I have to admit, I’m one of those mamas who feels extremely guilty for exercising, because I feel like I’m doing something that only benefits me. Yeah, I know—if I’m healthy and feel good, my family will benefit. I get that, but the reality is when you have six kids, spending enough time with each of your several children is difficult enough. Training for a marathon or several trips a week to the gym is just not in the cards.
A few years ago, my brother-in-law did an Ironman triathlon. This guy swam, ran, and rode a bike for a total of ELEVEN hours! It was awesome, and when he completed the race there were great celebrations—we were so proud of his hard work and this huge accomplishment. In addition, he used the race as an opportunity to raise money for a local Autism organization, so that made it even more exciting. But getting prepped for that race took a lot of time. For the months leading up to the Ironman, my cool and supportive sister was running her own glory-less marathon, managing all things home and kids, while her hubs trained.
I might be able to rationalize that kind of time away from the kiddos if I was ending world hunger or maybe promoting world peace, but anything else would be difficult. Remember, I’m talking as a mama of six kids, not two or three.
Training for an Ironman is obviously an extreme example, but like in most situations, the Mama of Many has to think outside of the box and come up with other ways to stay fit!
1) Take them with you! I go for power walks, but not with a walking group or a bunch of friends (though I’d love to!)—my three biggies hop on bikes or throw on rollerblades and off we go. Their wheels make them faster than I am and they can bang out five or ten kms without a problem. The picture shown was taken four weeks after my last C-section, after the first power walk of the season.
2) Be an active mom! I built up my mommy muscles by having to push a double stroller around for nearly a decade. Hauling toboggans up hills, pulling sleds full of kids, chasing down crazy toddlers, and going on nature hikes are also quite effective ways of staying fit.
3) Go to a gym with a Kids Club. Just so happens that I have a gym membership, also known as my monthly “donation” based on how infrequently it is used. I won’t give it up, because I have been grand-parented into the old FREE daycare policy. On the rare occasions I do get there, all the kiddos come, because they love to come with me and have a blast at the Kids Club. The staff grimaces a bit as we walk in the door, but hey, I’m entitled—just check the policy!
I look forward to the time in my life when I can rotate between yoga, Pilates, and kickboxing. Until that time, I just have to be satisfied if I can get through a power walk without having a rollerblade run over my foot.