“Monkey see, monkey do.” – an expression describing someone who imitates another person’s actions, good or bad, simply by having watched them before.
Keeping up with your workouts and nutrition can be ROUGH for new parents. New routine, lack of sleep, hospital recovery, heck – a new living, breathing human to be responsible for! The stress of being a new parent is well documented and I am here to remind you that you CAN continue to stay fit, even with small children in your life.
Nobody said it was going to be easy, but fitness is definitely doable if you prioritize it in your life. Why do you workout to begin with? Whether it is to survive the inevitable zombie apacolypse, fit into your old high school cheerleading outfit, or to look good naked, the underlying truth is that you do it to TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF.
Compare exercise to brushing your teeth. Would you stop brushing your teeth altogether because you have a new child? No way! Why? Because it’s bad for your teeth. Would you stop exercising altogether because you have a new child? No way! Why? Because it’s bad for your health. Here are some tips!
STEP 1 – Commit to Being the Best You
Caregiver 101 – you cannot care for anyone else unless you are cared for first. In other words, how do you expect to be the best YOU for your child if you aren’t taking great care of yourself. As a new parent, you must take control of everything that you can (because we all know there will be plenty you can’t control).
The things you CAN control are what you put in your body (quality food), how much you exercise (staying strong, flexible, conditioned), and mental clarity (let me explain). I use the term “mental clarity” instead of sleep because you know damn skippy that there isn’t a well slept parent with small children around.
If you get a good nights sleep, awesome! But for most of you, the sleep will be lacking. Use naps, meditation, and journaling for mental clarity. You’d be surprised what those three things will do for your mental sanity during these times. Sometimes simply talking about your new lifestyle with family, friends, co-workers, or even a therapist works wonders for mental clarity. Do it, and don’t feel bad about it!
STEP 2 – Prioritize Exercise
Now that you are committed, you must schedule exercise in your day. Much like you schedule a doctors visit, business meeting, or all of your meal breaks. Prioritize it like you prioritize anything else that is good for you. Plan to workout for an hour while the other parent is taking care of your new child. When you’re done exercising, have them meet you at the front door of the gym and trade off parent duties so they can get their workout in.
No childcare? No problem. If you belong to an awesome CrossFit gym, they should be okay with you taking your child to the gym (as long as it is legitimately safe to do so). Heck, my kids LOVE going to the gym with me because they get to play on ropes and rings. Some other mainstream gyms have day care on site. Utilize this, and don’t feel bad about doing so!
Can’t get to the gym? My personal favorite is playing with your kids, literally. For really small kids (0-2 years), you can literally use them as exercise equipment. Use them to bench press, overhead press, bicep curl, tricep press, or even do baby kettle bell swings (they always love that one). I’m not kidding, try this!
If your kids are old enough, workout with them! Run, jump, do pushups, squats, and sit ups with them. You’ll get a sweat in and set an awesome example of what they should be doing. Monkey see, monkey do!
STEP 3 – Embrace Your New Lifestyle
Your priorities have likely changed drastically because of the addition to your family. Understand that this is such a blessing, to be able to impact a small child for the better. You have an opportunity to foster a positive living environment, promoting healthy eating habits, and an active lifestyle. Your child will be better because you decided to stay in shape during their earliest years.
Remember, these years will pass by before you know it. You will have plenty of time in the future to get back into the best shape of your life and be able to hit it hard like you used to. But for now, always be thinking “monkey see, monkey do”. Your kids are watching you. What do you want them to see?