"Can I Just Get an Hour to Myself?"

“Mommy, the puppy pooped on the floor!”

“Mom…Morgan is having a sleepover tonight; I need you to get her a birthday gift.”

“Mom, I left my basketball shoes at my dad’s house. Nolan says the baby needs nursed. I also think he pooped.”

“Oh and Mom? I forgot to tell you that we’re going to eat before the dance. You just have to drop me off and then take my friends to the dance. You can pick me up at 10.”

 Let's play "tie up Mommy while she's holding a newborn" game.

Let's play "tie up Mommy while she's holding a newborn" game.

In the three minutes I sat down to write this, this is what I was called to do. Three minutes. 4:15pm. Two requests for fecal clean-up..one human and one animal. One request for a shopping trip followed by transportation to and from a party, an additional “figure it out” solution to retrieve the new basketball shoes from the locked home of my out of town,  ex-husband and the obligatory participation in my 8th grade son’s first dance. I also have to find 10 minutes to use my own body to breastfeed my son. I feel like I’m living my own “Ninja Mom Warrior” course where I have 92 tasks to complete in an allotted amount of time and right now I’m at the “dangling over icy water or drown” obstacle.

The demands of motherhood are exhausting, physically demanding and everlasting. Regardless of if you work or stay home, have one child or seven, are married or single…every mother has a different set of struggles where we just need a BREAK! Not a break where you’re pushing your kids in the stroller around the neighborhood for exercise or where you’re on the sidelines of your kid’s soccer game Pinteresting…a BREAK where the focus is on you.

 A relaxing day at the beach with my children.

A relaxing day at the beach with my children.

When people ask, “How do you do it,” I always give the same response….”I give myself one hour a few days a week to exercise.” There are 168 hours in one week. I am not afraid to say, and will champion the cause, that mothers deserve at least four or five of those hours to take care of our health and sanity….and here’s why….

(***If you’re a mother who feels like she’s out of shape, isn’t comfortable exercising or is just not interested…DON’T STOP READING… )

1.     Fight Stress with Exercise

Exercise is one of the most effective ways to fight stress and improve your mental health. Regular exercise has a profound impact on anxiety, depression and brain function. It improves memory, helps you sleep better and chemically improves your mood by releasing endorphins. Oddly, tiring yourself out gives you more energy to keep up with kids and it also increases your libido.

For me, there is a noticeable change in my temperament when I do not exercise. I am easily irritated, I feel like little things overwhelm me and my patience level drops significantly. When I do home workouts before the kids get up or finish a group fitness class after I drop a child off at practice, I feel more relaxed and capable of handling parenthood.

2.     Moms Deserve a Break

It is perfectly normal to admit that your kids drive you crazy, that parenting is work and that you cannot ignore yourself day in and day out. If you’re a stay at home parent, it’s important to have conversations and meet people that don’t need to be potty trained. If you’re a working mom, getting up 40 minutes earlier to do a DVD video before you go to work or attending a dance class in the evening really can help you manage stress and improve your body image. I have been both a stay at home parent and a single mother working multiple jobs and in both cases, I have always managed to schedule a few hours for myself each week because I needed that “me time.”

3.     Increase Your Self Confidence

No matter where you are on your fitness journey, doing something is better than sitting at home. You will never regret a workout. If you’ve had a bad day at work, are unhappy about the extra pounds you put on or have been carrying the baby weight into the toddler years, taking control of your own health is a step in the right direction. It is a reason to feel good about yourself.

If you’re the mom who has told yourself that you’re too far gone, you’re not comfortable in the gym or you don’t even know where you’d begin, please know that a wealth of support can be found in other mothers, fitness communities and online support groups. I am always the most impressed by women I know who feel like they’ve given up on themselves but make it to the gym because they know they deserve to feel better. When I was teaching barre classes and women would say they hadn’t worked out in years or were embarrassed to be in workout pants, I would always feel the most inspired and proud of those women. They were taking control! Are you the mom who used to love to dance but can’t find the time, the mom who used to love bike riding with friends or the mom who looks at a picture of a healthier you and asks where it went wrong? If you can relate to those statements, it’s time to make yourself a priority.

4.     Be an Example for Your Children

Even if you’re dropping your crying kids off at the YMCA daycare while you go to a Zumba class for an hour, you are teaching them that health and fitness matter. If you don’t take care of yourself, how do you expect your children to take care of themselves? Active parents have active kids. Parents who learn to cope with stress will have children that learn to cope with stress.

