So many lifestyle magazines and articles like to tell us of the importance of exercise. Especially as we get on a bit. But if you’re a parent, and especially a working parent, how do you fit this in?
It may be that you’re already doing it. Let me introduce you to the special parenting exercises I use on a regular basis.
The nursery dash
This one is the basis of my routine, an almost daily occurrence. Despite preparing bags in advance, eating breakfast at the office and setting the alarm over an hour before we need to leave, I still find myself tearing along the road like a lunatic. This morning was a case in point. Already late, we hurried along and had got to the end of the road before I realised that I’d forgotten to lock the back door so had to turn around and rush back again. (I did have a split second where I wondered if I could get away with it but there’s only so many times you can play that card and I’ve got away with forgetting to lock the car several times now so figured it wouldn’t work…) I usually arrive at nursery looking slightly dishevelled and out of breath.
The baby lift
Good for toning muscles in back and arms if done correctly – no bending at the back, don’t forget it’s all in the knees. You can do repetitive movements when flying them up in the air as a game or there’s endurance and strength training in carrying them upstairs to the change mat or at bedtime. For a while, when I did make it to the gym, I did concentrate a lot on upper body strength and I’m sure it made a difference when picking E up.
The attention squat
Tone your thighs by squatting down to attend to your child’s needs. Be it to encourage walking, to put their shoe back on or to wipe their nose, any attention will benefit you as well as them if done correctly.
The after dark agility work
We don’t have a door on E’s bedroom. This wasn’t by design, it’s been like that since I moved in and I figured I’d get round to it sometime. This means that, in a small terraced house, once she’s asleep, we have to creep about upstairs very quietly, avoiding squeaky floorboards, banging doors and, the most challenging, avoiding falling over the stair gate and toppling down the stairs. I’m fairly convinced that gate will be the death of me. S does badly at this one, never removing his Doc Martens before clomping up and down the stairs and leaving lights on.
The mental routines
It’s not just physical exercise – the mind gets a workout too! And it can be training in areas of your brain you haven’t used for a while. Trying to workout just where the other sock/ beloved toy/ lost library book is can be brain training. If you fancy trying advanced brain work, figuring out how to fit the car seat and pushchair safely is a challenge for many parents, myself included, struggle with.
All this is, of course, training for the real physical and mental tests – the onset of independent walking (we’re nearly there) and trying to tackle homework. I’m lining up friends who can do maths and science to refer to for the future, but still have some gaps in friends with language skills so if you’re good at this let me know. E is walking more and more and I know soon I will spend much of my time going after her at great speed.
Frankly, the gym is a doddle.