I’m a relatively fit person. I’m far from an Olympic athlete, but I do the best I can to stay healthy and in shape. I’m also the working mother of almost 3-year-old twins, so when I’m not at work I want to be with my children (not at the gym).
My friends often ask me how I manage to stay in shape. My answer? I turn playtime into exercise time.
When my twins were babies, I’d lay them on their backs and get into a plank position with my face above theirs and hold it for as long as possible. It started off as just a few seconds, as I was recovering from a C-section, but gradually I was able to hold it longer and longer. Their coos and smiles were excellent motivation to keep holding that plank! As I got stronger I’d do tummy time right along with them, doing push-ups on the floor facing them. I’d make funny faces and talk to them as I went up and down. I’d also stand next to them and do squats–tickling them each time I went down. Their giggles definitely encouraged me to keep going.
As they get older, our exercise routine gets more varied. I put them in the stroller and we play “super fast,” which means I run as fast as I can for a block, walk a bit to catch my breath, then sprint again. They enjoy the quick bursts more than a steady jog, which means I enjoy it more too. Kids also make great barbells. I hold one in front or on my shoulders and do squats. They love playing “Mommy Bend Knees.” My adventurous one loves being a “kettlebell”–I hold her and swing her up into the air and down again–cue shrieks and hysterical laughter. “More, Mommy! More up!” is better encouragement than any personal trainer can give.
Now that my twins are running and climbing, I run and climb right along with them. We play “super fast” in the stroller on the way to the playground. When we’re at the playground, I grab onto the play structure and do pull-ups or dangle and walk my hands along the monkey bars. They still love “Mommy bend knees,” and they’re heavier now so I’m getting stronger. They also love to Tango (I pick them up and dance around the room). Talk about weight training! Plus, a good game of “Ring Around the Rosie,” “Freeze Dance,” or “on your mark, get set, go” can really get your heart rate going.
Exercise doesn’t have to mean time away from your kids (although an occasional run all by myself is a much needed escape). Playtime can be exercise time, and everyone benefits.