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Finding Time for Fitness After Kids

Carve out the "you" time every mom deserves

June 2012

Before I had kids, fitness was a passion for me. Actually, it was a passion even after my first daughter was born. I ran around 15 miles a week and enjoyed biking and walking as well. All of these activities could be accomplished, of course, with my precious first child in tow. Emphasis on "could." Some days it took an hour just to slather sunscreen on her, get her sippy cup and snacks, and strap her securely in the baby jogger. An hour of prep time for a 20-minute run.

After my second daughter was born, I was surprised to find that my passion for exercise had decreased a bit. "What happened to my ability to push myself," I wondered? I used to be different. I used to get excited about getting outside in the fresh air and burning off some steam, or at least excited about putting on my matching workout outfit (even if it was still from the maternity section).

I quickly came to realize that having two kids to prep for "exercise time" was now double the work. I felt like I was packing for a weeklong camping trip when I left my house. Books for my oldest to look at, her toddler juice box, and a snack. For my youngest, a binky (a.k.a. pacifier), cheerios for a snack, bottle, diaper and wipes and her favorite toy. (A little side note: the day you leave your house pushing your kiddos in a jogger WITHOUT a diaper and wipes, is the day someone will have the mother of all blowouts. Take it from my experience!) Finally...I was ready to roll. Triumphant in my dedication, confident in my commitment to having a good run, I started out. This is a cautionary tale. Here is what I learned: Right off the bat, I realized one important thing in my workout equation. That is, pushing a jogger with two kids as passengers is A LOT more work than pushing one! Yikes, my pace was slower, my hands were cramping from gripping the stroller so tightly! This was harder work than before!

Another fitness factor? Being the official "referee" for your kiddos is a cardio sport in itself. Two kids, one stroller equals fighting. It is tight quarters under that little hood. It may protect them from the sun, but it does not protect them from each other! They fight over snacks, who is breathing the other's air, and when we should turn around. There was a time and place when running was invigorating and even empowering for me. Now it was a nightmare. I really needed to concentrate to huff and puff, and that clearly was not going to happen. I was pulling over to pick up tossed sippy cups, tripping over a beloved blanket stuck in the wheels, or breaking up a sibling altercation, all the while threatening my kids to sit still for another 10 minutes. I used to love doing this and now I found myself dreading it. What happened? I realized that something that was necessary and fun for me had now become a chore.

What did I learn? Well, I learned that the state of motherhood was constantly changing. It is a process. My determination to shove a square peg into a round hole was not fun for anybody. My revelation? Instead of changing my expectation, I changed the way I went about it.

Now a mother of three, I know that it is okay to workout without my kids in tow. Carving that time out for myself and allowing myself the permission to enjoy it is vital to my sanity and to being a good mom to my children. In the meantime, I was just exhausting myself instead of recharging myself.

With summer here, fitness and exercise can be fun and really a great way to recharge by being outside. The days are longer and you deserve some time to reboot! As we moms all know, motherhood is a marathon, not a sprint! Therefore, taking time along the path of motherhood for a walk, a run, a workout class (without kiddos in tow) only makes us stronger, more prepared and better in the long run! Happy Summer!

Mary Susan Buhner is a Life Coach for Moms and author of "Mommy Magic: Tricks for Staying Sane in the Midst of Insanity." Visit her Web site at www.Mommy-Magic.com.

Tags: In This Issue, Parenting

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