One of the things I seem to be getting asked the most is what my workout regime has been like with little bub in tow – For most mums out there, I don’t think it’s a matter of what to do in terms of exercise but how exactly one goes about exercising when you can hardly tear yourself away from your little one. So I thought I’d write down a few tips on what helped me kick start my postpartum workout regime.
Sample of weekly activities also attached under the cut.
Tips on HOW to stay active when you’re a Mother
1. Be on the same page as your husband
- A lot of my success so far in terms of getting back to a semblance of my former self in terms of fitness and well-being is owed to the supportiveness of my husband. Of all people, Andrew knows what it’s like to bottle up frustration and how it is a lot healthier to let it all out by going for a good workout. Healthy dose of endorphins and all that. So when I feel I need his help because I’m getting too tired, he chips in.
- For example, I am currently doing all the middle-of-the-night feeds since I’m on maternity and he is working. But yesterday, I felt completely and utterly deflated. My emotions were running wild and I felt incredibly depressed from exhaustion. So I told him about it and he knew it was time I got a proper night’s rest. As such, he undertook all the feeds for last night and I slept as much as I could. Today, I feel like new again and able to reclaim all my duties tonight. I also feel like I have enough energy in the tank to go for a run later after my little girl goes to bed.
2. Accept help when it is offered
- This piece of advice was given to me by my childhood friend who has two kids herself. As hard as it is to let go and not be a Nazi mum, sometimes it really is best to let someone else take over when you are running on empty. Even if they’re not doing things the way you would prefer them to. I guess this tip actually feeds through into everything else in Motherhood and not just the exercise portion. But I felt it was an important tip nevertheless – ‘coz in order to stay fit and keep active, you need to have fuel in the tank to begin with. And that’s not going to happen unless you’re able to accept whatever help is around you, no matter how little.
3. When grandparents are around, try to let go and use your time wisely
- For about a month or so now, I have left Naomi at my parents place every Tuesday and Thursday for a few hours. It was incredibly hard for me to do this at first but as the whole ‘going back to work’ thing is just around the corner, I had to somehow start letting go. At first, I would bring her over and then find it hard to tear away to go do my own thing. But then I realized that I really wasn’t doing her any favours by sticking around. I mean, she’s going to be alone with my grandparents when I’m at the office and for much longer hours too. So it was important to me that they start forging a comfortable relationship sooner rather than later. Plus the grandparents are all besotted with her anyway!
- Some days I don’t even feel like being out and about and I’d much rather just be home with her. But I just try to schedule things on these days to keep myself busy so that she’s able to have quality time with her grandparents. As such, these are almost always workout days too. And since I won’t get the chance to be out in the sun much once I go back to work, I’ve been using these days for swimming and running.
4. Exercise after 7pm
- Every night, Naomi gets put down for bed at 7pm sharp – sometimes earlier if she’s having a bit of a grizzly day. This is the portion of the day that Mummy me-time kicks in for me, whether it is to have a glass of wine, surf on the computer or get a workout in. Obviously you need to establish when this is according to your baby’s sleep pattern, but what I’m saying is that as tempting as it is to just have a bath and relax, you just need to pluck yourself up and go do something.
- And this is where the next tip comes in handy.
5. Have an exercise buddy
- Almost every single woman I know is always trying to lose weight or look better. So jump on that opportunity and get yourself a workout buddy!
- At the moment, the husband is getting me to do intervals in the evening. It is a chance for him to get his workout in as well whilst I do mine – after bub goes to sleep. Friend A is training for her first marathon and Friend B wants to lose weight and feel more energized, so I have invited them along. The group workout makes us all feel happy and then we sit down for dinner together after, so I also get some adult-interaction time in the evening which is oh so good!
- If your exercise buddy is your husband, even better. It’s a bit of a building block to keeping your marriage on track after baby as well. Just plan your activities together when baby has gone to bed – if you’re able to leave the house anyway! We usually make sure Nae is fast asleep before we hand the baby monitor to Satinah and leave home. She dream feeds at 10.30pm so it’s always a pretty safe bet that she’ll stay asleep till we get back!
6. Take turns
- One thing Andrew and I have had to learn how to do is to take turns. We used to go on rides together on weekends but it just isn’t fair for us to leave baby at home alone for so long and not spend quality time with her. So on Saturdays and Sundays, he wakes up at 5am and meets his friends for a good bike ride – I spend the morning with Nae getting her fed, bathed etc and by the time he gets home at 9am, she’s going down for a nap.
- This is when I pass the baton over to Hubba and get ready for my own workout. The husband is very supportive and sometimes helps me get ready (pumping my tires, putting my shoes and socks out for me etc) so I am able to get out the house quick and in time to meet my friends at 10am.
- On Saturdays, I have tried to get myself out for a mountain bike ride with said Friend A and husband. And on Sundays, I meet Friend B at the nature reserve to go on a long hike.
- I am also mindful that Andrew doesn’t get to spend much time with Naomi during the week, so I don’t interfere and let him have quality time with her on these mornings. At least with this in mind, I stop worrying about getting home quickly as well!
7. Keep an exercise log
- Always encouraging to see how you’re progressing!
So that’s how I do it so far.
I know I’m pretty lucky to have a supportive husband, parents, in-laws and of course, to have a helper that I trust. Although Satinah isn’t entrusted to care for Naomi as part of her job description, it definitely helps that I don’t need to worry about non-baby related chores and I also feel okay leaving her when she’s settled and asleep.
As for the actual workouts, I try to get at least 4 – 5 good workouts in per week. This is coupled by a diet which includes:
- A big breakfast – giving me energy for the day
- A snack before workout if workout is before lunch
- A big enough carbo-loaded lunch
- Another tea-time snack if I am working out in the evening
- A carb-less dinner with more meat and veg