POV: You were up multiple times through the night, calming a fussy baby. You also have a full-time job, two stepkids, a dog, and a household of chores awaiting you. Besides that, as soon as you start working out, your little baby boy starts to cry, wanting to be fed or entertained. You know it’s important to exercise but … who has the time?
That’s how I felt while trying to navigate new motherhood this past spring. I’ve never been the most dedicated gym-goer, even before having a baby. I have never been one of those people who go every single day and prioritize it above all else. And after giving birth, many mornings I would wake up early with my baby and not know how to pass the time until my mom arrived to take care of him for the day. It was my free, open time, but nothing was getting accomplished other than me catching up on my favorite Hulu and Max shows. I didn’t feel good about the lack of exercise I was getting; seeing my Apple Watch tally of calories burned and steps taken was disheartening.
One day, in a session with my therapist, she asked me how I managed stress and anxiety as a new mom who was largely stuck in the house. I said I didn’t really know. I wasn’t doing much for myself, it was all about the baby. Knowing that this is a common way to manage stress (and something I do enjoy), she asked if I had done any exercise lately. I told her I hadn’t because it was hard with the baby. Her suggestion was, “Why not exercise WITH the baby?”
This hadn’t occurred to me at all, but I gave it some thought. Obviously, there were some things I could and couldn’t do. Going to the gym wasn’t really an option in the early mornings without child care, but there were things I could do at home or in the neighborhood that would occupy my little guy while also getting me some exercise. The two activities I discovered right away were long walks with the stroller and YouTube videos where instructors lead workouts with the baby.
One morning, after my baby had slept through the night and I was feeling especially energetic, I decided to try it. I got up at 6 a.m., put my little one in a bouncy chair, and changed into workout clothing. We headed to the living room, and I searched “Yoga with baby” on YouTube. I was pleased to see there were plenty of options out there. The videos were free (with some short ads), and they incorporated ways to keep your baby entertained and also use them as part of your workout. I later discovered strength workouts, where you can lift your baby and bounce him/her around, keeping them happy while using their body weight to strengthen muscles.
This soon became a routine I looked forward to each morning, getting up early, spending time with my little one, and exercising. I also began taking him on longer walks. As he got older, he could stay awake and face outward in the stroller, so he enjoyed looking at the scenery and would not fuss during the walk as much. It felt good to get fresh air and exercise I’ve also read (although I’m not sure if it’s true) that if your baby goes outside in the sunlight, it helps them distinguish their days and nights sooner and then helps them sleep through the night.
Here are a few YouTube videos that I have enjoyed, but I’m always on the lookout for new ones to switch up my routine!