Exercising with Small Children and Babies

Determined to get fit and lose the pregnancy weight, in an attempt to get started I read all I could about getting motivated and juggling exercising with babies and small children.  I came across lots of advice…. You’ll feel better for it.  When they are asleep put on a yoga DVD. Take the baby for a walk in the pram. Find a friend and exercise together.  Get up early while the house is still asleep. Set a goal.

While many of these tips are true, the truth was it was hard to get motivated. The reality was, when the baby was asleep the last thing I wanted to do was put on an exercise DVD. By the time I'd finish rushing around cleaning up the breakfast dishes, did a load of washing and started thinking about what I could cook for dinner, my baby would wake up and that would be the end of any ‘me time’.  As for taking the baby for a walk in the pram, the streets around me are so hilly that wasn't an attractive option. Finding a friend was also difficult as my closest girlfriend had twins so trying to coordinate the right time that would suit all babies was a major accomplishment.   Getting up early also proved a barrier when sheer exhaustion meant I would always choose sleep over the need to get up early and exercise.

Eventually things changed.  It got easier as my baby got older, and two things got me on the road to getting fit.

The first was that I started running. I broke the rules. I went on my own, as it was too hard to coordinate my exercise with the needs of someone else who was also juggling a new baby.   I began to see running as a reason to leave the house for an hour whenever it was possible.  Some days I felt like it and some days I didn't. For me it worked, and it still does. Eventually I found a group to run with and for an hour each week we pound the pavement together, we talk, heavy breathe, listen and at times don’t even realise we are doing ourselves some good.

The second thing I found in those early baby days was the park exercise group.  You may see a group of women in the parks running around, doing squats, hovers and push-ups. I found a group at my local park. This group saved me.  It got me out the house and into the outdoors with once again a group of women who were living a life like mine.  A day of toddlers, cleaning up mess, washing, cooking, the never-ending slog.  Together we would exercise while our children would play in the park and afterwards we would join the kids for a play and a coffee.  Some days it would work out for my child and me and once again some days it wouldn't.  

Out of all the advice of how to start exercising and how to keep exercising, I find that the most important thing is to find what works for you, at the end of the day you have to enjoy it, or you will find every excuse not to do it! What also worked for me was setting a goal. Be kind to yourself and realistic as to what you can achieve, a marathon may sound great but simply running 5kms without stopping is also a great achievement when starting out. I have managed to achieve things that I would never have thought possible years ago and it all started with a 2km run down to the shops and back without stopping!

Louise Gaspar is a Brisbane based blogger and mum extraordinaire

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