On Maintaining an Active Lifestyle
Oh, little Henry! You are not so little anymore. I know we have a few more weeks of official babyhood left, but you have been toddling for a while, so I consider you a toddler already. Every time I look at you, I think, â€œWhat a BOY!â€ No longer a baby â€“ you are now a little man. And I love it.
How things change! Both for Henry and for my hairstyles.
This month, I thought it would be fun to discuss how we maintained an active lifestyle after the arrival of Henry. We all have our hobbies â€“ mine is definitely exercise and triathlons. I worried a lot before Henryâ€™s birth that I would lose my hobby when he was born. Not only is my hobby a fun outlet, but itâ€™s also one of the ways that I maintain physical and emotional health. Before he was born, while on a long run or in the middle of a great swim, Iâ€™d think, â€œI will never be able to do this with a kid!â€
But you can. The secret is that you have to really want to â€“ and you have to have the right gear!
Iâ€™ve written before about my love affair with my jogging stroller â€“ hereâ€™s my complete review of the Bob Ironman. Five months later, I feel the same affection towards this awesome stroller. I used to think that I wouldnâ€™t want to run with Henry â€“ running was, after all, â€˜meâ€™ time â€“ but I really do enjoy the experience of running with him, and he is happy to be in the stroller 95% of the time.
I usually time my runs so they correspond with one of Henryâ€™s naps. We often run together in the late afternoon, as H usually needs a cat nap, and it can be difficult to convince him to sleep in his crib late in the day. But the stroller? He passes out.
I make sure I always have extra sunscreen, a bottle, some crackers, and a diaper. Just in case.
Together, weâ€™ve run a maximum of 8 miles. He definitely â€˜hit the wallâ€™ at that point. We usually do 3 – 5 miles or less together, and he seems to enjoy getting outside.
One major advantage of running with the stroller is that the 45+ pounds (stroller + Henry) has made me a MUCH stronger runner. When I run without him (pretty rare), I feel like Iâ€™m flying. I almost ran a sub 2-hour half marathon in January (Iâ€™ve only managed to do that once before, way back in the pre-baby days) because I was so accustomed to pushing a heavy stroller. My arms are always sore after a run, something that â€“ of course â€“ doesnâ€™t happen under normal running conditions. The stroller has helped tone my upper body and corset muscles, which is a nice side effect.
The other essential item of baby â€˜gearâ€™ is our gymâ€™s childcare. The women at childcare are so sweet and love Henry so much. In general, I do not like being away from Henry, but I feel very comfortable dropping him off at childcare while I workout. Childcare at the gym has allowed me to continue swimming (my fav!) and going to spin class.
As I wrote about earlier this week, Iâ€™ve set up my indoor trainer on my back deck so I can ride my bike at home. The indoor trainer has also been a great tool, as it allows me to exercise while Henry naps.
I recently bought two awesome exercise items on consignment. First, I bought a baby bike seat, just like this one:
The CoPilot retails for over $100 but I snagged it on consignment for $40. While we were in the Outer Banks, we rented bikes with the same seat on it, and Henry really enjoyed it, so when I saw it for sale, I had to buy it! We put it on the Husbandâ€™s road and plan to go on family rides on trails on the weekends. I donâ€™t feel comfortable riding with Henry on my bike because Iâ€™ve crashed far too many times. I wouldnâ€™t feel comfortable with the Husband riding fast, either. But still â€“ a baby seat like this is a fun way to spend time in the saddle with Henry!
I also bought a hiking backpack on consignment. Again, this backpack retails for over $100 but I bought it for $40. Three cheers for used stuff!
We have gone on one â€˜practice walkâ€™ around the neighborhood so far. I want to make sure heâ€™ll sit in the pack for a while before we set off for a long hike in the middle of nowhere. So far, he seemsâ€¦ okayâ€¦ with the pack. Generally speaking, Henry does not like to be â€˜containedâ€™ and started to fight the backpack after a while. He may have just been hungry, though. Iâ€™m going to keep introducing the backpack in small doses and hope he will arms up to it, as I think it would be a great way to go for walks around the neighborhood and â€“ hopefully â€“ off-road adventures in the North Carolina mountains.
So â€“ what about the Husbandâ€™s hobbies? Heâ€™s a big golfer, which seems anti-baby, but weâ€™ve been taking Henry to the driving range since he was a week old, and he really enjoys the experience.
He LOVES watching Kristien hit balls. Weâ€™ve ventured off the driving range and onto the course once, and Kristien didnâ€™t take the round with Henry as seriously as he normally would. He spent more time playing with H than trying to make the perfect shot. It ended up being a really fun family activity, and I know that Kristien enjoyed sharing his hobby with Henry.
As you can see, Henry does a lot of stuff! He is definitely not a homebaby and really loves being outside and doing active things with Mommy and Daddy. Iâ€™m not sure if thatâ€™s just how he is, or if we made him that way through the experiences we exposed him to (heâ€™s been to two triathlons and one 5K!), or a little of both. He is definitely the type of kid who has energy to burn, and I have to get him outside everyday. Even if heâ€™s sitting in the stroller, the bike seat, or a pack, the action seems to fulfill a need and wears him out (we spend a lot of time at the playground, too).
All of this translates to that fact that I have been able to maintain my hobby in a way that I never dreamed. Exercising with a small child takes a lot of planning, and sometimes I have to exercise when I donâ€™t really feel like it because itâ€™s nap time or childcare is going to close â€“ but thatâ€™s kind of how it was before, too, when I worked more often. Sometimes I have to blow off my workout entirely because Henry just doesnâ€™t want to sit in the stroller. Sometimes I have to cut my laps short because I know he needs to get home and go to bed. But we make it work.
I actually feel like Iâ€™m in better shape than I was immediately before pregnancy. I cross train a lot more and do a greater variety of workouts. I push that dang stroller for 10 â€“ 15 miles a week! And, although this doesnâ€™t mean everything, I am lighter than I was before pregnancy by several pounds. I think about how far Iâ€™ve come since childbirth â€“ I gained 35 pounds in total â€“ and Iâ€™ve lost that plus some more. I am really proud of myself for maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle despite having a kid. I know that, in many ways, I have it easier than other moms because Iâ€™m a part-time-worker-stay-at-home-mom and that gives me greater flexibility, but seriously â€“ itâ€™s still a challenge on many days regardless.
Hereâ€™s a confession. This is probably one of those â€œnot politically correct things that CaitlinHTP is going to try to say in the nicest way possible because most of us actually think it, too.â€ Now that Iâ€™ve figured out how to maintain my hobby with one kiddo, I REALLY worry about doing it with two kids. We have started to think about BabyHTP 2.0, and while I am oh-so-excited for the next child, I do fear that I will completely lose myself with his or her birth. Motherhood is a great joy and honor, but it is a lot of work and responsibility, and itâ€™s hard to carve out 30 minutes each day for myself. With two children, I wonder if it will be impossible. Iâ€™m afraid to sacrifice the â€˜easeâ€™ of having just one kid (hahah! You know what I mean, though). On one hand, I really do want two children, but on the other hand, I just worry about giving everything up, even if itâ€™s only for a few years.
If BabyHTP 2.0 is anything like Henry, I know it will be worth it, though. He makes me so happy.
Just a few more weeks until he turns ONE! How is that possible? Where does the time go? I love him so much.
How do you maintain a healthy lifestyle as a mom? Whatâ€™s the secret to making it work with two, three, or more kids?