Being a mom takes up a lot of time. And energy. No matter how much you love it, this is a fact from every mom I know. I am a happily married mama to two little girls, ages 1 and 3, and I also work full time outside of the home as a registered nurse. Hectic doesn’t really begin to describe my daily life. By the time I get finished tucking the girls in at night I usually collapse on the couch in front of my computer or the TV. Sometimes I just go straight to bed when I finish nursing the baby. Because I’m tired.
So making time for a daily workout routine as a working mom is very challenging for me. Before I had my second baby I was at least sort of active. I was on my feet at the bedside each day. After my second baby, I changed nursing jobs and now I sit at a desk all day. I also gained over 50 pounds during my second pregnancy (while I was on modified bed rest for 25 weeks). I absolutely needed to work to get that extra weight off. A good workout routine wasn’t something I was successful at before I had my first child so finding time for it after my second child is that much harder.
The biggest benefit was that I started my workout routine from Day 1 of returning to work after my maternity leave. I had a fantastic morning routine and I was completely motivated to get up early so that I had enough time to nurse my baby without feeling rushed. We have an elliptical that took up a lot of space and got practically no use initially. However, I don’t enjoy working out in front of others so I was very glad we had it once I started this workout routine. In those beginning weeks of working out, I let myself know that it was really okay to take things slowly. Besides having limited time for my workout, I simply didn’t have the stamina. I started out with 6 minutes on the elliptical. This may sound ridiculous, but that was the most my body could tolerate. I hadn’t moved much after months of bed rest and still had about 35 pounds of extra pregnancy weight. I encouraged myself that 6 minutes is better than zero and to keep up with it. Additionally, I made sure to take the 6 flights of stairs up to my office at least twice per day. It may not seem like much but it’s better than standing on the elevator. I gradually increased my time on the elliptical and was able to get up the stairs to my office without getting winded.
And then around my baby’s first birthday…teething struck. Hard. The ear infection didn’t help nor did the scary wheezing episode. My youngest has never slept all that well but, at this point, I felt like a million bucks if I got to sleep for a four-hour stretch. This rarely happened. At 14 months we dropped the morning nurse. My motivation to get out of bed early was gone. That has gone on for almost 6 months now. My previous routine and passage of time has helped to bring me back to my original weight. But it’s not even about the weight. I’m still not happy with my figure. More than that, I know I need to exercise in order to truly be healthy.
After several months of failing miserably at getting up and using my elliptical (despite setting the alarm to do so) I decided to take part of my lunch break to at least get up and get moving. For the last couple of months I have been walking up 20 flights of stairs almost every day. My goal is to continue to increase both the number of stairs plus the pace that I take them. It’s still not a lot but it beats sitting at my desk reading a magazine.
My husband has recently resumed his exercise routine. He, too, was hit hard by the teething, sickness, no sleep phase. He signed up to run a race to motivate himself. Seeing him workout does help motivate me. Despite this, if I find myself up with either of my children in the middle of the night I tell myself it’s okay to hit snooze. Since one of them usually wakes up, that allows for a worn down snooze button. Hitting snooze is now a habit. A bad one. Finally, though, one day last week I got the heck out of bed. It was 5:30 a.m. I actually did have the energy. I think I was a little nervous. Even though I did (and still do!) say it was okay to only be able to do 6 minutes on the elliptical, I didn’t want to go back to that point. 6 minutes came though and I felt fine. I was able to stay on at a reasonable pace for 15 minutes. As I got in the shower I chanted to myself that I really can do this. I will pick it up even more in the coming weeks.
I have set a new rule for myself: If I don’t get up in the morning and workout on my elliptical then I have to exercise in the evening after the girls go to bed. Since I would rather plop down on the couch, I am hopeful it’s enough to get me up and moving in the morning. I’m still doing my flights of stairs at work. When I get home from work I make an effort to turn on music and dance with the girls occasionally. Once spring comes, I’m looking forward to being outside on family walks.This would actually get me moving at a moderate pace 3 times a day. If I don’t get to one of these due to a sleepless night, a lunch time meeting or bad weather I am hopeful to have completed at least one or the other exercise times. I plan to increase my time and pace. To people who are runners or go to the gym every day this all may seem like really small stuff. I used to feel a little embarrassed by how little I was doing. But then I realized I am doing the best I can with the little time I have as a working mom of two. And something is much better than nothing.
Julie blogs at Don’t Lick Your Sister where she shares her journey of the many unexpected challenges and joys of life as a mom to two young daughters. She enjoys writing about her experiences of natural child birth and breastfeeding as well as life as a working mom, activities she does with her family and many of the things she has learned from motherhood.
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