W/Kids Series: Exercising with Kids

Qualifying for the Boston Marathon was on my bucket list.  Before I had kids that is.  I soon realized that for that dream, I’d probably have to trade in three little cute cheeks.

I am fairly disciplined in ensuring that exercise is part of my schedule, but right here is one of my biggest challenges in motherhood– getting exercise after I had kids.  Let’s just say physically activity helps me be a much more pleasant person.Now, every parent comes from a different place and has different struggles, but here is what I’ve learned about staying fit with kids, especially when more than one baby comes along.

Don’t be hard on yourself.  In college, I had the goal of running a 6-minute mile.  I’m not naturally fast, and I have short legs, not to mention asthma.  But I’ve always had the determination to overcome even when the stats don’t point my way.  Long story short, after practicing with the track team for indoor and outdoor season, I managed to run that six-minute mile. How did I celebrate? I threw up once I passed the finish line.

When I had baby #1, I was just as determined to be that mom who still ran.  I got a BOB running stroller and would run a few miles or more with baby girl in tow.  I ran a half marathon that same year.  It has taken me awhile, but I’ve had to stop beating myself up over what I used to do.  In fact it can be frustrating since I use the same level of determination to visit the gym each week as I would if I had to train for a long distance race.

Reevaluate your expectations.  Sometimes if feel like I have done an epic fail in exercise (going from 20+ miles/week to maybe 3), but life is different.  After becoming a parent, it’s a good time to reevaluate and maybe tweak our goals a bit.   As a mom, you need not give up huge dreams, but I think it’s important to limit the number of big things you try to achieve.  If you want to run a marathon, don’t try and start your own Etsy business at the same time.   Be realistic as to achieve balance.

Wear elastic pants.  Losing baby weight is a big deal.  But sometimes trying to lose weight can put add more pressure than a mom needs.  When we are so hard on ourselves, exercise can be more of a chore, more of a bore, and something we don’t enjoy.  You can feel it inside when your habits are not healthy.  After delivering babies, I did not like the feeling of having to squeeze in and suffocate while wearing old sized clothes. So, I am a huge supporter of elastic pants.  Did anyone mention they just feel better?

Exercise for sanity and self-care.  It took a while for me to rejoin the gym after having my second. But by #3, I confirmed myself as a true crazy mommy and knew I needed to get back.  For me, going to the gym is more about getting an hour or so of “solitude”, where I can think, regroup, sometimes dream without little people hanging off of me.   Staying fit is only one of awesome benefits.  Years ago, I wouldn’t be caught dead walking an entire workout.  But I’ve changed my goals for exercise and I now go to the gym just to chill move my limbs a little, watch television, and when I need a real pick-me-up, I take a shower! Sometimes I do get a good run, but whatever the case, I use that time to refresh.

Play with your kids. Before anyone dares to call me supermom, know that there are plenty of times I stick a DVD in and pass out during TV time.  Playing with kids is a struggle especially when so many chores abound in the house.  But for the sake of fitness, working out with your kids is a great way to make your kids happy and to get exercise.  Double dip man! Two of my goto exercise are squats and overhead presses (with children).  Getting in three sets of 10 repetitions is absolutely good strength training.  Watch your form though!  If you’re looking for more cardio, find a track or a field or a playground and chase your little buddy around.  While they squeal, you will sweat.

Wake up early.  Or get a running stroller.  When I had my first, it was much easier to go on a run with my awesome BOB Revolution CE.  But once #2 came around, logistics were a little bit of a challenge, if you know what I mean.  Getting my husband to babysit in the evening after work was not very convenient, since meals needed to be made and eaten then homework also needed to be done.

For a time, I considered getting a double stroller, but pushing a double is tough work and since I am not always motivated to exercise (let’s just be real), the extra pounds that I’d be pushing was only going to be more of a barrier. From observation, I’ve noticed that most people who get a running stroller, don’t end up using it to run.  And there’s a reason!

After trying so many different things, I’ve found the gym and waking up early to be the best ways to get in a full workout.  A side note- I can only manage to wake up early to run maybe once a week!

What are you thoughts on exercising with kids?  Share in the comments section if you have found other ways to stay healthy as a parent! And if you haven’t checked out Week 2 of this series, read about Grieving with Kids.