By Dawn Sim
What usually happens to a woman’s figure and her fitness level once she has a kid, or several children? Typically she would gain weight, become less fit, look more tired out and have less energy. And usually, the reason would be that there isn’t any time.
As a mother to four children aged one, five, nine and 10, I can understand how mothers feel that it is important to take care of the needs of my children before my own. As a working mother and business owner, I can relate to how time management can be challenging and finding the time to work out can actually be “mission impossible”.
As a parent whose spouse is deployed overseas for a couple of years and has to bring up my children without help from their dad physically, I can relate to how difficult it can be to not have your partner there to help with teaching and caring for the kids.
So how can you make working out regularly possible when you have kids? With a little creativity, grit and a lot of positivity, this can definitely be done on frequent if not daily basis. Our bodies were meant to move daily and it isn’t just about losing the weight or looking great. More importantly, it’s about being a great caregiver and setting an example for our children to take responsibility for their health and wellness.
I don’t have the luxury of fitting in an hour of exercise on a daily basis. Sometimes all I manage is just 20 minutes a day, and this is sometimes broken down into pockets of five minutes but done at a higher intensity.
So how do I creatively fit in exercise when I have four kids who need my attention, especially on the weekends when I sometimes have to work?
My solution is including them into my routine. For example, I might put my baby into the stroller and get my three older kids to jog around the estate with me. Other times I create a circuit that includes movements that they can do while I carry the baby and used her as a sandbag or resistance to do squats, lunges and sit ups while carrying her in my arms or in a baby carrier. I have also done swimming exercises with my baby placed securely in a baby float as I do my kicking drills.
There is an endless number of activities and exercises you can do together with your children as long as you have a ‘can-do’ attitude. Approach working out with a mindset that it’s a time that you get to bond with your little ones and teach them the importance of staying active.
Here are a few simple exercises that you can do together with your baby:
A. Squats with baby
Works the thighs, hips, and glutes (buttocks)
1. Carrying baby securely across your chest or with him/her in a baby carrier against your chest, take your feet to hip width distance apart and toes slightly turned out.
2.As you inhale lower your hips backwards and down into a squat. Try not to let your knees go past your toes and try to work towards lowering your hips to knee height.
3.Perform 15 repetitions of the squats and repeat for 3 rounds in total.
For an older child, have him or her stand in front of you and hold hands with him or her as you perform the squats together.
B. Sit ups with baby
Works the abdominals
1. Place baby between your feet with your knees bent. If you have an older child, he or she can help to hold down your feet with his knees.
2. Each time you perform a sit up you can give your child a kiss or a high five. you can also give your baby a peek-a-boo or funny face each time you sit up.
3. Perform 3 rounds of 20 repetitions in total.
For an an older child, you can hook your feet together and perform the sit-ups together, giving one another a high five with each rep.
C. Side lunges with baby
Works the thighs, side abdominals (obliques), back and arms
1. Bring your feet to one body length apart while carrying baby with your arms extended.
2. Turn your toes out to the right and lower baby slowly towards your right foot, lightly touch the ground with his or her toes. Ensure that your back is not rounded and your abs are engaged.
3. Repeat on the left but this time turn your toes out to the left side.
4. Carry out this movement for 10 repetitions on each side and repeat for 3 rounds in total.
For an older child, have him or her stand facing you to do the side lunges but lunge in opposite directions. Each time you meet in the centre, you could also give one another a high-five.
Dawn Sim is the studio director and co-founder of local yoga studio Trium Fitness, and she is certified in nutrition and wellness by the American Fitness Professionals and Associates, and the Institute for Integrative Nutrition from the United States. For more information on Trium Fitness, click here or follow Dawn’s Instagram (@thatmomoffour)