After I had kids, I felt like any type of self-care flew out the window for awhile. Exhaustion, milk soaking my shirt, and getting enough food were the constant of most of those early days. What I didn’t realize was that if I had started some form of exercise a little sooner, I would have had more energy (a little sooner as in within the first year!). Sure, I would still feel like a zombie from sleep deprivation, but my body wouldn’t have felt so sluggish.
I’m not big on super rigorous types of exercise. Or monotonous types of workouts on a treadmill or in a gym. I needed something that connected me with other energy boosters like nature and my inner-self. I know, sounds a little woo. But plain ol’ exercise just to exercise bores me and I won’t stick with it if it’s not enjoyable or serving a deeper purpose beyond just physical changes.
Another obstacle with exercise is the kids. It often feels like we don’t have time to workout. Or we might not have the opportunity to workout without kids. So some modifications are required. Like including the child/ren somehow.
Creative ways to stay active after having kids
I’m not much of a runner. I usually feel like I’m dying if I run very far. But I can get down with a long jog. I still feel like I’m dying, but a little less so. I never jog alone. Mostly because I’m rarely ever alone. When I had one kid, we used a fixed wheel jogging stroller. I really loved this one. We used it for a good couple of years. The brakes were awesome on it and the hand brake was a nice touch. It was also affordable and super sturdy. It folded down flat and was easy to get around. Just be aware of the fixed front wheel. It doesn’t turn, so it is meant for jogging and running. I attempted maneuvering it around a shopping center a few times and it was ridiculous.
Once I had two kids, we needed some form of double jogging stroller. We have a Phil & Ted tandem stroller.. It’s great for trips to the zoo or around the block. We’ve jogged with it plenty, but it’s still a huge pain in the behind because the brakes are terrible. There is no hand brake and the foot brake requires two people to get it to unlock. Maybe that’s just our specific one though. I don’t know if it’s actually intended for jogging, but it has served us decently well for regular jogs for 2.5 years.
Our next jogging stroller investment will be this beautiful Bob beast right here. It also has a fixed wheel and will be able to carry the kids, even the older ones, for a good while. It recommends up to 105 pound weight limit. My 6 year old could probably walk or jog for awhile, but there is no way that he would be able to keep up for a long time and us all make it home with our sanity.
I was first introduced to jogging and the jogging stroller when I joined a jogging mamas meetup when my first born was an infant. A bunch of moms with babies and toddlers showed up and all ran together. It was great to see other adults and motivate each other to get moving.
I love yoga. I’ve done yoga at home for awhile. Or at least attempted it with little monkeys jumping on my back. We’ve been enjoying Cosmic Kids Yoga on YouTube. But it’s geared towards the kids. If you can swing it, join a yoga studio. Even going once or twice a week is so incredibly rejuvenating. And it moves and stretches your body while centering your mind. It’s a beautiful experience. I have this yoga mat and really love it. There are thinner, stickier mats, but they are made from PVC and other chemicals.
Swimming is a great form of exercise that is gentle on the body. Water is healing for me. The feel of it against my hands and how it cradles you. It’s pretty magical. If you have younger kids, swimming laps won’t really work unless you have someone to supervise them while you are occupied. When it’s just me and the kids, my oldest uses an awesome little chest vest that allows him independence while Swimming. I pull my 2 year old around in giant circles by “running” in the water. The resistance and movement definitely gets your heart rate up.
The act of hiking will give you a nice workout. There are so many different places and terrains to hike. If you have kids, you can go on kid-friendly hikes or wear them on more rigorous hikes. We love to find trails that lead to views or water. Mostly water. I’m too paranoid to hike with the kids in places that require constant vigilance. And a lack of that vigilance equaling death from falling off a cliffside. But that’s just me. I know lots of families that do bigger hikes and have incredible experiences.
Geocaching could fall under hiking too. But it adds a level excitement to the experience. Hiking at the beach, visiting national parks, and exploring different trail systems in your city are other great hiking options.
Some other ideas are rock climbing, cycling (they have awesome kid bike trailers), beach cycling, kite-flying, dancing, or even babywearing while shopping or walking.
All it takes is a little creativity and prioritizing to get moving and to feel good. Exercise can improve your mood and mental health, increase your lifespan, help you lose or maintain your weight, protect you from a zillion bad things, and boost your energy and productivity. It’s worth it to find activities that you love that also get you on your feet.