Tasks migrate to different categories as the kids age and go through different phases… For example, I have now reached a glorious phase where it is possible to accomplish a trip to the bathroom by myself. Cause for celebration. Odds are, if you are reading this, you are either a parent or know a parent and can relate to this one; to non-parents, it must seem absurd that the task “Go to the bathroom alone” would suddenly appear on the Things That Must Be Done While Kids Are Gone or Sleeping list, and not move to the Things That Might Be Easier Without Them But Are Very Possible To Do With Kids list for several years.
Luckily the list of Things That Are Awesome To Do With Kids is a very long one, and seems to be continuing to grow as they do… laugh, play, learn, paint, watch bugs, plant gardens, find worms, collect dandelions, snuggle, drink hot cocoa, make pancakes, eat pancakes, build forts, paint toenails, read books, eat leftover pancakes, sing songs, make up stories, finish the leftover pancakes… the list goes on and on.
When our daughter was an infant, before I had discovered the community of Stroller Strides, exercise was firmly on Things That Must Be Done While Kids Are Gone or Sleeping list. To exercise, my husband and I would take turns staying home alone with her while the other one went to the gym. This dramatically cut down on the awake time we could spend with each other. We would regularly load her into the stroller for walks, which were a lovely part of our day – but not much of a workout.
After our son was born, it seemed that not only was exercise going to stay permanently in the category of Things That Must Be Done While Kids Are Gone or Sleeping, but also that it would be increasingly more difficult to find the time to leave both of them in someone else’s care. We moved to Anchorage when our son was 3 weeks old, and thanks to a double stroller were able to continue our tradition of going for walks. For other exercise, I tried to motivate myself to get to the gym at the only time of night that was possible, but by the time I made it there was so exhausted I’m not sure I was accomplishing much on the elliptical machine.
Because of Stroller Strides and the nationwide community of active moms who are part of this growing movement, exercise has now become something that is in all three of my categories. Yes, I enjoy a great, focused workout without my kids, allowing me to give all my attention and energy to the task at hand. Yes, sometimes it would definitely be easier to exercise without the company of both of my children; however, I now realize that it is entirely possible to get regular exercise – good, complete, total body exercise - with them. And yes – exercise is also one of the Things That Are Awesome To Do With Kids. I love that my kids do planks. I love that one of my son’s first movements after he started walking was to show me his “shuffle”. I love their voices cheering me on from the stroller. I love how quickly an exercise flies by when I am able to look at two of the faces I love most in this world while I am working on staying fit. I love that I know how many seconds a verse of some of their favorite songs will last so that I can time my intervals with nursery rhymes.
Whether you are a mom or a dad, whether you are an aunt or an uncle or another caregiver – make exercise something you can add to every category of tasks. Your body – and your kids - will thank you for it.