I think the word “Mom” is synonymous with “busy.” Saying someone is a “busy mom” is redundant, don’t you think?
Sorry, but I’m going to encourage you to get busier.
How can I — a man — identify with a mom’s schedule and how it can be adapted to include lots of exercise? Well, I’m married to one of those busy moms, and she makes lots of time to exercise. And doing so makes her an even more awesome mom because it makes her healthier and happier.
The first thing you have to do is get over the guilt.
I know that moms want to be super-women. They put everyone else ahead of themselves to make sure kids, husband, parents, friends and even the dog have what they need. That means they put themselves last, and it’s not good for their health.
But here is the thing: by putting yourself first sometimes, you get better at all that other stuff. When you look after your own health — when you make it a top priority — the positivity rolls downhill in a good way.
Let’s start off with why you should take some me time to exercise:
You’ll have more energy: This is a big one. My wife and I like to do fun stuff with our kids, and our active lifestyles give us the energy to do this. What’s more, at the end of the day, when a lot of other people are wiped and just want to collapse into the couch and watch something mindless on television, we’re still ready to go and keep on parenting. If the kids need help with homework, or want us to play a game, or are in need of some serious tickling, we’ve got the energy to do it. You can gain this energy too.
You can also get stronger and more physically capable, so that throwing kids into pools, paddling them in a sea kayak, or chasing them through a sprinkler all becomes easier.
You’ll be around longer: Here’s a sobering thought: How can you look after your family if you’re dead?
If you work on improving your health, you can dramatically increase your life expectancy so that you’re there for the kids, the grandkids, and even the great-grandkids.
You’ll be less stressed: Moms who are stressed out can be a little grouchy. Dads too, of course. Stress can make us hard to live with, and exercise is a proven stress reliever. It boosts mood and makes you a happier person. You’ll be a lot more fun to be around if you become a regular exerciser. Not to say that you’re not fun now; you’ll just be even more fun.
You’ll get a chance to do something for you: Exercising with the family is fun, but there is also a lot of value in doing it by yourself or with a friend. When you’re with husband and kids you’re still in “Mom mode,” and getting away from that can give you a valuable opportunity to recharge your body and your brain.
You’ll become a role model: Childhood obesity rates are skyrocketing, and it’s not the kids’ fault. Parents are the ones who have to control this, and getting active is an important first step in getting control of your eating behaviours. Exercise can act as a gateway behaviour to better eating. Not only can you becoming a workout warrior get the rest of the family to adopt exercise, it can result in dramatic changes in what everyone eats in your family as well. Everyone’s health will benefit.
How to pull it off
I’m a big fan of planning. You’ve got to think your way through this, and it is an axiom of time management that if everything is a priority, then nothing is. You’ve read the above, and you hopefully realize now that this should be one of your top priorities. So, if it’s a top priority, you will find the time. Sit back and think about where the holes in your schedule are, and start working in regular bouts of activity.
And get help from your family. You can do some exercises with them, but they need to help you by doing things like becoming more independent so you get your alone time as well. There is power in open and honest communication, as well as quid pro quo. My wife and I do tag-team parenting to exercise regularly, and it works for us. We figure out how we get to spend time as a family but also get our alone time to exercise. The kids are very understanding too, as they’ve been educated on how important this is.
So start having this conversation with the people you love so they understand how important it is and how they need to help you take me time to exercise.
And then start moving.
James S. Fell, MBA, is a certified strength and conditioning specialist in Calgary, AB. He writes the column “In-Your-Face Fitness” for the Los Angeles Times and consults with clients on strategic planning for fitness and health. Get a free metabolism report at www.bodyforwife.com. Email James at firstname.lastname@example.org.