Before I had a child, I was pretty active and fit. I ran, I did yoga, I knew my way around all the free weights and gym equipment. Now that I have a very active toddler, I am still fitness minded. The challenge for me (and many a mommy friend), is how to incorporate fitness time into a busy family life. I am still working at perfecting the art of working out with a baby, but I must admit that it is far easier to find the time to exercise if I can create a workout that includes baby than wishing for those fleeting solo times. And let’s be honest, if a busy mom has the opportunity to be alone, exercise is likely not a top contender, although sleep or a pedicure may be. Here’s my favorite ways to work in some fitness that is baby friendly.
Run, baby, run!
Jogging strollers can truly be liberating. I am not likely to run a PR time pushing my B.O.B. Revolution stroller around, but I do get a cardiovascular workout in, break a sweat, enjoy the outdoors and entertain my toddler all at the same time. When I am feeling particularly ambitious, I also leash up my two dogs (55 and 65 pounds respectively), and take them along, too. While we are running, my daughter points out things that she finds interesting, and I tell her what they are. She also babbles away (and I babble back). She’ll usually sink into the stroller and just get that really sleepy, content look on her face at some point in the run, and she just enjoys the relaxing ride and scenery. It’s a great way for her to get visual stimulation or relaxation, depending on her energy level at the moment, and frees me up to get a little fitness time in.
Circuit Training at the Park
This workout can be done solo, but it is easier if you have another mommy/baby buddy system, because the babies can keep each other entertained while you do a set of exercises. Find a local park that has workout equipment you will actually use and where you can keep an easy eye on your kiddo. Workout bands are inexpensive and very portable, as are lightweight set of dumbbells and can add variety into your workout beyond the stationary park equipment. With a little ingenuity, you can set up a circuit with several exercises (3 or 4 stations) and have baby play right next to you while everyone gets some fresh air. If you have a jogging stroller, running can be incorporated into the circuit training, if desired. Bring some toys along for baby, and take a moment to interact with your child periodically. When I’ve done this workout, especially when other moms and kids are present, moms and babies have fun and moms not only get a good workout in, but also moral support and shared child supervision that allows all the moms to finish up their sets. It works out very well.
Baby Wearing = Calorie Burning
Baby wearing isn’t an “official” workout, but it is an activity that definitely burns extra calories and builds strength if you do it on a regular basis. As you go about your daily chores and walk around wearing 20 extra pounds, you’ll probably find that your leg and trunk strength improves exponentially. The carriers to choose from are many, but whatever you choose, make sure that it provides adequate support for you and your baby. My favorites are the Ergo (font, hip and back carries are all possible) and I’m also delving into the world of ring slings and woven wraps because of the versatility and weight distribution they offer. You will need to make sure that you get in the habit of using proper posture and core support when bending and squatting to prevent injury, just like you would when lifting weights or a box.
It isn’t always easy, but kids usually like to join in on any activity mom is doing. If you can find a way to include your child, you will be able to carve out some important time for self care, and set up healthy habits and life style choices for your child.
As a work at home mom with a super busy toddler, Lynn Louis has to find ways to multi-task everything, including exercise. She actively writes about lodging and family friendly lake activities at Highland Lakes.