By Rosemary Marchese
Physiotherapist and mum of 3 fit kids
Exercise is not always easy for busy mums
So, when the media publishes a post that leads with ‘Mums who skip exercise have no excuse’ it’s bound to be great click-bait. And yes, the media was talking about me. For a start, even I have the days where I ‘skip exercise’! Of course busy mums have the ‘I can’t be stuffed’ moments when it comes to exercise! I know first-hand because I have them! And I have them often! The people who know me best know that I am your relatively normal suburban mum…running around after three kids, working and trying to get that right ‘work-life blend’. I don’t always get it right (what’s ‘right’ anyway?) and I have never claimed to.
I have the ‘I can’t be stuffed’ moments too!
Here is my main point. Most of the time I try to practice healthy, rather than unhealthy life habits. Because I have these habits in place I can get back on track relatively quickly when I fall off the bandwagon with my health and fitness because life has gotten too busy or too stressful. When I ‘can’t be stuffed’ exercising or making a healthy meal I acknowledge and try to work out why. If it is literally because the day is too jam-packed I may skip an exercise session, make the session shorter or make it less intense. And yes, we may have a take-away meal too!
I give myself options. If this carries on for a while then I take some time to readjust my life. You see, I’m trying to be here for when my kids get older too, not just being here for them now. I want to see my grandchildren grow up. I want to be here and be healthy in this one life we have been given. The science backs me up. Without fitness, even if you are a ‘normal weight’ (so, no I am not weight- bashing or mum-shaming) your metabolic profile could be very unhealthy. In fact, I would highly recommend you have a chat with your doctor to make sure your health is going the way you would like it to!
Here’s my next point. While it may be hard to hear, the reality is your kids are watching. I have seen too many people die an early death and leave behind a grief-stricken family because of ill-health. While maybe not all, a lot of those people may have been saved, at least for some years, if they had participated in some moderate intensity exercise. I’m not talking Olympic-athlete fit (great if you are). I’m talking a walk around the block and getting some squats in from time-to-time (squats at the clothesline anyone?). Or catching up with friends during a walk rather than a coffee. Playing soccer with your kids at the local park.
I’ve had those moments where the sleep deprivation is zapping every last bit of energy and exercise is the last thing on my mind. I’ve been in ambulances with a kid several times (with one child with severe allergies this is bound to happen unfortunately) and seen broken bones. I’ve had the three kids at home with one projectile vomiting down the wall (nice from the top of a bunk bed!) while another is in the bathroom unwell while the nausea started to hit me too. Oh yeah, quite often this would be the time my hubby was working 14 hour days on top of the two hour commute he did. All this while I ‘worked from home’ while the kids were ‘asleep’ (count how many hours that all three kids under 4 were asleep and you may wonder where my sleep came in). I’m not saying my life is any tougher than anyone else’s. Quite the opposite. In fact, I know there are mums (yes, and dads) out there doing it really tough. I’ve seen it. Illness, financial ruin and more. These are really tough moments. Even years. These are not the times to start ultra-marathon events. These are the times to just step back and take note of those little health habits that could make the day a little easier. It may be the time to focus on stretching and relaxation and eating healthy meals. That could be all you have time or energy for and that’s okay.
Some of you may think that working from home is ‘easier’ and others may disagree. I sit on both sides of that fence because there are positive and negatives to working from home and working outside the home when it comes to looking after your health. Working from home is also not everyone’s preference! I’ve done both and I still do both. I like it this way and I recognise that everyone’s life is different.
That’s my final point. Don’t judge others circumstances and don’t believe all inflammatory headlines in the media. My message is about trying to inspire mums to take care of themselves as best they can within the limits of their own life. Everyone’s life path changes over time. What works in terms of health and fitness at one time may not work at another time. Be kind to yourself and to others. I started my blog and wrote my book of healthy habits and workouts to inspire mums and answer so many of the questions I have been asked by busy mums over the past 20 years of being in the fitness industry but also my past 11 years of being a mum.
There’s no mummy-shaming or fat shaming. Just facts and inspiration. But mostly I do this because I know my kids are watching and (hopefully) being inspired…and if that’s the only inspiration that I can achieve in one day then I say I have a win.