Fitting in Exercise as a New Mom
When Wyatt was a month old, I went to the gym. As I stepped off the treadmill, a fellow gym-goer approached me and we had a brief conversation.
Woman: "Didn't you just have a baby?!"
Me: "Yup, he's a month old now."
Woman: "And you're here?! Must be nice to have a baby who's sleeping so well."
Me: "Umm, it must be. But I wouldn't know…"
The truth is, until this past weekend (knock on wood, knock on wood, knock on wood), I didn't have a baby who slept well at all. Never mind not sleeping through the night, he resisted going to bed for hours and regularly woke up 3, 4, or 5 times during the night.
Why did the lady at the gym assume Wyatt was sleeping so well? Because what kind of sleep-deprived new mom would spend whatever "free" time she found exercising instead of sleeping?
One who likes to work out, that's who. And one who knows that she needs to exercise for her sanity.
Still, people have asked me how I have the energy and time to train for a half marathon. (Yes, I am a stay-at-home mom, but SAHMs don't exactly have all the free time in the world. I've also been freelancing for 25-30 hours per week since February.)
I don't have a magic answer. I simply love to run. So, I find ways to fit it in.
This means I often choose running over sleep (which isn't exactly smart). I figure if I'm going to be sleep deprived anyway, I may as well get some exercise, too (which is not exactly smart either, but it is what it is.)
Here's how I fit in workouts (of course, I don't do all of this in one day):
Work out first thing in the morning.
Wyatt (usually) wakes up between 5-6 a.m. to eat and then (usually) falls back to sleep for another 1.5 hours. After he eats, I burp him, put him in his crib, go pump (I've been blessed with a good supply so pumping before exercise is a must, even after a feeding), inhale coffee and a banana, and head out the door to run. I leave the freshly pumped bottle out so Jeff can feed Wyatt if he wakes up before I get home (it doesn't matter how long he sleeps for, he always wants to eat as soon as he wakes up). If I'm lucky, I can run, shower, and eat breakfast before baby is up for good.
Get moving with baby.
I run with the jogging stroller. about once a week. I'm too much of a wimp to do it any more often than that. We also head out for a walk almost every day.
Exercise while baby sleeps.
Wyatt rarely naps for more than 30 minutes in his crib at once. That's not always enough time for an entire workout, but lifting weights or doing intervals for a few minutes beats no exercise at all.
Be active while baby plays.
I'm trying to encourage more independent play. I realized a couple months ago that maybe it's not the best idea for me to always be in baby's face trying to entertain him. I lay Wyatt on his playmat, crank up the Wiggles tunes, and I grab my free weights while he grabs his toys.
Honestly, the real reason I'm doing so well in the exercise department is because I'm really slacking off in other areas. After caring for Wyatt, my next priority is taking care of myself, which means running regularly. I'll let the laundry sit in the dryer or forget about cooking dinner yet again, if it means I can use that time being active. My body may be in pretty good shape, but I can't say the same for my house.
It also helps that my husband and I are on the same page. Exercise is just as much a priority for him as it is for me, so he has no qualms about waking up early and pitching in (he works out after work).
I'm always curious to hear how other new moms make time for physical activity. I still haven't taken Wyatt to the Y's childcare yet. It's on my to-do list!
This post is part of BlogHer's The Smart Mom's Guide to Being Busy editorial series, made possible by Rice Krispies.
More from parenting