Working Out After Babies: How to Find the Time
SO, you had a baby. I'm guessing if you're anything like my husband and I, your world has kind of flipped. Two and a half years ago, we met our first baby Maxwell. He came out as such a little firecracker. Crying SO much at night that one time we called the after hours clinic. We had tried every swish, swaddle, sway, sush technique under the sun and this babe was still screaming at the top of the lungs. Endlessly.
I'll never forget the nurse saying, "Call back if he cries for 4 more hours." Wait, wft? It is just "normal" for babies to cry for 3 hours and you want us to wait until he has been crying 7 hours?!
All of that to say that we understand difficult babies. When we met our second son this past November (cue the mama tears that he is almost 1), we had to relearn a new life balance. We now had two little guys demanding our time and attention. I can happily report that he was less zesty as his older brother. Thank the good Lord above that this one didn't cry for endless hours...although he did his own version of the witching hour (about 1.5 hours).
Here are my tips for getting workouts in, no matter what type of baby you have or even if you are adding more littles to your family:
1. Understand Self Care Isn't Selfish:
It is no mistake that my first tip is about the mental side of things. I know that mamas can feel guilty for taking time to take care of themselves. I was constantly fielding messages that said, "How do you not feel guilty for going to workout?" The honest answer? I'd have lost my darn mind if I hadn't moved my buns and got a little break from the chaos. Our second baby Trey was born in November, in Wisconsin terms this means that we're heading into a long and cold winter. It also means that a lot of times it wasn't an option to bring him on my walks because it was just too cold for a newborn.
My strategy: I would often leave the house to go on a night walk. We live in a safe neighborhood and I embraced the cold. I put on an audiobook (suggestions for new mamas: Year of Yes or You're a Badass or Girl, Wash Your Face) and did a short walk around my neighborhood. Man, I would be completely reset when I got back. Ready to be a patient mama and patient wife. This works perfectly for the first 5 weeks of the postpartum guide, I’d just get my breathing and TA contractions in while Trey was practicing tummy time or snoozing.
I seriously DON’T have workout mom guilt. What better gift could I give my husband and children than a healthy me? Working as both a personal trainer and a nurse I can tell you that your health is everything, it shouldn’t be taken for granted and it does have to be worked for.
I know some people are neater than I, but I’d rather have a little bit of a messy house than lose my mind trying to get everything done and not leave time to take care of myself.
Take the time for yourself, it is SO crucial and SO good for your mental health. You will literally be a better mama, wife and person because of it.
2. Adjust, Adjust.
My husband Drew and I agree that one of the hardest things about parenting is the unpredictability. These babies have been sick, fussy, resisted a nap, are popping 3 teeth at the same time, etc. etc. etc. That is LIFE, that is PARENTING…it’s an unpredictable rollercoaster.
If I started an Expecting and Empowered workout and Trey woke up, I just put him right next to me. It's nice when they aren't mobile and kind of just stuck where they are. He typically was happy to watch me or play in his Kick N Play as I did my workout. Max was either at daycare (yes, we sent our older one to daycare 3 days a week so I could bond with the babe and because we didn't want him to get our of his routine) or napping.
If my “planned” workout time doesn’t happen to work, I adjust to a different time of day or adjust to a different day of the week. I don’t throw my hands in the air and think, “I’m screwed. I don’t have the time.” Rather, “Okay, today isn’t going to work. I’ll move my this workout onto Thursday which was my scheduled off day.”
My husband Drew also gets workouts in 4-5 days a week. He likes the early morning shift and I’m happy to let him have that. ;) If you also have a spouse that works out, just figure out what works best for both of you and SUPPORT the heck out of each other. I hate when one person thinks their workouts are in some way more important than the other person’s. Nah, we can both keep this a part of our lives…the question we have to answer together is HOW and WHEN. These questions have had different answers at different times or our parenting lives. Say a baby start to go to sleep later or wakes up earlier than he used to, we’ll have to figure out an adjustment that works for the family.
Just like anything in parenting, you might have to adjust. Don’t get stuck in a rut thinking that you’ll be able to perfectly plan and execute your workouts. SOMETHING is ALWAYS better than nothing. Maybe your baby wakes up and your cardio ends up being 20 minutes. That is 20 minutes better than if you skipped it completely.
3. Be a Weekend Warrior
Okay ladies, I don’t know if you are going to like this one. Hear me out, don’t throw popcorn at me yet. USE the weekend. Life is full and time is short, but on the weekend Drew and I are both off of work.
