Time to check in on my Playful Self-Discipline project! January’s theme is physical health, and last week I wrote about the steps I took to ensure I get a good sleep, which involved night weaning my 20 month old toddler, Claire. This week I’m looking at my self-discipline around exercise.
Staying Fit When You’re a Parent
Being active has always been something I really enjoy doing. In High School I was a lifeguard at my local swimming pool, in University I loved going for long solo runs through river valley trails and going out dancing (really DANCING) all night long every couple of weeks. When I met Tom we would go for long hikes on camping trips or go canoeing in the Rockies, and I did a lot of yoga and went hill walking after moving to Ireland.
Now that I’ve got two little people to take care of, being active is both more important and (like so many other things) harder to carve out the time and energy for. There is a certain amount of exercise involved in chasing after or constantly lifting/carrying a toddler, but I find it can wear me down more than exercising at the gym would. A close call with a muscle strain last year was also a warning that taking care of a heavy baby or toddler without keeping my muscles strong and evenly balanced could put me at risk for a repetitive strain injury. We still go camping and hiking, but it’s less about the exercise now, and more about having a kid-paced adventure in nature.
Exercise is Easier When it’s Fun
Right now my weekly exercise mostly consists of one 75 minute long Zumba class per week, maybe a couple hours walking around my neighbourhood at toddler pace, and sometimes an hour or two spent walking in the woods on the weekend. Last week we went snowshoeing, which was amazing, but it’s not something I can do by myself with two young kids.
Zumba is totally fun, and an excellent boot in my overly-serious bum when I’m feeling stiff and cranky. It’s hard to be irritable when you’re Salsa dancing. It also gives me a chance to jump around and get my heart rate up, listen to upbeat music and get my groove on. I can’t really go out dancing at nightclubs anymore, but I can go nuts at Zumba.
My Playful Goals for Exercise
Over the course of 2011 I want to incorporate more playful exercise into my everyday life with Beatrice and Claire. I’m aiming to have a chunk of time every day where we run around outside together, rain or shine. I want to teach Bea how to throw a frisbee and catch a ball, how to ride her bike without the training wheels and swim without a pool noodle. In the spring and summer I want to have family bike rides when the weather is good. For a while we might not be fully up to speed, but I have a feeling the more we get out there the more fun it will be. I also want to keep up my weekly Zumba class, and not let it slide into the “can’t be bothered” pile.
It’s easy for me to think about exercise being a playfully self-disciplined activity. It’s Zumba and frisbees and bike rides and snowshoes! It’s fun! The challenge, I think, will be staying playful and forgiving when my kids can’t keep up with my ideal pace, and keeping up my motivation to get out there with the kids even when it doesn’t result in as much exercise for me as I’d like.
What does your weekly exercise routine look like? Do you do sports and other physical activities with your kids, or do they do them in classes without you? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments.
Also, I’d like to remind you that at the end of January I’ll be hosting a link-up, where everyone can share blog posts on their experiences with playful self-discipline and physical health. You can link up an older post you’ve already written a post on the topic or write something new for the link up. I’m really looking forward to it!