Children and Exercise

This is not a post about childhood obesity. I'm actually perfectly happy that my kids get loads of exercise.

No, this is about me and my lack of exercise since having children. It's about my desire to not become unfit and unhealthy, but my total lack prioritising to actually do something about that. I go through fits and spurts where I finally manage to arrange some child care and get in a bit of a routine; or I set alarms stupidly early so I can go for a run at 4:30am and be back in time to shower and get everybody's breakfast before they wake up - but it's not sustainable. At least not for me.

The sun stops rising early enough for me to run, or I just get too exhausted with it; one of the kids is sick and they just need cuddling; child care can't make it anymore... there's always something, and once I'm out of the habit it's so hard to get back in.

This week my husband had some free time during the day to work from home and the kids were still both asleep (late night) so it was the perfect opportunity to take the dog for a run by myself - but then the youngest woke up. She wanted to come on the run with the dog.

I could have said no, but it seemed so mean.

The beginning of the walk I resented how slowly we were walking. I think the dog did too, but then I decided that if I wasn't going to run, I needed to make some form of exercise, and that's when I noticed someone had started building a stick shelter in the woodland. There was loads of big heavy sticks around, so I convinced Lila to play house in the shelter whilst I built it even bigger and better for her. The dog ran circles around us.

Twenty minutes later I was exhausted and aching, Lila was happy that we had played together and even the dog was panting.

That's when it hit me. As mum's our lives need to look a bit different. Swimming by myself, cardio classes and long lonely runs might not be viable. My exercise needs to look different now. It needs to be exercise with children, but honestly, getting fully engaged with playing with them, is exhausting. It definitely counts as cardio. Playing tag, wrestling, building a stick house, it all burns calories, builds relationship and creates memories.

Being a mum can sometimes feel like dying to yourself and putting other people's needs first all the time, but actually you can meet your own needs too; you just might need to be a little bit creative about how you do it.


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