Last week I was talking with some other young mothers about body image and how it changes after you have children. It is so hard to feel positive about all the new stuff: squishy belly, saggy little breasts, saddlebags, stretch marks, etc. Yes, mothers are so grateful for their children and we don’t want to erase the effect it has had on our bodies. Yet, it can be struggle to accept your new shell. I firmly believe that every woman should not agonize over the look of the body and instead on how they feel in their body. Do you have energy to get through your day? Do you feel healthy? Are you happy in the rest of your life? Those are the important things! All that being said, if you find some determination to get some more exercise while corralling your kids all day, here are a few suggestions.
Firstly: pick something you actually like to do. Back in college I occasionally went to the gym with my roommates, but it never stuck. Using the elliptical machines and treadmills was boring and I never got into it. In between baby #2 and baby #3, I found a Pilates routine that I loved from www.fitnessblender.com. I did it almost every day for like 3 months and I fit back into a bunch of old clothes! It was great because I just got a yoga mat out and did the routine in the living room with the kids playing. Right now I am into kickboxing and Pilates (also from fitnessblender.com.) I love the kickboxing! It is a great core workout and calorie burner. It is tricky because I really can only do it when the baby is napping, but I fit it in whenever I can because it makes me feel confident!
Once you find something YOU like, figure out how to work it into your day. Some parents do early morning running or trips to the gym. Some are night owls and go late at night. Taking walks with the kids is good exercise, though not quite as calorie burning if that is what you are looking for. We are mourning the loss of the evening walk as it gets darker earlier every night! Personally, I do kickboxing when the baby takes his morning nap. I seriously shove toys out of the way in the living room, bring up YouTube on the TV and turn on the workout I want to do with the volume on low. Sometimes the boys try to do the moves with me and it’s hilarious. Other days they won’t leave me alone and I end up yelling at them to “go to the other side of the room to play! You have plenty of space over there!” Still other days the baby wakes up halfway through, so I quit the kickboxing and do Pilates instead and everyone crawls all over me. Basically it is a zoo, but it’s my zoo and I love it! Sometimes I also do yoga with the kids. Seriously, search YouTube for Cosmic Kids Yoga: it’s adorable and my kids love it. They even have Star Wars and Frozen routines!
Finally, staying motivated is the hardest mountain to climb. I think if you can commit yourself to at least two weeks of exercising as many days as you can, it helps you create enough of a habit that you can stick with it better. Then, getting in a workout three times a week doesn’t seem so difficult! Having a buddy is a wonderful way to stay motivated. My two friends and I worked out together this summer. We had so much fun and we still send the occasional sweaty selfie to help each other keep it up! Hey, I will be your buddy if you need one! Having attainable goals and holding yourself accountable is helpful also. I also think that eating better helps, because you have more energy for the workout and you’ll have better results. Results always help me stay motivated!
In anticipation of our road trip to my husband’s family reunion this past weekend, I had decided to add one more little thing to the list of “must complete before Friday.” It’s true: I am insane. To my surprise, it only took about 20 minutes to sew a cozy travel pillow for my toddler. So perhaps I am only partially insane! Additionally, he absolutely loved it and had to use it while he watched Sesame Street. It was great to have in the car for when he fell asleep since it was a long 4 1/2 hours. Some may like the U shaped travel pillows, but I like this one because I wasn’t sure if he would really keep a U shape around his neck. This was easy to slide and re-position to wherever his head lolled after falling asleep.
To make this little pillow, you need some cozy fabric and fiberfill stuffing. I used some fleece, but any soft fabric would be fine. Cut the fabric to a rectangle 10 inches by 12 inches.
I went ahead and made a little pattern so that the next time I make one I can pin it and cut it quickly. Once the fabric is cut, fold it in half hot dog style, then pin the right sides together. Sew all three sides, leaving about half of the third side open for stuffing.
Cut the corners (and any excess fabric because you didn’t have the cuts even like me) and turn right side out. Stuff with the fiberfill to your liking. Fold the edges of the hold in and press lightly. Sew closed with an invisible ladder stitch.
And there you have it: a little toddler travel pillow! Now if only it were as easy and simple to get your toddler to sleep in the car for most of the trip!
Okay, so you had a kid. This does not mean you have to listen to recordings of kids singing the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” all day. Some children’s music can be unbearably annoying. I am here to save you from endless repetition of the same four songs you can remember from your own childhood. Take a half hour to hop onto YouTube, Amazon, or I Tunes, and listen to a few of these:
Songs for dancing:
“I really love to dance” by Laurie Berkner
“Shake my sillies out” by Raffi (The version by Andy Mason is also jammin’.)
