This Runner's Trials
4Apr/1224

Fitting in exercise as a new mom

When Wyatt was a month old, I went to the gym. As I stepped off the treadmill, a fellow gym-goer approached me and we had a brief conversation.

Woman: "Didn't you just have a baby?!"

Me: "Yup, he's a month old now."

Woman: "And you're here?! Must be nice to have a baby who's sleeping so well."

Me: "Umm, it must be. But I wouldn't know…"

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The truth is, until this past weekend (knock on wood, knock on wood, knock on wood), I didn't have a baby who slept well at all. Never mind not sleeping through the night, he resisted going to bed for hours and regularly woke up 3, 4, or 5 times during the night.

Why did the lady at the gym assume Wyatt was sleeping so well? Because what kind of sleep-deprived new mom would spend whatever "free" time she found exercising instead of sleeping?

One who likes to workout, that's who. And one who knows that she needs to exercise for her sanity.

Still, people have asked me how I have the energy and time to train for a half marathon. (Yes, I am a stay-at-home mom, but SAHMs don't exactly have all the free time in the world. I've also been freelancing for 25-30 hours per week since February.)

I don't have a magic answer. I simply love to run. So, I find ways to fit it in.

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This means I often choose running over sleep (which isn't exactly smart). I figure if I'm going to be sleep deprived anyway, I may as well get some exercise, too (which is not exactly smart either, but it is what it is).

Here's how I fit in workouts (of course, I don't do all of this in one day):

  • Workout first thing in the morning. Wyatt (usually) wakes up between 5-6 a.m. to eat and then (usually) falls back to sleep for another 1.5 hours. After he eats, I burp him, put him in his crib, go pump (I've been blessed with a good supply so pumping before exercise is a must, even after a feeding), inhale coffee and a banana, and head out the door to run. I leave the freshly pumped bottle out so Jeff can feed Wyatt if he wakes up before I get home (it doesn't matter how long he sleeps for, he always wants to eat as soon as he wakes up). If I'm lucky, I can run, shower, and eat breakfast before baby is up for good.
  • Get moving with baby. I run with the jogging stroller about once a week. I'm too much of a wimp to do it any more often than that. We also head out for a walk almost every day.
  • Exercise while baby sleeps. Wyatt rarely naps for more than 30 minutes in his crib at once. That's not always enough time for an entire workout, but lifting weights or doing intervals for a few minutes beats no exercise at all.
  • Be active while baby plays. I'm trying to encourage more independent play. I realized a couple months ago that maybe it's not the best idea for me to always be in baby's face trying to entertain him. I lay Wyatt on his playmat, crank up the Wiggles tunes, and I grab my free weights while he grabs his toys.

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Honestly, the real reason I'm doing so well in the exercise department is because I'm really slacking off in other areas. After caring for Wyatt, my next priority is taking care of myself, which means running regularly. I'll let the laundry sit in the dryer or forget about cooking dinner yet again, if it means I can use that time being active. My body may be in pretty good shape, but I can't say the same for my house.

It also helps that my husband and I are on the same page. Exercise is just as much a priority for him as it is for me, so he has no qualms about waking up early and pitching in (he works out after work).

I'm always curious to hear how other new moms make time for physical activity. I still haven't taken Wyatt to the Y's childcare yet. It's on my to-do list!

Comments (24) Trackbacks (2)
  1. Love the Wyatt pics! He’s adorable. I think you’re a rock star for finding time to train for a half- WOW! I think the “secret” for any new mom is just what you described: finding your priorities and working your way down the list with the time you have. Like you, laundry isn’t at the top of my list :)

  2. I’m with you and Brittany – laundry definitely isn’t a priority for me either. :) I think one of the biggest challenges for new moms is letting go of the myth of perfection. We can’t “have it all” – and that’s okay. I may not have the cleanest house, but I do find time to work out – and that matters more to me! Thankfully my husband is okay with it too. :)

  3. Big kudos to you for being so determined about working out. I wish I was the same way. Unfortunately I haven’t found my groove with making time for exercise yet. I definitely need to though, especially since I have a 5K in a week and haven’t run more than a couple times since M was born. Yikes!

  4. Yes, kudos to you—I have been horrible about sticking with exercise since Emitt was born (and he’s almost 9 months—way too old for the “I just had a baby” excuse!) and I really, really miss it. I used to be a morning exercise person but now, I feel like I can barely get myself ready for work these days. I don’t know how to fit it all in yet, and hope to figure it out someday. For now, I am trying to fit it in when/where I can. You are inspiring me to try to get back into morning exercise, though.

  5. So cute! I’m totally with you….I let other things fall so that I can train. :) I have been a morning exerciser for years, but now I am even more fond of the early morning workouts. It is the time that I can usually count on having a sleeping baby. I don’t have help in the early morning so if he wakes up I have to bring him down with me or try to get him back to sleep. ;-)

  6. great post! i don’t know what kind of distances i’ll be running, but i definitely want to continue working out after pregnancy. it’s going to be really hard for me because during certain months, my husband has to leave the house before 5 am and doesn’t necessarily get back until late! but hopefully i’ll find some solution to make it work. [this is why i'm already researching treadmills, too! . . .]

  7. Good for you for getting your workouts in! You seem to have a good system down, so laundry or no laundry done, keep it up!

