Today, we are pleased to feature guest blogger Laura Peifer, who completed her very first full marathon a year after her daughter was born! Laura is a social worker (MSW) turned stay-at-home mom, and has been running for 11 years, including several 10k’s and half marathons. She is passionate about running, nutrition for the whole family, and natural parenting. You can learn more on her blog, Mommy, Run Fast! Below, she shares her experience and tips on finding time for fitness after baby…
I’m happy to say I had a very smooth pregnancy and was able to continue running up until the day before my daughter was born. I knew that I needed to find ways to keep running after the baby arrived, but had no idea what it would look like. Almost everyone struggles to find time to workout, and moms can have the added guilt of missing out on family time or leaving the kids with someone else. I’ve struggled to find this balance, but have also found that I am a much better mom when I make the time for myself. My energy level is higher, my patience is greater, and I can better care for my daughter when I’m happy and healthy myself.
Here are some of the things that have helped me fit my workout in:
1) A supportive partner: This is probably the single greatest thing that keeps me running! I can get out the door for early morning or evening runs when my husband is around, and I have no concerns about my daughter’s safety or comfort.
2) Jogging stroller: We use our stroller for everyday walks as well as runs. The downside, of course, is the unpredictability of your running buddy and the extra weight to push, but I find it works great for short, easy runs. *Make sure you check the manufacturer’s safety guidelines. Most models are designed for use after four to six months of age, or when the baby is able to support his or her own head.
3) Gym with childcare: We love our gym! The childcare has all-day hours and divides the kids by age so there are appropriate activities for babies through school-age kids. I rely on the gym when the weather is poor, or use it for cross-training classes such as spinning and weights. There’s always the slight worry of being called out by childcare workers, but most children adjust quickly and it soon becomes a comfortable and familiar environment. Many gyms will take children once they turn six weeks old.
4) Treadmill at home: The luxury of running or walking without leaving the house (in the early morning, during naps, or after bedtime) can be a lifesaver if your partner works long hours!
5) Sitting swaps: Some moms take turns watching each other’s kids in order to get in a workout, or hire a babysitter for long runs. I haven’t done either yet, but it’s a nice option to keep in mind.
6) Early mornings: This is not my favorite option (I love my sleep!), but when all else fails, waking up before the rest of the family is an almost guaranteed way to get your workout in. I say “almost guaranteed” because there’s always the chance of an unexpected early wake up, sick child, or too-tired mommy. Even before they sleep through the night, many babies will fall into a pattern of waking at consistent early morning hours. Some moms will stay up after a 4 or 5am feeding to workout, while the baby goes back to sleep. My baby was one of the wildly unpredictable sleepers, so I couldn’t rely on early morning workouts until she was older.
With an infant, it’s also helpful to time the workout appropriately. If you’re breastfeeding, it’s best to exercise immediately after a feeding so that the baby is full and you are comfortable. You will quickly learn your baby’s temperament and find what works for you– some babies may come to love the stroller for naps, others may refuse to sleep there and do best when awake. Keeping their sleep needs in mind, especially when they are older and have more of a schedule, can also maximize the peacefulness of your workout!
Be easy on yourself those first few weeks and months: caring for a newborn is hard work! You may not want to get back into a workout routine right away if you’re overwhelmed and sleep-deprived, but even small steps can make a difference in your mood and energy levels. Taking several short walks during the day and using fitness dvd’s can get you started until you’re comfortable venturing out or leaving your baby with someone else. If you have other questions or comments, I’d love to hear from you!
So, tell us: If you’re a first-time mom, what’s your plan? If you are already an expert juggler, give us your best tips!
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