Good morning and Happy Monday mommas! Sara, our Mom Fitness Contributor, is back this month to talk to us about a word that is sometimes my worst enemy… time. It can be difficult making time for fitness…especially as a busy mom.
I’m pretty sure if you asked anyone what their biggest foe is when it comes to any fitness routine (or life routine for that matter) they would answer with one simple word: Time.
Whether you’re a parent or not, time is a hot commodity.
If you’re lucky, you might be someone with too much time on your hands. If you’re like most people, you probably find yourself saying, ‘if only there were more hours in the day.’
Before I became a mom, I never really put much stock into the concept of time. The only things I really had to worry about were my job, my marriage, playing roller derby, and working out; some of which could be moved around to create any schedule I needed for that day. If I couldn’t workout before work, I went after school. If I had a meeting that was okay because I could just go to the gym later. If I had derby practice until nine at night, no biggie, I would simply go to bed later that night. If my husband and I wanted to go on an impromptu date night, we just went.
I didn’t have to worry about snack time, play time, nap time, bed time, meal time, cuddle time, and I didn’t have to worry about a small human being completely dependent on my time for survival.
Before I became a mom, I used to listen to friends say that having children made it so hard to make it to the gym or do things that needed to be done. I would smile, listen politely, but internally I would be saying to myself that those were just excuses, if they wanted to they would. I know, harsh. Judge me all you want, but you have to admit you’ve probably said the same thing at one time or another in your life.
Then, I became a mom.
And I understood what my friends were talking about.
Not having enough time really was a genuine problem.
I didn’t notice it at first, the lack of time, because I was too busy enjoying being with my daughter, cuddling, napping, playing and learning to be a mom.
You all know what happened next though…. That feeling of a lack of time crept up on me and whacked me over the head.
For me, it made its appearance in the form of overwhelming anxiety.
I found myself as a stay-at-home-mom who couldn’t find the time during the day to do simple tasks like unload the dishwasher (I quickly became an expert at dish Jenga), do laundry (I just pretend like I never left a load of laundry in the washer for two days), vacuum the dog fur sweater my floors started wearing, and, oh yeah, working out or spending any amount of time on myself.
At first, my husband and I tried our best at ‘winging’ it. Our gym doesn’t offer childcare so while I would go workout he would watch her and then we would switch. Sounds like an awesome plan, right? It was, for a while, until just getting our workout in took up four hours of the morning and we found ourselves not even being ready to tackle the day’s errands/chores until noon or one o’clock. If you’re good at ‘I have a kid math’, this left only about five-ish hours until we had to be home for dinner, bath, and bedtime. Oh, and don’t forget, we needed to fit nap time within those five hours.
We got pretty good at the down-n-dirty grocery shopping trips, escapes to lunch, and other errand running. But, we knew it couldn’t last forever because we were would be exhausted and in bed as soon as the baby went to sleep. There were nights were going to bed when the sun was still up.
My husband is a fireman which means he doesn’t work the typical work-day/work-week. Any workouts, chores, or fun things I needed or wanted to get done became dependent on his schedule. As a new mom, just getting ready in the morning with an infant felt like an Olympic sport; laundry, dishes, cleaning the house, forget about it. My daughter also flat-out refused taking a bottle which made dropping her off at a babysitters for anything longer than two and a half hours impossible.
Everything revolved around time.
How long could I be gone? How long would this take? How long before she needs a nap? How long would she actually nap? How long will it take me to work out? How long…. The list goes on and on.
Can you sense my anxiety while you read this?!
It was nuts. I knew I had to fix it.
I narrowed it down to the two things that caused me the most anxiety: household chores and fitness.
First, I had figure out how to overcome a house that refused to clean itself. I knew I would feel less overwhelmed (and guilty) if I could solve this problem. (We all know the days of just taking a few hours once a week to clean the house uninterrupted were long gone.) Thanks to Pinterest, I found a great daily cleaning schedule that helped split up the household chores into daily one hour chunks. I know, I know, I give you full permission to laugh at me here for actually needing, searching for, and using a cleaning schedule. I used to pin nifty cleaning schedules and think, ‘who actually needs one of these’. You know who needed one, ME! You know what else, it worked and to this day I find myself still following the same cleaning plan. Even if I miss a few days (or weeks) and my floors go back to their fur-sweater wearing days, I simply look at the plan, do those chores for the day, and move on. No more guilt. No more anxiety.
Second, I had to tackle the whole working out fiasco. Fitness is extremely important to me. I wanted my body back (and to feel less wimpy, remember). Plus, working it gave me an outlet for stress which makes for a happier mom and wife. Not working out wasn’t an option. With my husband’s schedule and the lack of gym childcare, I knew I had to workout when he was home or I had to be home before he needed to leave for work. With the baby’s non-use of bottles, I knew I had to be fast and no diddle-dallying was allowed. My solution: go to the gym directly after my daughters 3:30 am feeding. Yup, you read that correctly. I drug myself to the gym and started working out by 4:30 am, five to six times a week. I also planned and wrote every single workout to be done and have me home by the latest at 6:15 am. As hard as it was to wake up that early and have the energy to lift heavy objects, it was a plan that worked.
I quickly found myself being a morning person and I looked forward to getting in an amazing workout while most of the world slept.
Third, I had to solve the problem of ‘what if I can’t make it to the gym because _____’. My solution: at-home workouts. C’mon, I know all of you have some sort of at-home fitness DVD system that could work if you are in a pinch. (I still have my Billy Bank’s boot camp DVD’s if you find yourself lacking from a random infomercial purchase.) I’m pretty sure my Insanity and P90X DVD’s have gotten more use since before I had a baby. Plus, having your baby laughing at you while you attempt to keep up with Shaun T doesn’t suck.
By the time my daughter was five months old, I was in my mom groove. It felt great to finally feel like I had my stuff together. The anxiety was better, not gone, but much better. I finally got to the point where the schedule didn’t have to be so ridged, things could slide by, and I wouldn’t break down into a puddle of stressed-out mommy tears. (Tears only happen occasionally now.)
As I continue on this journey of motherhood, I realize that schedules and fitting it all in will always be an ever-changing challenge. I’ve also realized that you have to prioritize your time as a mom. Not every spare moment you have has to be dedicated to the baby or cleaning or whatever else seems to be taking center stage.
You have to make yourself a priority as well. If you want to go workout, make time for it. If you want to go enjoy a coffee or an unaccompanied shopping trip to Target, make time for it. If you want to just lay on the couch and catch up on trashy TV or Netflix, make time for it.
Being a ‘fit’ mom isn’t just about being physically fit, it’s about being mentally fit as well.
86, 400 seconds.
We all have the same amount of time in a day.
No matter what we do, the time will pass anyways.
Waste it wisely.
Light and Love,
All of the lovely photography in this post was done by the talented Bailey Carlin (Sara’s cousin). You can find her on Instagram and Pinterest.