It’s hard to exercise when you’ve also a child to mind.
It’s a never-ending juggling act, trying to coordinate the following events to all coincide:
- The child being in a good mood / preferably asleep.
- Someone else to be around to look after said child.
- The weather not being too cold or wet or windy.
- It still being light outside – that’s 8 hours during Irish winter time.
- And actually being in the right frame of mind yourself to do some exercise.
That said, there are a few tricks I’ve learned about how to still get some time to exercise whilst also being a new Mum.
Buy some bike rollers: these have been great to be able to do some cycling whilst remaining firmly indoors. I’ve waited until the baby is put down at night before getting up on to them. They take a bit of getting used to, having spent a few sessions hanging on to door frames to stop myself from toppling off. But once you’ve managed the balancing act, they are great for staying close to child whilst still getting some biking in.
Buy a Bob running buggy: Best purchase ever! Now I can go running with my baby without worrying if he is creating havoc at home. The Bob Revolution SE buggy is expensive, around the 500 USD mark, but it has been well worth it as now we’re able to enjoy exercising together as a mother and son team. And he even seems to like it: he has never cried once in it, and normally I find him fast asleep by the end (see photo above).
Hang out in Cambodia: Not exactly a tip that is easily replicated, but very effective none the less. I can get someone to look after my child whilst I’m here, one-on-one, for less than 3 USD an hour. And many Cambodians are simply wonderful with kids, leaving me to go out for a bike ride, run or swim without worrying.
Things that didn’t work so well were bringing the kid to the gym. I once stayed in a hotel with him and thought he wouldn’t mind lying beside the treadmill whilst I did a quick jog. He spent the whole time crying when I put him down, causing me to abandon the session and that strategy.
Susie Mitchell, the Irish track cyclist, wrote in her book “Pregnancy to Podium” how she would plonk her baby in the middle of the track in a make-shift tent and do her sessions around her. The kid seemed to not mind a bit, even getting loads of attention from the other cyclists, especially when it started to rain and they sought to share her shelter.
It’s a bit of a juggling act, trying to look after your baby and still get some time to train. But, with a bit of trial and error, it is achievable. And it is good for you as well for baby, allowing you to shed the pregnancy weight, have an hour’s headspace to yourself, as well as get fit again.