There’s an ongoing debate about what is tougher: going from zero kids to one kid, or going from one kid to two kids. For me, the jump from zero to one kid was the biggest challenge. Welcoming your first baby completely turns your life upside down (in a wonderful way!) and your routine and lifestyle is forever changed. However, when it comes to my ability to exercise and feel healthy, this has been infinitely more challenging since becoming a mom to two.
After having my first baby, I got back into a steady exercise routine by three months postpartum. It didn’t feel that hard. When the baby napped, I exercised. When my husband was having time with the baby, I exercised. When it was nice out, I plopped my baby into a jogging stroller and off we went! I even began hosting my own baby-and-me workouts. This working-out-as-a-mom thing was easy, I thought. Why did everyone complain about how hard it was?
Well, after having my second baby I get it. I take back all my humble brags about how easy it was to stay fit while being a mom. With two kids, it’s really freaking hard. When one baby is napping, most likely the other one isn’t. Uninterrupted time to myself is hard to come by. While a baby-and-me workout sounds great, what would my toddler be doing? And sure I could put them both in a double jogging stroller, but first that would require me to spend a few hundred dollars on a new stroller and, more importantly, how often will both my kids be in the mood to be my workout buddies (at the same time)?
If it sounds like I’m complaining about my situation. I am. And I had been for months. As much as I wanted to get into a workout routine, the logistics seemed hard. I was also exhausted and lacking motivation. Until I hit 10 months postpartum and felt ready for a change.
Working out and having a healthy routine makes me feel good and gives me more energy. I missed that. So I set about making a change and getting myself back into a routine. I can’t say it’s perfect and I definitely do not work out as much as I used to. But it’s a start and a positive change. Here’s what has worked to get me back into a work out routine.
I Just Made Myself Start
Motherhood is exhausting, so the thought of expending extra energy to work out can be tough. But the truth is, once you are in motion you will continue to be in motion. And exercising actually does give you more energy. The hardest part is getting started, but once you begin you will feel the benefits and it will encourage you to keep going.
I Strive for Progress, Not Perfection
When I first committed to working out regularly, I worried that there was no way I’d be able to work out five times a week. How would I find the time? Then I remembered that I didn’t need to work out five times a week. I could work out three times, or maybe even once. It was still something.
Before having kids (and even when I had only one to take care of), my consistent goal was to work out five times a week. That worked for me then, but it doesn’t’ necessarily work for me now. And that’s OK. I’m at a different point in my life and if that means I can’t hit perfection with my workouts and instead can only sneak in a 15-minute bike ride here and there, that’s fine too.
I’m Flexible With Timing
I love working out in the morning. It sets my day up for success and makes me feel extra accomplished. I used to teach group fitness classes starting at 5:30 a.m. and thrived on that early morning gym buzz.
As I worked to find a new routine, my initial goal was to work out in the morning. Unfortunately, my baby had other plans. When I set my alarm for a 6 a.m. workout, that usually meant he’d wake up at 6:15 a.m. I didn’t want to commit to a 5 a.m. wake up, so I instead became more flexible.
If a morning workout happened, that was great. If it didn’t though, I fit it in later, usually around 8 p.m. Evening workouts are not my favorite, but I made it work. As much as I’d love to say you’ll enjoy your workout routine, sometimes it requires forcing yourself to workout when you’re not in the mood. I promise you still feel good after it and it’s worth it.
I’ve Made Dietary Changes
When I eat a healthy balanced diet, other things in my life tend to slide into place. I have more energy and I’m more motivated to extend the healthy habits into other areas of my life, like with an exercise routine. It also gets me to drink more water, get outside for walks, and to move my body more.
One healthy choice leads to another one. If I’m living on delivery food or grabbing for junk, that impacts my energy levels and desire to work out. For me, an important step of sticking to a work out routine is also changing my eating habits.
I Signed Up for a Challenge
Now this won’t be for everyone, but if you like to be challenged and to get your butt kicked a little bit, signing up for a specific challenge might help. Maybe it’s your own 30-day yoga challenge or training for a 5K, or it could be a challenge you pay for (which is what I did).
I had a 30-day workout challenge that served me up with specific workouts each day. It provided accountability as I had paid for the challenge and wanted to get my money’s worth. And though my level of commitment dropped a bit after the 30 days were up, it was an excellent way to kick-start my healthy habits and get myself going.
I Asked for Help
I love spending time with my kids and trust me, we spend a lot of time together. It can be hard to pull myself away from whatever we’re doing, but I’ve learned that I’ll feel a lot better if I take some time away from them to focus on me. And to do this, I must ask for help.
I try to plan this by telling my husband when I want to work out so he can takeover with the kids. I really do have to plan, otherwise the time can come and go and I’m still sitting in the basement playing with my kids. It can tough to pull yourself away and it can also be tough to ask for help. But it’s important to set aside time for you to do something that makes you healthier and happier. After a workout, I’m more excited to play with my kids as opposed to being distracted during our time together.
I Tracked My Progress
I love writing down my accomplishments and looking back to see what I’ve done. A workout tracker is an easy way to do this; like a Fitbit or Apple Watch.
Or simply search for a printable monthly calendar, print it out, and leave it somewhere handy. I keep mine on my desk and note which days I work out and for how long. It’s nothing fancy but it’s so great to look back at the end of the month to check my progress. Just this basic calendar makes me want to work out more regularly. Silly but true!
I Celebrated Victories Not Seen on the Scale
And finally, I encouraged myself to celebrate along the way. I’m not at my pre-baby weight and that is one of my goals (a reminder that you can want to lose the baby weight or not, it’s all perfectly fine!). But losing the weight after a baby can be a slow battle. So instead of focusing on the numbers and getting discouraged, I focus on non-scale victories to keep myself motivated. Some of my victories include lifting heavier weights, working out four times a week (some weeks!), getting outside for longer walks, fitting into jeans that haven’t fit in a few years, and simply feeling more like myself.
Have I totally cracked the code to working out as a mom? Perhaps not. Some weeks I still can’t get myself motivated. But most weeks I do. And most weeks I feel really good about my new routine. Getting into an exercise routine with two little ones is no easy feat. I’m not perfect, but I’m challenging myself and making myself a priority again. And that’s progress I can be proud of.