Finding time for fitness as a new parent
When you become a parent, you immediately lose some of the free time you once had.
I suppose it's still there, but instead of going to the gym or catching a studio class you're playing with a baby ... which is not a bad place to be at all. In fact, it's heaven.
We have to take care of our babies. But we also have to take care of ourselves, and for me a big piece of that is moving my body. I am not well when I don't.
I'm privileged to stay at home with my son. And although my days are busy, it's not hard to sneak a few minutes in on my mat during the day since I am at home — usually wearing yoga pants.
I know — especially for my 9-to-5 friends — it's a struggle to find balance. Between work, baby, relationships and self-care.
My husband has a 9-to-5 job and it took us a while to get the swing of things. To get into a routine where he got to see Memphis, spend some time with me and still reserve some time for working out. Here are some of the things that have worked for both of us.
Work out at home
Most of our workouts are at home. Sometimes I just do my own thing but you can find free workouts on YouTube (like the yoga videos on my channel!) or you can pay for a subscription. For a subscription, I like the Cody App. I'm not a member of a gym anymore so paying for the app is kind of like my gym.
Important: You don't have to commit to an hour-long workout for it to "count." That's something I've had to get over. Most of my workouts are 20-40 minutes.
Here's a postnatal sequence I just posted that's 24 minutes long (and that's my longest YouTube video so far).
Work out with baby
As you can see from the second half of the video, I practice yoga with Memphis. He's entertained by my movement! Kristopher will do HIIT workouts with him when he gets home from work ... which is even more entertaining because Daddy moves fast.
When it's nice out, all three of us will take go for a run or a walk with the stroller. We like to do sprints and switch off who pushes. Sometimes I pause and do pushups or squats or tricep dips on a bench. Meanwhile Memphis likes to GO GO GO and listen to his music. Not only are we getting family time in, but we're moving our bodies and getting fresh air. And I feel like it's good for Memphis to see his parents being active.
Work out while they nap?
I put a question mark because if you are someone who can nap while baby naps, that's wonderful. Do that. People always give the advice to "sleep when they sleep" but that doesn't work for me. I think I've napped a total of twice since we brought Memphis home, and I was a walking zombie both times and just crashed.
I'm the world's worst napper.
When he sleeps, I usually work since I work from home. But if you're at home on the weekend and not working, nap time is a great opportunity to squeeze in a workout. Then you're not missing out on any snuggles or playtime.
Work out after bedtime
Memphis goes to sleep between 7-8 p.m. By then sometimes it's hard to muster up the motivation to get a workout in. So usually these end up being pretty short (which is OK!). Maybe instead of working out, if you're struggling to find the energy, your self-care could be a nice bath. I'm also going to put together a bedtime yoga routine — a special request that I think is a great idea — look for that on YouTube soon!
Take turns on weekends
On the weekends, we take turns working out and playing with baby. Kristopher doesn't get much alone time with Memphis during the week besides so he really enjoys having some one-on-one time with him while I go take a yoga class. He sweetly encourages me to go. It's like he's kicking me out, but with kindness. And then when I get back he'll usually head to the gym during a nap for a longer workout. That might not work for everyone but it works for us. It means we don't spend a lot of time together during the day, but we make up for it at night.
Find a workout space with childcare
Most recently, I've been enjoying taking some classes at Fusion Fitness here in KC. They have childcare! Many gyms also have childcare. If you have a day job this would probably only work early mornings or on weekends, but it's definitely an option.
Give yourself some compassion
As parents, we have to be flexible. Maybe you have a long workout planned but your baby needs extra snuggles. Snuggles will always win for me. It's OK to skip your workout. It's OK if you're not hitting the gym for an hour every morning like you used to. It's OK if you still aren't fitting into your pre-pregnancy jeans and you ordered pizza for dinner again. You're raising a small human, and that takes a lot of work. Go easy on yourself and stop "shoulding" all over the place.
If you do want to incorporate more movement into your days, start small. Commit to 10 minutes. Go for a walk or do a short workout video. Don't make it daunting, make it achievable. You've got this.