit in their strollers. My heart pumping away to fast-paced ‘Mommy music’. Well hello Fergie Ferg! Yes!!!!
How was I able to jump back out there after a 3.5-year hiatus? Well, here’s the thing, I never stopped moving! Even though I couldn’t exercise in the traditional sense, I just kept moving here and there in whatever way I could. I did sun salutations during my kids’ bath time. I did stretches while we watched morning cartoons. I did quad stretches and lunges in the kitchen while waiting for dinner to cook. I did squats and hamstring stretches while changing diapers and washing dishes. While my kids played at the park, I walked laps around the play area. I did ballet while folding and putting away the laundry (oh the endless laundry!) I even did kegels in carpool! I literally danced (and stretched) my way through each day. I didn’t know exactly when I would get back to the gym or the jogging trail, but I knew the day would come and I would be ready!
I share my journey with other moms who are currently in the ‘trenches’ of spit-up, diaper changes, and banana puree and feeling guilty about not getting to the gym. Guilt is not going to help. So, acknowledge the guilt and then just throw it out the window! Find a way to keep moving and stay active. Whenever and however you can. …and keep stretching! The last thing you want is an injury due to tight weak muscles. Sometimes we see the ads with mommies running briskly behind their jogging strollers or hear of friends running marathons to lose their baby weight and we set some unreal expectation that we should be able to do the same. If you can manage to exercise during this stage, great! if not, that is okay. It really is just a stage of life. Find your path and own it! You will come out on the other side and will find time to exercise again at your own pace. Your day will come! For now, just enjoy the time with your sweet cherub and/or your energetic toddlers. One day, you will be out their running along and will truly miss those precious days of dancing through your day.