Almost every morning I have an internal battle. In my old life, I would get out of bed at 6am to go running, sometimes with a friend but mostly alone, training for a race by clocking mile after mile as the sun came up (yes, I’ll admit right away to being one of those “crazy” exercising-loving people). These days, I wake up to the sound of my little girl calling for her momma and my sneakers just don’t seem to call my name as strongly anymore. It’s not that I don’t want to lace up and sweat myself calm before my day begins, but life is different now.
There’s a lot of build-up around becoming a parent and while a lot of the extra anxiety we create for ourselves is unnecessary, there is some truth to the fact that your former self and your new self as a mom probably aren’t the same person. You can’t do the same things anymore simply because there’s less time. Unless you have a really awesome support system, organizing your life with a baby is just different.
I talk to a lot of moms and I often hear “I’m a mom now, so I don’t have time to work out anymore” or simply “I’m a mom now and I have other priorities”. Many moms lose themselves in motherhood and put aside their own schedules for the benefit of the family. But being healthy and working out isn’t just about fitting into your skinny jeans or recreating the body you had before. The goal of eating well and being active is to stay healthy. Taking small steps now are important to help you stay strong so that you can be there when your son has his first child, or when your daughter gets her first job. It’s about enjoying life, free from preventable ailments. To stay healthy, it’s important to foster awareness around the importance of taking time out for yourself.
In my own life, I have found the following things to be helpful in finding a happy balance between my old life and my new one.
1. Start small but set your health as a priority. I truly believe that all moms should consider that making time for yourself is not selfish; it’s important for every member of the family to have some “me time”. Happy moms help create happy children. And healthy people are usually also happy people.
2. Staying healthy doesn’t exclusively mean exercising. It’s not always a physical workout that you need; a mental rest can do amazing things for your health. Giving yourself an opportunity to clear your mind and relax is a really smart choice.
3. If making time for a solo workout is too stressful, involve the family! Get creative and find something that works. If your child is young, incorporating some at-home moves while she plays on the ground can make her laugh while you gain strength. Putting on some music and dancing gives everyone a chance to wiggle and stretch. You can find some great kids music here.
4. As your kids get older, you can introduce family sports like soccer and basketball. Try to keep things fun and non-competitive. Getting some exercise shouldn’t seem like a chore for kids.
5. Finally, look for support in your community. If you and the other moms at your playgroup only get together for coffee and unhealthy snacks, propose an alternative, like a play date at the park or a group walk. There will likely be other moms who are up for it. Maybe it won’t replace the coffee and snacks (I know from my own experience that those meet-ups are just as important for sharing stories and parenting tips) but maybe you’ll make extra plans for another, more exercise-oriented outing.
It’s crucial for your future to learn from who you were before your life as a parent began. Maybe you won’t want to revert back so much that you make yourself stressed about fitting in every workout or feel guilty about every meal. However, remembering the value that you once placed on your health before greeting your baby into your life is a really important tool for establishing a good, health-oriented routine.