I love to exercise. I’m not an athlete by any stretch, and I would most definitely be picked last for any game except Quidditch (okay, fine. I wouldn’t even get picked for my favorite, broom-stick-enabled team sport because I’m hopelessly afraid of heights). I’m not wholly uncoordinated; I did ballet pretty seriously in high school, even though I got a late start and was pretty much always cast in the annual ballet as a cloud or a tree. Since those days, I’ve mostly been drawn to yoga, light (very, very light) running, other random cardio and Pilates. While some other, parallel universe version of me is exercising daily for two hours at a stretch in adorable workout get-ups from Lululemon, the real me is sporting a tattered Guiding Light t-shirt I picked up seven years ago at work, I’ve got banana smushed into my pants and I’m trying to calculate whether I’d have time for a “run” if I squeezed it in between writing this and getting my kiddo Leo down for his nap. If this sounds familiar, keep reading. If you’re a workout phenom as well as a parent, also keep reading, but please tell me how you do it.
The irony of post-baby life, especially for moms, is not lost on me. Not only do I have far less time for myself than I’ve ever had in my 34 years, but now I’ve got a body that’s morphed and weird and stubborn, and I know deep down that it would take a superhuman amount of determination, grit and TIME for me to get my body back to (close to) pre-baby shape. I exercise on most days, sure. I either find twenty minutes here and there for a quick jog, or I do ab curls on the floor while my kid plays, or I fit in one Pilates class on the weekend when my husband Ethan can take over dadding duties. But I don’t have time for long morning runs, or classes three times a week or extended blocks of gym-time (I don’t even belong to one right now). Up until a month ago, I would drag Wee One on jogs up and down Bernal Hill, but he’s now so unhappy sitting in his stroller that I’ve kind of given up on that (how fun is it to push an annoyed 1yo up and down a challenging hill? Let’s just say it’s about as enjoyable as giving him Tylenol. Which is sort of like when you smush your cat into its carrier to go to the vet). Not that I blame him. Who wants to sit all restrained when you could be FREE ROAMING WITH DOGGIES?).
I’ve gotten the “bike with your kid!” suggestion from a couple of people, but until I can acquire a bicycle, a child bike seat, and oh, enough coordination to manage San Francisco hills with my precious cargo strapped on my bike, that one is probably gonna have to wait. (THANKS to those who made the suggestion. This sounds like a good activity to do as a family, like we did in New Zealand, with Ethan carrying the precious cargo and me just keeping myself off the pavement). Group exercises classes with the baby in tow are a good option, but I haven’t found one near enough to my neighborhood to make it feasible (I’ll keep looking). “Hire a babysitter so you can work out” also seems like a reasonable (if pricey) suggestion, but I have to say, I usually feel guilty not using my babysitter time to write. (Another suggestion might be: get over it! Also reasonable).
I’m not the only one in our family struggling with the “when to exercise” dilemma (a problem we are admittedly EXTREMELY LUCKY TO HAVE). This morning, Ethan was debating stopping by the gym after work or making it home in time to help put our snot nose to bed. I told him to go to the gym, since exercise equals endorphins which equals happy which equals a husband in a good mood who will inevitably sleep better and feel better and spontaneously take out the trash. Leo, ironically enough, has no trouble exercising since RUN AROUND RECKLESSLY is essentially the definition of toddler-dom.
So, question. How do YOU fit exercise into your busy life as a parent? And can you come over and help me figure it out and also teach me how to apply eyeliner and cook a roast chicken while you’re at it because I could use help with those things, too.
Reprinted with permission from Mommyproof.com.
Rebecca Hanover is a writer, Harry Potter connoisseur, grammar nerd and new(ish) mom. She lives in San Francisco.