I vividly remember waiting for my mother to finish her Jazzercise class in a gym daycare and the smell of the carpet in the old tennis club lounge waiting for my mom to finish her tennis match. When I became a mother, she told me that I had to schedule time for exercise like I would schedule a doctor’s appointment or parent conference. Mothers don’t have the time, we have to MAKE the time.

 Barre and Pilates classes...my favorite way to treat myself. That's me in the bottom right, 7 months pregnant...anyone can do these classes.

Barre and Pilates classes...my favorite way to treat myself. That's me in the bottom right, 7 months pregnant...anyone can do these classes.

There is always a FIRST DAY, a day where you decide that YOU matter. A day where you decide that you will be a better mother if you make the choice to take care of yourself just as you take care of your children. This is your invitation….an invitation to a give yourself a BREAK! There is nothing in nature that blooms all year long so don’t expect yourself to do so either.

 

IF YOU'RE LOOKING FOR A WAY TO BEGIN, HERE ARE MY PERSONAL FAVORITES AND LINKS TO GET GOING!

1.     Find a gym with childcare! The YMCA has great classes, childcare programs for kids and even offers need based discounts.

2.     BARRE and Pilates classes are my absolute favorite because EVERYONE can do these. I did these up until two days before I delivered my 6th child. It essentially uses your own body weight and light resistance to tone and tighten. Pure Barre is amazing and if you don't live near one of their studios, they now offer the classes ON DEMAND! You can now do the Pure Barre workouts at home with a chair! Many gyms offer barre classes and if you can’t find a studio or gym, these are my favorite DVD’s that you can do at home.

Tracy Anderson - Metamorphosis (4 DVD set based on body type. Celebrity trainer. )

Tracey Mallet - Booty Barre - Total New Body

3.     Dance classes! I made so many great friends taking Zumba and booty dance classes. As a mother who hasn’t seen a dance floor in years, this was a a great way for me to release my inner club dancer, burn calories and make friends. There are so many dance fitness classes...from ball room to hip hop to zumba. In Jacksonville, we we have numerous ball room dance studios that I am dying to try. Maybe I just want a good spray tan and a glittery dance costume but its definitely on my to do list. We also have Dance Trance, a studio that solely offers dance fitness classes and a wealth of studios that offer everything from belly dancing to booty.

If you love to dance and have not seen Whitney Thore, the star of My Big Fat Fabulous Life, do yourself a favor and watch the show on demand. Whitney is a plus size girl who can break it down like nobody's business. My husband, the pro athlete and I, love this show because she just embraces her size but kicks ass in the gym and on the dance floor. (I think we are friends who just haven't met yet;) Whitney joined Caleb Marshall, The Fitness Marshall, for this video. He provides cardio concert workouts to today's top hits to keep you motivated! I'm dancing in my chair as I type because Caleb's instruction is hilariously entertaining.

 

Shaun T's DVD's from Amazon are also great for at home dancing.

4.     Take a self-defense or karate class…learn how to protect yourself while burning some calories.

5.     Bike – Just excuse yourself and start peddling! Fresh hair and cardio…a true break!

**For those in the Jacksonville area, I work out at The Gym Jax, and would like to invite anyone to attend a barre, X-Fit or yoga class with me. If you need a partner, let me know! There are morning and evening barre, yoga, TRX (suspension straps) and X-Fit (group weights/cardio) classes. Most Saturday mornings, I'm there at 9 for a 30 minute quick barre class (great intro class) or the X-Fit class. I have made great friends through these class and everyone is very positive and encouraging. Here's a video of our barre class and what you can expect!

 

 

 

      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re looking for ways to start, here are my personal recommendations:

 

1.     Find a gym with childcare. The YMCA has great classes, childcare programs for kids and even offers need based discounts.

2.     BARRE and Pilates classes are my absolute favorite because EVERYONE can do these. I did these up until two days before I delivered my 6th child. It essentially uses your own body weight and light resistance to tone and tighten. Pure Barre is great but can be expensive and has no childcare. Many gyms offer barre classes and if you can’t find a studio or gym, these are my favorite DVD’s that you can do at home.

3.     Dance classes! I made so many great friends taking Zumba and booty dance classes. As a mother who hasn’t seen a dance floor in years, this was a great way for me to get moving, enjoy music and make friends.

4.     Take a self-defense or karate class…learn how to protect yourself while burning some calories.

5.     Bike – Just excuse yourself and start peddling! Fresh hair and cardio…a true break!

6.