When you move from the childless into the child-having sphere of life, there’s no doubt that it redefines you. Your life, your priorities and the way you see the world shifts.
Perhaps that’s why, for many parents, self-care behaviors begin to take a back seat. After all, when you have a precious life to be preserving, it’s difficult to focus on your own. All of your worry, concerns, and desires for the future become re-focused through your offspring. Little things like wearing the ‘right’ makeup for your skin tone and keeping fit begin to fall into the background.
It’s understandable, but is that the way things should be? Especially when you get out of the early years of parenting. As your children become less dependent on you for 24/7 focus, there’s nothing wrong with beginning to let your own desires and expectations back into the viewfinder. After all, to truly parent you have to have life experiences to share with your children. You have to be the positive influence you want them to have growing up.
It also gives you a chance to regain a little of your former life. The nights out on the town, dancing until dawn – they’re gone, and there’s probably a part of you that feels relieved about that! But the side of you that cared about your health and fitness is a side that you can let back in.
There are a few things you should know before you delve into your former fitness routine…
#1 – You’re probably not as fit as you were.
You might feel it, but that doesn’t make it so! There’s no doubt running around after young children will keep you in decent shape, but if you’ve not graced a gym in a few years, it might come as a shock. Aerobic, strength and core fitness all tend to deplete if you’re not keeping to a regular regime.
So be prepared for the drop-off, so it doesn’t come as a nasty surprise. If you used to be able to cycle for two hours flat or run half-marathons, then be ready to need to build back up to that.
With that said…
#2 – You can regain your fitness.
If you had the dedication before having children, then you can bring that same determination back to the fore. Sticking to a regular workout regime isn’t easy, especially as a parent, but it’s worth it for the health benefits.
So while it may be off-putting to see just how far off your personal bests you have slipped, don’t let it dissuade you from trying to reach those heights again. This is the beginning of the road back to your fitness goals, so rather than shying away from it, you might as well get on with it and take the first step!
#3 – Fitness, nutrition, and health monitoring might have changed since you were last in a gym.
Obviously, this is dependent on how long you have been out of the fitness hobby. If you took a year out for pregnancy and birth, then it’s unlikely much will have changed. If it’s been five or more years, then things might have moved on.
These areas (fitness, nutrition, health) are all highly scientific. As with any well-researched scientific area, that means they are changeable. Research updates attitudes, changing what’s acceptable all the time. Lest we forget that, once upon a time, doctors would tell people to smoke cigarettes until research indicated that was a seriously bad idea.
Take a bit of time to get yourself up to speed on the latest innovations. If it all seems overwhelming, then don’t hesitate to contact a personal trainer or nutritionist who can help get you up to speed.
Concern Busting: Worries Parents Have When Returning To Fitness
It’s natural to be worried about the idea of returning to fitness workouts after having children. However, in most cases, these concerns are misplaced and are more about the unknown. So to help you get back on track, let’s bust a few of the most common worries…
What Will My Kids Do While I Workout?
This depends hugely on what you’re planning to do for your workouts.
If you’re going to workout at home, then you shouldn’t have a problem. Use a baby monitor when they’re younger and typical distractions – like a jigsaw puzzle or coloring book – should suffice as they grow older.
For gym-goers, more and more gyms have creche facilities on site. All you need to do is research for a membership somewhere that has these kinds of parent-friendly accommodations.
Even if you’re planning to run half or full marathons, fantastic facilities such as on-site childcare or programs like RaceKids.org are available to help busy parents. If you can mingle their playtime with your workout, then surely you’re on to a winner?
What If I Hurt Myself and It Impedes My Ability To Parent?
This applies to any area of life really, doesn’t it? Not working on your fitness doesn’t guarantee that you’re going to have perfect health!
Yes, you may be upping the chances of you sustaining an injury – but be realistic. You’re as likely to trip over a toy in your child’s bedroom and sprain your ankle as you are to slip off a treadmill.
How Can I Find The Time?
In the midst of a busy schedule, this is an understandable concern. However, as mentioned above: there are ways and means of combining your child’s playtime (which you already make time for) with your own workout.
Realistically, though, the only way you’re going to find a solution to this is to try it. No one – if you’ll excuse the pun – expects you to hit the ground running. It might take some tinkering with your schedule, trying new things and experimenting with how it works for everyone involved. But you’re not going to know if it’s possible if you don’t try it.
It’s tempting to think things will slot into place some time in the future. You think “maybe when they start school…”, but that’s problematic as you’ll be busy then too. Soon it’s, “Maybe when they’ve gone to college” and before you know it, your workouts will be being impeded by looking after your grandkids! Give it a go – it might just… well… work out.