We’ve all heard it before – being a stay at home parent is one of the toughest jobs on the planet. I’ve been lucky enough to call it my job for the last almost 6 years, so I think I have a little experience to draw from. For me, the toughest part was losing myself.
When you become a new mama, your whole world is rocked. This is true whether you stay home or go back to a job. Your new normal is turned upside down as you now have this little 7 pound 11 ounce babe relying on you for ev.er.y.thing. Naturally, you lose yourself in finding your new normal. I felt this every time a new baby entered our family. Your routine, your schedule, your free time, everything gets changed in a moment. You lose who you were prior to knowing this tiny human and take on a new responsibility of finding out who you are WITH this new life.
I have found that when I resist this change, when I try to go on as if life was back to how it was before the birth of a child, is when I get the most burnt out… when I feel the most frazzled and like I have no idea who I am, what I am doing or who the heck is in charge around here.
So, I have learned to embrace it. All of it. The chaos, the unending laundry, the million sippy cup refills, the frustrations and most definitely the triumphs.
But what I have discovered is what you do next is key. Do you sit in that space of not knowing who you are, what you’re doing or where you are going? Or do you work your way out.
I suggest you work your way out. Figure out that routine. It’s there! And I promise you will feel like freaking Wonder Woman when you’re able to follow the natural rhythm that your family thrives on.
It was a few weeks after we welcomed into our home our youngest babe that I started to make some changes. He was 28 hours old when I picked him up from the hospital and brought him home to a just barely 4-year-old, a 2.5-year-old, and a 1-year-old. He was our foster son and was with us from day one until he was 10.5 months old, when we got to reunite him with his birth mama!
I all of a sudden had 4 kids ages 4 and under relying on me every. single. day. For every. single. need. After we got out of the haze of the first couple weeks, I realized we needed to find our rhythm now that things were different.
Naps were the first place to get some attention. I knew that if I could figure out a way to get the younger three (who were still napping) to take a nap at the same time (or heck even overlap their naps by 30 minutes), that I could get a breath of fresh air. That became my goal. It took some experimenting, but it truly didn’t take long to get them all synched up.
30 minutes of bliss. I would turn a show on for my oldest and soak in the me-time. I decided to start using this time to work out. Sure, I could have taken a nap, worked on laundry, or watch a mindless TV show… but let’s face it; a nap would have left me even more tired (and likely grouchy), the laundry will literally never end so meh, and TV has never been fulfilling to me. Working out though – it gave me a heck of an endorphin rush, boosted my self-confidence, and gave me time to dream big while lifting heavy weights.
So… without further a-do… I give to you, my top tips for getting exercise in while you stay at home with 4 kids ages 4 and under (or really any number of kids at any age!);
1. Schedule it – literally write your workout time on your calendar like you do all the doctor and dentist visits. Block it out. It is a non-negotiable.
a. For a lot of people, first thing in the morning is great for them. For me? That doesn’t work. I have tried many, many times to make it work and it just doesn’t. I am not a morning person and getting me out of bed for anything is a task. Night time could work, but I find I am too wound up after my workout to go to sleep. So, nap time is my jam. It is literally the first thing I do as soon as the kids are down for a nap. If anyone isn’t napping that day, they get some good old-fashioned TV time.
b. If you’re a member of a gym that offers child care, then take FULL advantage of that sucker! You’ll watch my kids for free while I go get my sweat on? Yes. Please.
2. Put your workout clothes on – I swear half the battle of getting my workout in is getting my dang sports bra on. So, eliminate that excuse by putting your workout clothes on as soon as you can.
a. Since I work out at nap time, I just put my workout clothes on first thing in the morning, so I am ready to go as soon as they’re asleep. If you plan to work out in the evening, then maybe put your workout clothes on before you start prepping dinner, so as soon as the kids are in bed for the night you can go for it. Or if early morning is your jam, then just put them on when you wake up. Duh.
3. Move every day of the week – yep, all.7 days. But what about a rest day? What about letting your body recover? Every day? That’s a big commitment! Yes. Yes, it is. But YOU ARE WORTH IT! I am not saying you have to lift weights every day or run every day or anything like that. I am saying MOVE every day.
a. Personally, I lift weights 4 days a week, run once a week, and have two active recovery days. During my active recovery days, I will do yoga or Pilates or a killer stretching video.
b. The point here is to get into a rhythm and stick with it! If I only workout Monday through Friday, then the following Monday it is REALLY hard to get back into routine. But if I have set time aside over the weekend to work on my fitness goals, then Monday is just the next day that I am working hard.
4. Choose something you love – if you love the exercise you’re doing, it makes it SO much more appealing. Do you love to dance? Put a dance-cardio video on and GO FOR IT sister! Do you love to run? Get a treadmill in your house, put your favorite show on and run your heart out. Like to lift weights? Hey there new best friend! Me too! Start building your stash of weights, store them in something cute, and follow along with a workout video or series while blasting your thug music.
a. I personally love to stream workouts on Beachbody On Demand since I have access to alllll sorts of workouts from my laptop. I have friends that love Barre and stream that from their computer. Or just head to YouTube and search your favorite type of exercise and wha-la! Hundreds of videos FOR FREE!
5. Gain momentum – the first few days and weeks can be tough but keep at it! Gain that momentum! Once you start feeling those endorphin rushes and that self-confidence is getting boosted you will get hooked and want to keep going!
6. Be accountable – if you work out at home, join an online group that you can check into daily to share how your workout went. Or have a friend that is in it with you and text every day with one another to make sure you get your workout in. If you work out at a gym, commit to going with a friend. When we have accountability in our lives, we are far more likely to stick with it (I’m sure there’s a real stat on this out there, but for now just take my word for it!).
There ya go. It really is simple! Make the time, prepare for your time, then reap the benefits! Let’s see those sweaty selfies sister!