Ouch. Tough question. Not meaning to offend but really many mums raising children today need to have a long, hard think about the reality of their lives. Think about who you were before you had children. Now think about who you are now. Do you still exist as a person or merely just as a manager in the process of rearing children?
Don’t get me wrong…as a mum of three, I absolutely adore my children and being a mum is the most rewarding part of my life. But I exist as my own entity as well. I train. I have a career. I have a life partner. I have friends. None of this comes along for free. It all takes work. The sad thing I see however is that many mums don’t make the time for themselves. Or should I say they don’t ‘take’ the time for themselves. One of the first things to go is exercise and health.
There seems to be some pre-conceived idea inherently just built into a new mum that says her life as an individual human being is over. And exercise? Well, how could you be so selfish? Um, hello! Taking time to exercise is a NECESSITY, not selfish. From the many conversations I have had with mums the focus is so much on ‘enjoying their younger years’ and ‘not wanting to miss a thing’ and ‘there is just no time’. There seems to be a momentary lapse of realization that motherhood is for life. No 30 year old child wants to see their 50 or 60 year old parent die from heart disease or cancer. Guess what? Your CHILD will still be YOUR CHILD when they are 5, 15, 40 and so on. And they will want you around for that!
Yes, you will put on some level of reasonable weight with pregnancy and yes, you do need to be nice to yourself as you try to regain your figure while you are zombie-eyed and energy-zapped from lack of sleep from the 24 hour demands of a newborn. But there are ways to make it happen and I am convinced that it MUST happen. Mums need to set an example from day 1.
THE RULE: Mum exercises. Mum’s health is VERY important.
No matter how you look at it there’s always going to be a potential excuse. Find a solution. Walk with the pram. Find a great crèche in a gym. Join an exercise group. Do whatever it takes to make it happen. I am also a strong believer that mums should try to allow some time for themself to get back into shape after having a baby before having another. I know this is always possible so hold yourself back from slamming down in the comments section. Think about it. How many times have you heard or even discussed amongst friends, colleagues or families the weight gain of a particular mother. ‘Oh, but she has had three kids’ is a common excuse that comes to mind. While your body will be completely different after pregnancy (and I will completely vouch for the fact that it may never be the same again – sorry ladies) you CAN find a way to get your body fat levels down to a safe and healthy state.
Long term build up of body fat, especially around the tummy area, is REALLY UNSAFE. The Heart Foundation recommends a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise on most, if not all days of the week, to achieve health benefits. Guess what? That means a power walk, not a marathon. That’s it. You can even start with shorter bouts of say, 10 minutes and accumulate your exercise during the day. As a mum I find the best time for me to exercise is first thing…that way it’s done. I often come back home as my children are rising and they know mum has been out having a workout. That surely can only be a good example, can’t it?