I know, I know. Moms have a ton on their plates already. Moms who work outside the home have more. Single moms have more. There are a lot of kinds of moms out there who already have a ton to stay on top of without needing someone to give them a list of exercises to make time for, too, but I’m putting these out there as things that should help make life a little easier—not harder!
- Work your lower abs / pelvic floor. If you’ve had a baby, your abs and pelvis have been put through a lot, even if you had a Caesarian delivery. Prioritizing this area for regular exercise will help with whole-body strength (strong core = strong body), urinary tract health and sexual function/pleasure. On the light end, regular Kegels will help tighten and maintain the pelvic floor. Moving towards intermediate, there are a lot of great lower abs exercises in the realm of mat Pilates. Pelvic bridges, with or without added weight, are a great place to start. When your lower abs are strong enough to do leg lifts without accidentally working your lower back, go for it. (Please keep in mind that these recommendations are for moms, but not chosen for moms who have just given birth. Always include your healthcare provider in your fitness plans!)
- Get some cardio in. Whether you get your cardio kicks by running, hitting the elliptical, joining a team sports league, biking, or whatever else floats your boat, the benefits you’ll see in your parenting will emerge at least in your stamina while chasing the kiddos and likely in your mood management thanks to the regular release of endorphins.
- Develop a regular yoga practice. The research keeps adding benefits to the list of reasons to do yoga. As a parent, the mood modulating benefits, stress reducing benefits, immune-boosting benefits and sleep-improving benefits might be the ones you’ll appreciate the most, but that’s just four areas from a list of 38 that Yoga Journal put together.
- “Mommy and Me” anything. It’s so important to help your kids develop a healthy lifestyle and a healthy self-image at the same time. “Mommy and Me”-type classes are a great way to encourage both—you’re modeling, encouraging and facilitating exercise while creating an opportunity to talk about the value and importance of good choices and the many different ways healthy bodies can look and operate.
- Group anything. One of the things I hear from most moms I work with is that they can feel very lonely and isolated when their lives orbit around their responsibilities. Joining a group exercise class (a lot of gyms have childcare- bonus!), a stroller-walking class, a running club or any other group exercise activity that fits in your schedule will not only give you the benefits of regular workouts but will also guarantee that you’ll get to see and interact with other adults about something other than kids/work on a consistent schedule.
Here’s the thing: exercise isn’t easy for a lot of people to fit into their busy schedules, whether or not kids are in the mix. But if you think about the airplane safety videos that tell us to put our own oxygen masks on before helping dependents, that principle applies when it comes to self-care. If you aren’t taking good care of yourself, it will directly affect your ability to care well for the other people in your life. What I’m hoping I’ve given you here are some clear guidelines about what to make time for most immediately (if you needed that kind of guidance)—and options that will benefit you on more than one level, because modern moms are multi-taskers.
If you love the ideas here but don’t know how to get started, don’t think they’re the exact right fit for your situation or want more information on any level, drop me a line! I’d love to help you work out the right plan for you!