People say that being a stay-at-home mum is an easy job, but anyone who has been there would know very well how wrong that is. At the crack of dawn, you’re already awake preparing breakfast for the household, but before you’re even done with that, the baby wakes up and you’re swooped into the whirlwind of childcare that sees no rest till their post-lunch nap. With barely even time to catch enough sleep, who would have the capacity to even think about exercising?
However, contrary to popular belief, a short bout of exercise (minimum 20 minutes) will increase one’s energy levels1, leaving you pumped up to conquer the rest of the day. Choosing to workout over that afternoon nap might just be the most difficult decision in your life, but we assure you there wouldn’t be any regrets after. (Because have you ever heard of anyone regretting a workout? Me neither.) But perhaps most importantly, keeping active makes you feel confident and keeps you healthy longer, so that you can be present for as long as possible in your child’s life.
We hope we’ve convinced you that maintaining a certain level of physical activity is important. If you’re still feeling guilty about leaving your child to exercise, we’re here to tell you that having that “me” time is just as important as spending time with your child. After all, if you’re so mentally exhausted from motherhood, would you be able to enjoy the process as much as you would have liked?
Despite that, we do understand that it’s virtually impossible to clock in hours at the gym if you’re the only caretaker during the day. To sneak in time for yourself as a parent is an important parenting skill, so we’ve come up with some ways to help you keep active while still being near your child.
Use your child’s nap time to get in an at-home workout
It may be tempting to clock in some sleep as your child takes a nap, but resist that temptation and put on that 20-minute at-home workout video instead. If you need any more motivation, the oldest trick in the hat still works best – don’t think so much, and just jump right into it. Before you know it, you’ll be a hot, sweaty mess, but we promise you’ll be feeling much better about yourself.
To make things more convenient, choose a few Youtubers whose workout videos you like, and create a playlist that can last you through the week. This saves time having to browse the web for workout videos, which makes it even easier to just jump right into the workout when it’s time.
Use your child as a weight
If you’ve ever questioned the effectiveness of bodyweight exercises, we assure you they are as effective at building muscle as resistance training is. But if you would like that added resistance, look no further than your home. Even at home, there are potential items everywhere that can be used as a weight, the best of which being your growing child. That child of yours could easily average a good 8 – 10kg, which is considered a significant amount of resistance even in the gym. Who needs actual dumbbells when you’ve got a life one sitting right in your living room? Try doing some goblet squats and push presses, and front raises with your child as the weight, and it’ll be difficult to even push out 10 repetitions.
Just as you grow in strength, your child increases in weight. Could this timing be any more perfect for increasing the resistance of your workouts? Furthermore, your child will definitely appreciate the roller-coaster ride they get while you swing them up and down – it’s a win-win for both – and you get to keep them in your sight while you exercise.
Bring your child along with you on your outdoor runs
If you’re one who likes your long outdoor runs in the park, consider kicking it up a notch by running while pushing the baby stroller (with the child inside, of course). This creates an incredible amount of added resistance in your run and trains up your core and arm muscles at the same time – it’s actually like a full-body workout! What’s more, you and your child will both get some fresh air, your child can nap to the rhythm of your run, and you get to intensify your training. The best part though, is perhaps the nods of admiration from fellow joggers, because jogging while pushing 15kg worth of weight is definitely an admirable parenting skill.
Prepare for such runs adequately. Consider investing in a jogger stroller, which makes pushing around corners and turns much smoother. Remember to pack enough to keep your child occupied even after he wakes up – some snacks to munch on, water, and a toy – you don’t want to be headed for home just as you’re really starting to get into the groove. Finally, prepare all these the night before, so that you don’t feel daunted by the packing, and put off the run entirely. We’ve all got those dangerous moments of contemplation, so let’s take steps to avoid that!
Make the playground your gym
We’ve seen our kids hanging easily from the monkey bars or smashing out laps across the bars. Instead of finding a bench to chill out on while your child hops on the gains train alone, join them at the bars and get in a sweat together. If you’ve already got the strength in you for some pull-ups, go ahead and rep it out – you get to be the cool parent that the other children wish they had, and the parent other parents wish they were. If pull-ups are still out of your repertoire (like most of us, actually), consider starting with some dead hangs to train grip strength, or hanging leg raises to train the core. You could also invest in a resistance band to help with getting your first pull-up. Imagine if you trained every single time you took your child to the playground, that would be at least five days of training a week! Progress is sure to come sooner or later, you just got to be patient and trust the process.
Make exercising a bonding activity
As your child grows up, you’ll soon find yourself with a workout buddy who possesses boundless amounts of energy. The both of you could set aside a day or two each week to play a sport together, and make it something that happens every week. Your child makes for a great accountability buddy, because once you’ve made a promise to your child, it’ll be so much more difficult to break it.
Engaging your child in exercise is also a good way to inculcate the habit of a healthy lifestyle from young. We don’t want them growing up to join the ranks of the other 650 million obese people in the world, do we?
We hope that that’s enough tips to get you started on your fitness journey. Remember, parenting does not mean abandoning the other aspects of your life – if you’ve got the intention to stay active, it is possible, just as many others have done so before. Fitness and health are also more of a journey than a quick fix, so do not be disheartened if the workouts are tough or if your progress is slow – stay consistent, and we promise that the results will eventually come.
By reading this article, it actually already means you’ve got an intention to get active. Great job on that, and go get started creating that workout playlist!
1The Effect Of a Single Bout of Exercise on Energy and Fatigue States: a Systematic Review and Meta-analysis https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/21641846.2013.843266?scroll=top&needAccess=true