Almost every weekend I’m working out on both Saturday and Sunday. I do an Expecting and Empowered workout on both of those days because I’m able to go to the gym and get out of the house. I also love the heavier weight selection now that I’m a little bit stronger. ;)
This takes some of the PRESSURE of the week off. I go into the week thinking, OKAY…I started the week strong with a workout, I’ll for sure be working out on Saturday…I only need to pick one more day to do a lift? Easy peezy. That cardio you’re stressed about fitting in? That’s a pretty fast day for me. I can leave from my house and be back in 30 minutes. I can jump on the treadmill for some sprints. I can make that work.
Learn what works for you. Weekend workouts WORK for me. I LOVE that my two off days are going to be during our very full week.
4. Sleep is just as important.
Krystle laughs at me because I’m a little crazy about my sleep schedule. BUT, the proof is in the research and the research says that sleep can be the MOST important indicator of health and well being. Now, if you have a newborn…you probably want to slap me right now.
The questions I got about this subject were:
1) Do you adjust your workout plan if the baby had a rough night sleeping?
Probably not. Since having two kiddos the whole “nap when baby naps” thing was kind of out the window. Even on the days that Max went to daycare, my newborn wasn’t always taking long or predictable naps. SO, my first instinct wasn’t to nap myself. If you are SO tired you cannot even function, of course I would suggest napping while that babe naps.
I typically choose a nap time workout to boost my energy. If I’m dragging that day, I know that I will definitely get a energy boost from moving my buns and I promise myself that I’ll get in bed early. These are the days you’ll find my light out by 9:30pm. Even if there is a laundry in the drier that will need a refresh or a blog undone. I HAVE to get sleep.
Babies definitely get better at sleeping (hopefully, don’t throw popcorn if you just have one that is not a good sleeper). Eventually, they are more predictable and their sleep schedules are more supportive of an active mama.
2) How do you go to sleep if you do a bedtime workout?
I’ll just be very honest here: I’m a really good sleeper. I shower and hop in bed. I’m able to fall asleep annoyingly fast. If a nighttime workout keeps you up and gets your motor really running, maybe it just is NOT the right choice for you and you’ll have to take an early bird special. We’re all different, so it really is about finding what is right for you. When Trey was a newborn I would even do a workout right before dinner. Drew was home and could entertain the boys while I got a quick one in. I went to be SUPER early in his newborn days, so this is just what worked for that time period.
If your body is screaming for a nap, take a nap. Don’t you dare get caught up with Bachelor in Paradise and stay up late if your kiddo is still waking you up multiple times a night. Prioritize sleep!
5. Finding the Motivation At Home Workouts
If you follow me on Instagram you sure as heck know that my workout accommodations aren’t pretty. I workout in my unfinished basement with just the equipment I need to do the guide.
I can COMPLETELY understand why some of you with the same circumstance don’t find that motivating. BUT, I do my best to make it like going to the gym. I take my headphones down there. I blast Kanye Pandora or a Podcast. If at all possible, I don’t have a baby or toddler with me.
Listen, there are SO many things in life that are adjusted right now. Do I wish I could go to the gym for every workout? Sure! I LOVE the gym. BUT, I look at the positives. I save myself the commute, I can get it done SO fast, I’m giving myself the opportunity to be a less stressed and better version of ME. Sometimes a little tough love like, “Amy, you could be half way done with your workout before you are done with your sorry ‘I wish I could just go to the gym’ excuses. Get down there.” Just ignore that last sentence if you don’t love tough love. hahaha.
This was a TOTAL adjustment for me. I’m not the self proclaimed basement workout queen. I just put Kanye on to still feel somewhat young and cool. ;)
6. Give Yourself Grace
The world will not stop spinning on its axis if you miss a cardio day. It will, however, stop spinning on its axis if you miss an Expecting and Empowered day. KIDDING. In my professional opinion, I’d rather miss a cardio day than a lift day for my goals: a strong and lean frame. SO, if push comes to shove and a week is crazy…nothing is going to happen if I miss one workout. Don’t make it such a big deal and just strive to hit your goal the next week. Maybe it is truly not possible for you to get 5/7 days and you need to make 4/7 your mark.
We all have tough weeks (hello infant pneumonia last weeks), just get back in the saddle as soon as possible mama! You CAN do this.
I hope that was helpful for you guys. I’ve never been more consistent with my workouts in my entire life (yes, even when I was a collegiate runner) than I am right now. I just feel SO freaking good, happy and healthy and I know this is a key part of it.