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How to Resume Exercising When You Have Young Children

 

Anyone who has kids knows that becoming a parent requires you to adjust your life considerably. Okay, its more like “completely”, who am I kidding. Your social circle changes, your routines change, you stop doing some things and start doing others, even your personal hygiene is no longer what it used to be! As much as couples may believe it won’t happen to them, once we have kids almost everything in your life is affected.

 

Once the initial shock wears off (give it at least 3 months), you do start getting the hang of (some) things again!

 

As wonderful as it is to have kids, one area a lot of parents struggle with for a long time, however, is getting back to their previous exercise regime. If this rings true for you, don’t fret. It does not have to be that way! There are simple solutions which can help you. You don’t need to choose between spending quality time with your kids versus taking care of yourself.

 

Keep reading to get some ideas of how you can exercise with your kids.

 

 

A lot of clients and friends ask me how I manage to maintain my exercise habits throughout my parenthood journey. I am almost as fit as I was before I had my daughter. I even did a triathlon 7 months after I gave birth. But, balancing exercise and family did not come naturally. It was something I figured out along the way, and am still working on every day. Being organized certainly helps. Click HERE to read my previous blog on the subject of integrating exercise into your day.

 

Another tip is to find a way to include your young kids in your exercise regime.

 

Yup, you read correctly. A lot of working parents feel guilty about spending time doing things for themselves instead of spending quality time with their kids. So here is the solution: Include them and make it fun for all of you! Sounds daunting? Or downright impossible? It does not have to be, but it does take some creative solutioning. I started as soon as I physically could after giving birth. And I am happy to share what worked for me so you can do it too.

 

Okay, parents, no more excuses! Its time to get your body back! Lets do this.

 

The types of activities you can do with kids depends on their age, of course.  So here is a list of examples to inspire you:

 

Your child is a baby – At the beginning, I wrapped my baby up with a baby sling and took her on walks around the neighbourhood. At first, those walks were short. I needed to take it easy after delivery and I wanted my daughter to get used to it as well. But with time, she and I would be out of the house exploring our neighbourhood for hours at a time. My baby was snug and safe, enjoying our close body contact, and I was free to go wherever I wanted.

After a few months, I started taking her hiking. The sling worked as well for this. Her neck and head were well supported. And I had my very own heading pad attached to my chest and tummy, LOL.

As soon as I could safely put my baby in a stroller (using towels or cloths for added head and neck support), I started rollerblading and added that to our mix. For example, I took her around the sea wall in Vancouver. Usually, she fell asleep after the first 10 minutes. I used available park benches as feeding stations.

Some of my friends took their babies in their car seats to the gym. The babies were happy to watch their moms, play with a chew toy or nap. And the moms could work out without needing a sitter or spending time apart.

 

 

You child is an older baby – You can still do all of the above activities, but also add a few more for variety. For example, riding a bike by using a bike stroller (but don’t start this until your baby is old enough). Buying a good bike stroller was one of the best investments we ever made. We gained so much freedom with it. We used ours day-to-day to get around town, head to the park quickly as well as during vacations. It’s brilliant for going on summer pick nicks as well. You can store quite a bit of stuff in the pouches.

At this age, you can also start going on runs with your baby using running strollers. Our bike stroller could be converted in to a running and Nordic ski stroller, so that was optimal, but you can also buy simpler running strollers.

Now that you child is larger, you can trade in your sling for a proper hiking carrier. We took our daughter on many trails. Again, she spends a lot of the time napping in it!

 

 

You child is a Toddler – Again, you can still do all of the above and add more fun activities. I started taking my daughter kayaking at this age. If you are an experienced kayaker, then this is a great option when the water is calm. Choose a kayak with a wide opening, fit your child with a good life jacket and place her securely between your legs. Your child will love being on the water with you and likely even try to hold on to the paddle.

Other fun activities: Pulling your kids in a sled in the snow. Skating with them in the stroller. Doing running races with them in the stroller. Again, you get to be together and they may even nap in the process! Double bonus.

 

 

Your child is a Pre-schooler – Now they are too heavy to be in a carrier, but they are more able-bodied and understand a lot more. At this age, they are very curious and interested in doing all sort of things you could not do with them before. For example, a lot of kids really enjoy doing yoga with their parent, hiking in the snow, doing snowball fights and even rock climbing. My daughter and I are really enjoying doing these activities together. And I am being a role model for her to be active and take care of her body.

At this age, kids can start attending certain activities without their parents being there. For example, ballet or ball sport classes at the local community center. During that time, you can get a good 45-minute gym workout done in the same building. Likewise, when your kids take swim lessons, you can do laps in the same pool as well. Or walk the stairs of the bleachers.

Another favorite activity I like to do with my daughter, is to pick her up from pre-school using the bike stroller. We then head to a nearby park or beach to do some exploring before dinner.

Also, at this age, they like to ride scooters or bikes and can really pick up speed! Keeping up with them will give you a good run workout.

 

 

Each age group brings it’s own opportunities, joys and challenges. I imagine that as my daughter grows older, it will become easier and easier to be active together. I am looking forward to a lifetime of activities together. Who knows, one day she will introduce me to new activities. Staying fit allows me to share them with her in the future.

 

What activities do you want to share with your kids, now and in the future? Do you have school-aged children? How do you include them in your exercise regime? Please share by leaving your comments below!

 

In good health,

Simone

 

 

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