I became a mom 8 years ago this week. Wow how time flies! I've since had 2 additional children. In that time I've also had the priviledge to work with lots of moms with children of their own. We've worked one on one and in a group setting. During that time, I've learned a lot about the challenges and opportunities that working out as a mom with small children can provide. I still believe, in the depths of my soul, that as a mother you do an incredible service to your children to workout around them. They learn from your example what it means to live a healthy and active lifestyle. One they will be more likely to continue doing as they grow. However, that does not mean it is always easy!
Here are the Top 10 things I have learned as a mother and from working with mothers, with children.
10. That Exercise Can Be Done Anytime, Anywhere!
I first learned this when my first daughter was born. Those late nights, when colic got the best of her and me. After hours of walking the house, I learned to use those minutes to perform squats, lunges, calf raises, step ups, etc. They all rocked her to sleep and helped me get in additional exercise time to tone up and lose those pregnancy pounds. Hey, I was already awake right! I might as well make the most of those hours!
9. To Always Have A Back Up Plan!
Lets face it, our children don't always want to do, what we want them to do, when we want them to do it. And you can only take a crying child in a stroller for so long. When I'm not able to get in the workout I planned, I'll switch things up. I may break it up through out the day or take the kids to the park and let them play, while I workout there. I may look and feel silly, but I'll be looking good at the beach later that summer and will feel better about what I accomplished later in the day. Plus, hopefully, the kids will take a great nap from tiring themselves out at the park! A win/win for all of us!
8. Sometimes You Just Have To Stop.
As moms, we all know the difference between the whiny cry and the full, blown, there's no turning back, I've had enough cry. It could be that they're over-tired, over-stimulated, hungry, need to be changed or use the bathroom, whatever it is, there are those times when they have to come first. And lets face it, sometimes we're glad for the extra break we get between exercises. Other times, we're equally as frustrated. But remember, one workout won't make or break you. If you can, soothe them or help them, then get back to the workout. Or try including them. Squats, lunges, biceps curls, planks, push-ups, lots of exercises can be done with your child right there with you. Or just walk it out. You're still moving and they're getting what they need. Then try again tomorrow. Every day, every workout is different and it does get easier. I promise!
7. Always Have Extra Equipment.
This is a must! Without a doubt the moment you go for that jump rope, step, mat, tubing, whatever, your child is going to want to join in and do the same. If you can give them their own to use. You'll love that they're copying you and you'll still get your workout in!
6. They Love To Copy You!
This is related to number 7. Children are little mimics and there is nothing better than seeing them light up as they try to do what you're doing. Whether its a push-up or plank, running next to you or competing in their own race. They will grin from ear to ear, and so will you, as they show you that they can do it to! And you'll know, with much pride and satisfaction, that your dedication to exercise and eating healthy is paying off, for you and your children.
5. That Exercise Can and Should Be FUN!
Have you ever played a game of tag or frisbee with your child? Swam with them at the pool or played with them at the playground? Children can keep going and going and going. They are endless bodies of energy and every game they think is play, can be exercise for you. And why not?! You're both having fun, possibly learning a new skill and moving your body. Isn't that what exercise is all about?! I know at my group classes, Mommy Recess, it is! And boy do we get a workout with those childhood games, like duck, duck, goose!
4. That When You Think You Can't Go On, They'll Give You The Strength You Need To Continue
I remember running my first race pushing a jogging stroller when my daughter was first able to talk. It was a hilly course and we were coming into the finish line. I was tired, but there she was, "Go Momma! Go Momma!". How do you let that down? I couldn't! I pushed through to the finish, beaming that my little girl, was proud of me and was my biggest motivation. Afterall, how could I let her down? Children love to see their moms succeed. From them, you'll find all the strength you need to continue on.
3. You Will Laugh.....A Lot!
Have you ever seen your child try to do yoga poses? Or push-ups? They may copy the faces you make, or the sounds?! :) You can't help but laugh at their antics and laughter always makes you feel good and makes any workout easier!
2. You Can Get Lots Of Extra Kisses And Cuddles.
My girls love to lay near me or under me as I do push-ups, planks, inch worms, etc. They know what's coming....kisses and lots of them depending on the number of reps I'm doing. And talk about extra motivation. Its hard to let yourself collapse from push-ups when your child is laying under you! They're counting on you, and their kisses help to keep your mind off how much your arms, back and chest may be burning!
And the #1 Thing I've Learned From Exercising With Children........
If You Lay Down, They Will Use You As A Trampoline!!!!
It happens everytime, with every child. It doesn't matter if you're doing push-ups or crunches. It doesn't matter how old they are or how tired you are. That loving child, laughing and grinning from ear to ear, especially when you start grunting about how tired/hard/heavy this is, will straddle you and start bouncing up and down. And the funny thing is, even though you're tired and know this is 10 times harder with them bouncing up and down, you'll love every minute of it! And so will they!
So enjoy exercising with your child, the opportunities and the challenges. Its so worth it, for both of you!