I just do yoga or pilates when my child naps
Getting out of bed and working out keeps me energised for the whole day
I always start my day with exercise
While my child plays at the playground, I’ll do a quick session of squats or cardio
When you’re a new mum or are in the midst of caring for young children, it’s comments like these that can really get you down. Are they serious? Or maybe they’re just saying those things? But if they are serious, how the hell do they manage it?? With the Hollywood baby boom we’re also bombarded with the post baby body scrutiny and sadly this translates into an expectation that new mums should snap back into their pre baby shape in no time.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for exercising if it makes you feel good and gives you some me time. If you feel like exercising go for it but if you don’t, that’s ok. Why do we have to glorify the mums who are back working out with their trainer when their baby is 4 weeks old?!! For me, it was so much more of a challenge than just a simple matter of “schedule it in and it will happen”. So here’s my rant (i.e. my 5 reasons not to feel exercise guilt!):
1. LACK OF SLEEP: When you’re getting up at night be it only once or multiple times, going to that yoga class at 6am is just not going to happen. In fact, it’s unlikely to happen at 7.30pm either. Same goes for gym sessions, spin classes and boot camps.
2. BREASTFEEDING: The thought of running 50m let alone 5km when I was breastfeeding was too much to bear. I used to have to hold my breasts to support them on the way back down our steep driveway after checking the mail they were so full and painful! And don’t get me started on contending with the leakage issues.
3. TIME: My husband leaves for work at 7am and gets home at about 6.30pm. So if I want to exercise in the morning (and I really didn’t until about 12 months ago when little lord number 2 turned two) I have to be home before he leaves for work. Bit of an obstacle. Same goes in the evenings. Can’t say I ever have the energy to be like “I’m off to the gym now!” after the kids are in bed. It’s also the time when I can chat to another adult and maybe watch some mind numbing TV while sitting on my bum. Sacred time I’m not willing to give up.
4. EXERCISE WHILE THEY SLEEP: Hmmm this is an interesting one. I’m a believer in sleeping or resting while your children sleep when they’re really little. On the days when you have had more than six hours sleep at night you might even be able to read a magazine or a book when they sleep. Then as they get older, I used to find nap time was my get shit done time – cooking, cleaning, admin etc.
5. RUN WITH THE PRAM: When we bought our Mountain Buggy Swift almost 6 years ago, I remember the baby shop sales lady smiling smugly when she said “so many mums buy an all terrain pram thinking they’ll take up running after the baby is born but it doesn’t happen like that.” How right she was. I had been a fairly avid runner pre-kids so I tried a few jogs / shuffles with the pram when my first little lord was about 8 months old. It was hard and awkward and it hurt (see point 2 above). Then I had another baby and got the double Mountain Buggy and it was even harder. It’s really not that fun (despite what Gisele may portray).
So I guess all I want to say is GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK. When your kids are little, look after yourself by resting when you can and eating well when you can. Have
occasional regular treats and don’t stress about trying fit in exercise. Carrying a baby around is your pump class, chasing your toddler is your cardio session and doing a few pelvic floor exercises at the traffic lights is your yoga.
When you do start to feel your exercise mojo return, here are some tips that worked for me and might work for you:
- If you do find some time to exercise on your own, don’t jump straight back in and go for a run. Start with a nice walk around your neighbourhood. Focus on the enjoyment of being out by yourself, not on how unfit you are. If you run straight away, it will HURT and you might lose the motivation to go in the future! I recommend going for a walk on a Saturday or Sunday evening if someone is around to look after the kids. Sometimes it’s nice to conveniently miss the dinner time dramas.
- Go for walks with your baby in the pram. I had many a gorgeous morning walk along our local beachfront promenade when my first little lord was a baby. I found it particularly good during the winter months when the weather was sunny. It was good to get outside, get a coffee and chat to the other mums as we walked. It was no major workout but it was enough to feel refreshed and energised.
- Join a team sport one evening a week. I joined a Tuesday night netball comp when little lord 2 was 18 months old. The games are between 7pm and 9pm and they go for 40 minutes. Husband manages to get home on time most Tuesday nights so I have been able to commit to this activity. I would never leave the house at 8pm on a cold and rainy night to go to the gym or for a run but now that I have made the commitment, I am happy to drive to the sports centre for an evening of exercise and a bit of a social catchup too.
- Exercise at home. I’ve always found this one a challenge but I know there are many mums who love to jump on their treadmill or do a pilates DVD while the kids are asleep / at kindy / at school. This is a particularly good option when the weather is cold and you don’t feel like going outdoors. My personal favourite is the 7 minute workout which I do some evenings in our lounge room after the little lords are asleep. You can get the 7 minute workout app on your phone which guides you through it. The workout is comprised of 12 exercises performed in seven minutes to achieve the equivalent of an hour’s workout. AN HOUR!! But you only take 7 minutes!! It’s G-O-L-D. You do each exercise for 30 seconds with 10 seconds rest in between each one. Sure it’s hard and you’re supposed to do it all at high intensity but it’s so much easier to get motivated for a 7 minute workout instead of a 30 minute one.
- My final tip and if your budget allows it, is to get some well fitting exercise gear. It is so much easier to do a workout / play netball / get out of bed for a walk when you know you have good gear to put on. Big W has the Michelle Bridges range which is stylish and affordable. Target have great options too. Then there’s Lorna Jane and Lululemon for even more amazing designs and colours. Here’s my selection for a range of different weather scenarios:
1. Astound sleeveless jacket $89.99 by Lorna Jane; 2. Studio racerback $59 by Lululemon; 3. T30 mesh tank $15 by Target; 4. Swiftly tech long sleeved crew $89 by Lululemon; 5. Crimson rose butterfly printed yoga legging $85 by Dharma Bums; 6. Honey comfort sports bra $64.99 by Lorna Jane; 7. ONE active printed run shorts $15 by Big W; 8. Active textured skinny trackpants $35 by Target; 9. Rainbow stripe higher waisted printed legging crop $55 by Dharma Bums.
This year I made a new years resolution to attend a yoga class once a week. I am the definition of inflexible which can’t be good as I approach middle age. I bought myself the number 9 cropped leggings and I have been to the 6am Friday class two weeks in a row!! I shall post more about these delightful leggings next week.
So…..do you think there is pressure to exercise when you’re a new mum? Do you / did you feel exercise guilt when you had young kids? Would love to hear your thoughts.