The “Momover” … Finding Time For Exercise

March 13, 2010

A big component of my post-kid Momover is exercise.  In fact, it is the top priority and the first thing I poured myself into after the birth of my son.  I was intensely devoted before I got pregnant, waking before the birds to get in a run or spin class before work.  That hour before dawn provided me with silent time to think, make mental lists, or just enjoy the fresh outdoors.  I loved the physical and mental energy it gave me and felt sluggish and grumpy when I missed a day.

Under my midwife’s guidance, I continued to exercise during my pregnancy (until I was put to bed), and couldn’t wait to get back into it after baby.  I wasn’t prepared for how hard it would be.  I felt so lame when I could hardly run a mile, but I kept at it, and it eventually got easier.

The physical hurdle was just half the battle.  Setting aside a time for exercise was not as easy as it used to be.  My husband no longer had the luxury of sleeping in while I got up at 5:15 for my time– our baby was up, too, needing to be fed, changed, and entertained.  Husband knew how important it was to me and volunteered to take over while I was gone, but I would occasionally detect a hint of resentment.  Whether this perception was a reality or just my PP emotions taking over, I began to feel guilt for the time I was spending on myself.

This is where therapy came in handy.  I had to learn to talk openly with my husband about my needs, and to manage those unhelpful feelings and emotions.  As it turns out, we both prefer the Me who has burned off some steam and a few calories to the Me who mopes around complaining how fat she is and lashing out with emotional volatility.

So how and when can a mom fit in exercise?  Each family has its needs, so what works for one mom may not work for you.  Here are some things you can try:

  • Wake up before the birds– This was easy for me because it was what I had been doing all along, but it’s a great way to fit it in, especially if one or both parents are back at work.  Make an arrangement with your spouse, setting aside certain days that he/she will agree to take over the parenting duties during that time block.  What?  You’re not a morning person?  Don’t be a p_ _ _ y.  Not only will you get over it, but research in the area of exercise physiology shows that during exercise after a fast (i.e. first thing in the morning), your blood sugar levels remain stable, as opposed to exercising after you have eaten and started the metabolic process.
  • Take advantage of nap time– While your child is sleeping, you can get in a good abs session or do your favorite pilates video.  When I was trying to shrink my PP tummy (still trying, just without so much gusto), I would do my abs while he was asleep.  As soon as I put him down, I would go straight to the TV room and get to it, so I wouldn’t have the excuses of being too full from by big lunch or running out of time.
  • Alternate days with your spouse– Split the days of the week between the two of you.  Knowing that your husband is working out may give you more incentive to the same.
  • Utilize your weekends– Weekdays can be hard because one or both of you are working, but Saturdays and Sundays may be a good time.  At our house, my husband takes the early shift on Saturday, and heads out to ride as soon as we get up.  I take the mid-day shift and go to my yoga class.
  • Join a gym– Although it may not work for everyone, having monthly dues and a schedule of challenging classes to choose from may help you get back into an exercise routine.  Many gyms also offer childcare services.
  • Pick up a new activity– Maybe you never were much of a runner, or maybe you have always wanted to train for a triathalon.  Perhaps, like me, you were a yoga-hater but could be converted.  Doing the same workout year after year gets boring, and your body will grow so used to it that you will no longer see physical improvements.  Think of it as just maintenance.  You need to add something new to mix it up and give yourself a physical challenge.
  • Do something as a family– If your kids are small, put them in the backpack carrier and go for a family walk or hike.  If they are a bit older, try a family bike ride.
  • Treat yourself to some new gear– A new heart rate monitor or running shoes always make me feel frisky and eager to get moving.
  • Hire a personal trainer– If you have the time and money, go for it.  Knowing someone is waiting for you at 6am will definitely get you up and out of the house.
  • Hire a babysitter– Sometimes, it just doesn’t work out.  Your spouse had a early meeting for work.  You were up several times last night and needed to sleep in a bit.  I have used what little sitter time I have for exercise- MANY times.  It’s  your time- use it to your best benefit.

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2 Responses to The “Momover” … Finding Time For Exercise

  1. Tina on March 18, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    Thanks for the great suggestions! My main problem is that even 14 months PP, I still feel this enormous sense of guilt for having me time. I know, I know, I have to take care of me if I’m going to be able to take care of anyone else, but it’s almost debilitating, this darn guilt. When I do something that’s just for me (has only been 2 or 3 times since my little one was born), all I can think about is him and getting back home to him). So my question is, how do I get rid of that annoying sense of guilt?

    [Reply]

    Reply:

    Yeah, I had the same problem, and still have to remind myself of it. I started seeing a therapist at about that time, and it helped a lot.

    [Reply]

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