    It kind of annoys me when people give a little side-eye to new moms who make working out a priority. Sorry, folks, but I NEED at least 30 minutes of alone time a day, and it helps when I’m getting my sweat on during that time. I already feel a lot of mom guilt while I’m out, so please don’t make it any worse!

    And, to answer your wondering, we use a lot of the same tactics to get workouts in. My husband usually asks me each day what I have planned and will make sure to be home from work so he can take over Charlotte duties and I can go to the gym or run. Not quite sure how it’s going to change when I go back to work next week, but I’m determined to not let my fitness fall behind.

  8. I think having an active husband who understands is key. Not just when having a baby but just in general. I would cry if Bobby didn’t like being active/going to races with me, training with me, etc. i love that yall are on the same page. The house can wait!

  9. How does Wyatt do in the jogging stroller? I ask because I have a 4 month old and a BOB, but the BOB’s instructions say not to use it until they are 8 months old. That seems like a long time. Other recommendations have said holding head up and/or 6 months old. She holds her head up fine and is the size of a 6 month old…I’m just afraid of knocking her little head around. Thoughts?

    • Hi Marissa, I’m still running with the carseat adapter. BOB says not to run w/ the adapter though b/c it may tip over, but our pediatrician said it was fine as long as I keep both hands on the stroller at all times. This method works for now (especially b/c I only run w/ him for a max of 4mi, one time per week). I’ll likely wait until he’s closer to 6mos to put him directly in the stroller. I know other moms have put their babies in the stroller part before 6mos, and have worked out a safe system. You may want to check w/ Ashley at neverhomemaker.com. Good luck!

      • Ha! I just realize I could have looked more closely at the pic you posted and answered my own question. Thanks for responding! I think we are going to hold off for awhile. I did try last weekend and had a brain fart and overfilled the tires to the level I would fill my bike tires…3x what the BOB wheels need. All three tubes popped 7 minutes into my run. It was a major fail!

  10. I just had my second baby, a girl, on January 30th…so I am about 9 weeks post baby! My son just turned two…so….I definitely have my hands full! I try and run with the double jogger three times a week and I have turned my sunroom into an exercise area…which I use to do circuit workouts four times a week. I have learned that any exercise is good exercise….it may not be what I am use to, but I’ll take it! I also have a very needy dog, a labradoodle, named Dexter! I always call him my trainer because he insists on a walk daily. My motto is: if it’s important to you, you will find a way….if it’s not, you will find an excuse. Good luck on your half!

    • Congrats on your baby! Our lab mix is the same way. If I don’t walk him, he’ll just stare at me all day and moan!

  11. Working out with kids is always a challenge, but a must. I run with the kiddos in the double jogger at least three times a week and I have found it has made me a stonger, faster runner. I PR’d at two distances last fall after having my second. During the winter (we live in MN) the gym daycare was a blessing. The kids got to interact with other kids and I got 1.5hrs to myself to workout and shower alone! Keep making working out a priority because a happy, healthy mama is more important then a clean house and folded laundry. Plus, you are setting a good example for Wyatt!

  12. Exercise first thing definitely gives me more energy throughtout the day! Sometimes I do Jillian m 30 day shred in the am and place my baby in the gumbo and she watches me. Or when she goes to bed and my husband and I trade off going outside…hard though as I tend to be more tired at the end of the day.

  13. I get that a lot, too. The whole “why are you working out you should be sleeping thing” . . . lately I’ve been giving in and sleeping, but that’s another matter entirely. Anyway, love this post, girl. You’re going to do so great at your half.

  14. As a friend once told me, go to sleep with the dishes in the sink and laundry in the basket. Those things will happen eventually. The important thing is that you take care of yourself. I found that no matter how little sleep I got, the best remedy for me was a hard workout – I was energized for the rest of the day and would find little windows to nap.
    Great post!!!!
    PS. I’m knocking on wood for you =)

  15. You’ve gotta do something for you, and I’m glad you’re able to get back to it. I saw this one thing I fell in love with at my old gym. It was a sturdy-looking stand that held the baby carrier at treadmill height so that moms could run while their baby is right next to them. Totally cool.

    *Side Note: He’s so cute!!!

  16. I can only fit in two runs a week :) we also walk for 60 min at least 3 times a week, i find myself trading a lot of gym session for walks with my husband because i get to spend some quality time with him and have a decent conversation while she snoozes. I gave birth to a high need girl but im also a high need wife who constantly needs to be with her man!!!! ( I’m working on it)

    She just started taking 30 min naps in her crib so I’ll definitely follow ur advise and do some strength exercises.

    My laundry basket and kitchen sink are also full and I don’t really care :)

  17. I dont even have a baby and you seem to have it down better than me! Good job! You are going to be such a inspiration to your son and it seems he will have wonderful examples to follow by :)-

  18. I have a 6.5 week old and have been trying to fit in exercise since being cleared last week. I was thinking I was weird for having to pump before working out, but so glad to see someone else does too. It is a challenge to squeeze in, especially because my little man likes to take short naps, but sleeps great at night. Since we don’t put him down until 9 I go to bed then, so that cuts that time out.

    By the way love the first picture on your post, Wyatt looks like he is a ham.

  19. Love this! Just stumbled upon your blog from a breastfeeding blog that featured your article on bfing and running on fb. I also nurse (2- 4 month old and toddler) and run and giggled at your article. I have 4 under 4 and sleep is a premium, but I often choose running over sleep as well, it’s the only way to stay sane around here!! Great post!!


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