22 Feb Fitting It All In
There are two days out of every year that are non-negotiable for getting my workout in.
A good workout. Those two days are my birthday and New Year’s Day.
This year on my birthday I spent the first half thinking I was turning 37. Imagine my dismay when I finally did the math (I had to do the math!) and figured out I was actually 38.
I was also super busy on my birthday this year, so I had to really work to find a way to squeeze a good workout in. If I had it my way, I’d work out every morning before anyone wakes up. But sometimes (okay lots of times) I don’t have it my way and someone else – someone very small – wakes up before me and I must adjust my schedule accordingly. This year I had about 25 minutes to spare for a workout on my birthday, and since it had to be a good one, that called for a 5K time trial with the double jogger (one of my favorite in-a-pinch fast and furious workouts).
Propelled by the time-crunch of the hectic day it was, I actually set a double jogger PR! I wish there was a formula to accurately calculate the handicap for pushing my then 3-year-old and my 1-year-old (a grand total of 63 pounds of kids plus the weight of the stroller), but no such math exists. Still, I felt pretty good about turning 38 and running a 22:42 5K (7:19 per mile average) with the double jogger.
Before I had babies, I was really regimented about getting my workout done every day first thing, before the day got away from me. I was a running purist, too – my workout always had to be a run. And I always thought it would be that way once I had babies, too. As every mom knows, things get complicated pretty fast. For one thing, sleeping at night is no longer a given. Going outside for a workout is sometimes impossible. Add in juggling multiple, often unpredictable schedules and mommy guilt, and you’ll quickly find yourself asking, “How can I fit it all in?”
Here are my top 4 options for getting it done.
Work out when baby sleeps – early in the morning or after baby goes down at night.
This is easiest if you’re working out at home, or if you have someone (daddy perhaps?) to pull guard duty while you’re away. Of course, it’s only possible if you’ve gotten adequate sleep, too, and often unrealistic in the first few weeks after bringing baby home. This option is much easier after baby is about 6 months old, or when they (and you) have the ability to sleep through the night.
Work out when you can, depending on the day’s events.
Option #1 is my preferred option, and I’m sure it is for everyone else, too. But if you’re not really the one in control of your daily (or nightly) schedule, sometimes you’ve gotta just roll with it. I always aim to work out first thing in the morning, but there are often several-week stretches when I’m getting my workout in whenever there’s a nap/quiet time overlap between my baby and my preschooler.
Break up your workout throughout the day.
Enter athleisurewear. Yoga pants and a cotton tee are my daily uniform. You can play with your baby in this outfit, it looks alright enough to run errands in (seriously, don’t judge me here – just embrace it), and it’s possible to do a pickup workout in. In fact, just today I did a 20 minute babywearing workout while my daughter and I waited for my son at an appointment, and later in the day I did a 15 minute strength circuit.
Work out with baby.
Just before I had my son (my firstborn), one of my colleagues had a baby, too. She casually mentioned running on the treadmill with her newborn daughter sleeping in the infant seat nearby, and I latched on to that idea. I thought I could do it too, but my son did not agree. From the moment he was born, he was definitely not okay with me exercising in the same room as him. Asleep or awake. Thankfully, he is alright with going for runs in the jogging stroller – most of the time. My daughter is much more relaxed about the whole thing, and she actually loves baby-wearing workouts, so we do one once a week. We will both be sad when she outgrows it! Check out a few more options for working out with baby here.
Someday, I will be able to set up my schedule the way I want it to be, and I’ll be able to regularly work out first thing in the morning again. But I don’t know if I’ll ever be such a running purist again. One of the benefits of having to make changes to my workout program is that I’ve become so much more of a versatile athlete, and I really think I’m actually more fit for it. At least that’s what I’ll keep telling myself.
Whatever option you choose (and it may be a different option every day of the week), learn to forgive yourself and embrace the word perfect-ish. It’s okay if your workout isn’t what it was 5 years ago every single day. It’s okay if you have to constantly adjust your schedule to get a workout in however you can, depending upon the day. It’s okay if you don’t take a shower or if you don’t even get a workout in at all some days. The important thing is to keep exercise a regular and prioritized part of your life. Even if you have to shorten your workout to 10 minutes sometimes. Keeping exercise a habit will help you in so many ways, and it will help your little one, too – in the short and long term.