How to manage your busy days during the first years into motherhood and with additional little ones before grade school arrives. Those first five years before children enter grade school can be daunting. I mean the first questions that pop into my mind are: How do you fit your workouts in? What workout should you do? How do you find childcare? Where is the time to tend to you?
I worked part-time to full time hours with my oldest. I found that when I had reliable childcare I could fit in workouts or walks in to take care of my body. But, when the second kiddo arrived it was suddenly so much busier and more challenging to find time to take care of my body and my need for movement. I had to find creative ways to get my necessary movement in to take care of myself physically, emotionally, mentally and on a soul level. Here are ways I found to get those meaningful sprinkles in.
For the Baby Phase (under a year)
Add crib pushups to have some playtime with baby
Lots of walking - please don't undervalue the power of walking for your body and well-being
Remember, if you are not getting much sleep try not to be tempted to do a lot, it will put you at risk for illnesses. The immune system isn't working quite at full speed with lack of sleep.
For the Active Toddler Phase (1-2 years old)
Play! Grab a ball, chase around, balance on rocks - YOU and your kiddo
Get the kid into a hiking backpack. It's great for your posture. It's like wearing a weighted vest. There's power to it! And, you both get to enjoy the great outdoors even if it's in your neighborhood park.
Dance parties! Dance like no one's watching. Just get moving.
Yoga Kid Books. So many out there. I have my favorites. It's a great opportunity to make shapes with your kids and also for them to teach you. It's an opportunity to check into your breath. Breath is deep core work, my friends! See, sneaking in some core work on ya!
Carve out 10 minutes of peace for yourself. Ask your partner to give you some time to tend to you that is more than a shower. Can you find something that fits into self care during a nap? Self care is something nourishing, that fills your cup. Not something that's like doing laundry or dishes, etc.
For the Preschooler Phase (2.5yr-5 years old)
Walk, Run, Hike, Meditate, go to a class, take an online class if you have the time while a kiddo is at preschool. Take time to take care of yourself! Self care is not selfish.
Keep doing all of the above if you have multiple children.
Do a workout with your kiddo! You'll be a great role model.
I love that yoga and Pilates can be done in Pjs. I'm serious. If a child can watch 20-30minutes of Bluey, Sesame Street or Mecha Builders while you get some time on your mat...... I say that's a win.
This may be a big change of mindset for many when your ideal workout is an hour at a studio or gym to the idea of grabbing 10 minutes here and there may be a shock to some of your mindsets. I promise you they add up though. I see clients efforts during the week. After my second baby was born, I've had very limited availability to take on private sessions. I dole out homework for clients to do during the week, nothing like a structured class but, it 100% shows in their weekly sessions with me. Research is also supporting this idea of breaking up the day with activity. So those of you at the computer or desk, take your breaks, move a bit, and then return. The adage of "sitting is the new smoking" is still a thing.
So let's circle back to those questions at the start of this post:
How do you fit your workouts in? Where you can, my friend. If it's 5 minutes here, great, give yourself a star. Metaphorically or if you are like me, about L's 15 month park, I started putting star stickers on my paper calendar when I ran, or got a serious workout in, and then highlighted the dates I got 10minutes of stretching or rehab work in. I'm an Aries so sometimes I need to tend to my ego, and see visually, yes I'm putting time in for me.
What workout should you do? Any workout that makes you feel good. Listen to your body. Don't know how?.... Then let's connect. And, of course I am very biased on this topic. Pilates is excellent at healing postpartum bodies. Yoga is excellent at overall healing and stress. Walking is severely underrated. Being outside is a must.
How do you find childcare? Such a great question! Ask for help and support from friends, family, partner, other mamas in the same boat, daycares, look to see if a local gym or barre studio offers childcare so you can get some time in for yourself. Or, get creative like I did. Find way to get movement in with your child(ren) - it's just reality for some of us.
Where is the time to tend to you? Everyone needs daily self care. It looks different on everyone. Obviously as a Yoga and Pilates teacher I favor movement for your mind, body and soul. It doesn't mean you have to do #yogaeverydamnday ... or maybe your yoga every day looks like stretching, legs up the wall, or maybe it's a more active practice. I challenge you though to believe there is power in rest as well as an active practice.
Motherhood is balance. Your children won't be young for long. There's no need to pressure yourself into being super fit during these years. I don't want you to be a couch potato either. So take a breath, get outside, find a movement practice that connects you to you, and savor.
Be well. Be kind.
Pictured: Neighborhood walks and runs. Yes, I totally do workouts in my Pjs. Let's be real. And, park stretches. Park Benches are great for stretching like that on a Pilates Barrel, and squats, tricep presses and pushups.
Please note: Check in with professionals on pain/discomfort and feelings of overwhelm, anxiety and depression. Motherhood is marked with challenges but there is a lot of support out there, it doesn't have to be done alone or in isolation.