Taking time for yourself

Baby Harriet finds watching mum exercise
Baby Harriet finds watching mum exercise

Since having Finn and Harriet one of the hardest things I have found is taking the opportunities when they come up, to take some time out for myself and exercise. 

It feels conflicting – when they’re asleep there is always something else to do, when they’re awake I want to give them my full attention and when Hayden is at home, I want to spend our precious time together as a family. 

It becomes extremely easy to not prioritise movement for myself. This has led to feeling regretful at the end of the day that I haven’t spent time doing any focused movement for myself as I feel the consequences both physically and mentally. 

It has taken me nine months to realise that actually, I need to shift my perspective firstly, on what exercise looks like with young children and secondly, how I approach ‘time out’ for myself’. 

The reality is that with nine month old twins most days of the week I simply do not have the time available to complete a straight 30 minutes of dedicated exercise. 

What it actually looks like is small increments built into my day. I have been feeling a loss of strength in my legs so I have been doing squats while holding a clingy baby, lunges when they’re in their swings and utilising the copious hills on the mountains when going for a walk with the pram. 

When the babies are playing on the floor I can lie down and do some core and abdominal exercises to help improve my abdominal separation. When the babies have gone to bed for the night I can spend ten minutes doing some spinal stretches for my very stiff back. 

It doesn’t happen every day but when I reflect back on the week I have actually achieved a fair amount of exercise. I am already feeling the difference in strength. 

Why do at times I feel guilty for ‘taking time out’ for myself? I know I am my best self, mostly mentally, when I have spent some time outside and exercising. This means I can be a better wife and Mum. Like I said above, I don’t always need to be that far away from the babies. Plus I can feel comfort that I am demonstrating some healthy life habits to Finn and Harriet. They actually find it hilarious when I exercise in front of them – I don’t know what that means about what my squats and lunges look like (see photo I snapped of Harriet laughing at me doing squats). 

It has taken a conscious effort to switch my mindset about taking time out to go for a walk/run on my own from being focused on what I could be doing instead or what I’m missing out on to focusing on how I am nurturing myself and demonstrating this importance to Finn and Harriet. 

The other fact is that by nine months this has gotten a lot easier. 

The babies are more content playing and I can leave them for longer stretches. They have also settled into a bit more of a predictable routine meaning Hayden and I have been able to find a groove with tag teaming. 

There can be an overwhelming desire in the early days for the confidence in your body’s strength and function to return and to get back into movement as soon as possible. 

I have learned to be patient, it gets easier to fit in. We need to initially be mindful of pelvic floor recovery, abdominal separation and lingering pelvic pain – things an assessment from a pelvic floor physio can help with. Then we need to figure out what is actually going to work, what we can fit in and how we can support your mindset in looking after yourself after having a baby.