“Robot Parade” by They Might Be Giants
“Drive my car” by Laurie Berkner
“We’re going on a bear hunt” by Michael Rosen
Try some old and new pop songs that are kid friendly like
“Day-O” by Harry Belafonte
“I’m a Believer” by The Monkees
“That’s what I like about you” by The Romantics
“Lollipop” by The Chordettes
“Firework” by Katy Perry
“Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon (maybe a bit inappropriate if your child knows what shut up means, but we love it)
“The Best Day of my Life” by American Authors
Songs for sleeping:
“Moon, moon, moon” by Laurie Berkner
“The more we get together” by Raffi
“You are my sunshine” by Jimmie Davis and Charles Mitchell, I like the Elizabeth Mitchell version
“Lavender’s Blue (Dilly Dilly)” traditional, and it is in the new Disney Cinderella
“All the pretty horses” traditional, I like the version by Charlotte Church
“Hushabye Mountain” by Bobbie Gentry (or Dick Van Dyke in the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang)
“Rainbow Round Me” by Ruth Pelham
Songs for being silly:
“Apples and Bananas” by Raffi
“Pig on her head” by Laurie Berkner
“What kind of cat are you?” by Billy Jonas
“Aikendrum” traditional Scottish song, but there is a version by Raffi
“Five little hot dogs” several versions
“The Old Gray Cat” traditional, just discovered I have been singing it wrong as I learned it to be an old black cat
“Crazy ABC’s” by the Barenaked Ladies (Yes, they have a couple of children’s albums and the songs are hilarious)
I hope you find some new favorites from this list! Please tell me some of your favorite children’s songs!
Wouldn’t it be amazing to have the seemingly boundless energy of a toddler? As my two-year old runs around the backyard, I envy the swiftness of his feet and his ability to brush off bruises. That being said, sometimes toddlers need energy direction. I wanted to share with you several ways to help your toddler feel ready for bed at night. (Since you will certainly feel ready for bed!)
The number 1 way we get our toddler to expel some energy is going for a walk. We typically walk in our neighborhood, but if we have enough time, we go to a park with a trail. (Not as much worry if he runs off a bit!)
It is worth a bit of a search to find a good playground for your toddler. The playground at the school in our neighborhood is great for the school-age kids, but my son won’t even climb because it’s too high. (Then he screams as we walk away because he wanted to go on the slide.) So we go to the next neighborhood, where he can do the slide confidently!
It isgreat to play schoolyard games with a bunch of school-age kids, but it is quite another thing to try to play those games with one two-year old! I suggest finding some pretend games that your child likes. My son loves the book We’re Going on Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen. We act out the scenes in the book. There is a video on YouTube if you don’t have the book and want to check it out. We also play a shortened version of “Red Light, Green Light.” Toddlers learn a lot through pretend play. Imitating different animals is especially fun!
We have a vegetable garden and several flowerbeds that always seem to need attention. Our two-year old loves pulling weeds with daddy, putting them into the brush can, digging, planting seeds, and using his watering can.
A few other outside things we rely on: bubbles, balls, and sidewalk chalk.
When I was pregnant with my second baby, I had terrible back pain. I found myself taking Tylenol every night and wanted to find a different way to alleviate the pain. I found some yoga positions to do every day that worked like a charm! My two-year old loves to “mommy exercise!” with me. Even just basic stretches are fun to him.
One year for Christmas, my parents and my in-laws both gave my son a tent/tunnel combo. They are seriously a God-send! My boys love crawling through them chasing each other. Bonus: we have to pick up the toys to get them out!
We love to dance! It can be hard to find kid-appropriate songs that don’t make you want to saw off your own ears. My suggestion is to find something good for dancing that you can tolerate. I promise to give you some great options in my next post, so stay tuned!
Everyone needs a break now and then. It’s true for everyone. The routine can become painful! This is especially difficult when you have young children as there are so many things you are responsible for when caring for them. I know when my children are older, there will be difficulties as well. (You know, when they someday are angry and give me the dreaded “I hate you!”) For now, though, the responsibilities can sometimes be overwhelming. Do we have enough food they can be persuaded to eat in the fridge? Are there any t-shirts they haven’t gotten dirty yet? Am I going to run out of diapers? Wipes? Pacifiers? Sanity? So I am encouraging everyone (even if your days don’t consist of getting smears of food on your shirt and stickers on your butt) to plan a break! Seriously, pick someone you trust and beg them to watch your children/cat/ficus and go away. Planning isn’t usually my personal strength, but as I’ve gotten wiser (okay, maybe older, too) I’ve come to understand that if I actually want things to happen I can’t rely on it to just work out that way, I’ve got to plan for it! So stay up an extra 20 minutes tonight and plan a break for yourself with your husband, sister, friend, mom, dog, or whomever else is awesome in your life.
Maybe you can be inspired by my break: I came home last night from a weekend in Chicago with my mom, sister, and niece. It was our girls weekend and it was so wonderful to leave concerns behind and just play! First we went to the Shedd Aquarium, which was fantastic. We saw too many creatures to keep track of and spent more time than we had anticipated there because it was so great!
We ate Chicago-style pizza and had fun shopping on Michigan Avenue. We ate a fancy dinner at Wildfire which was delicious. (I especially enjoyed choosing foods with cheese, since I tend not to cook with it as much because of my son’s dairy allergy.)
We finished our weekend off with doughnuts and mass (where we even took up the gifts!)
Conclusion: plan a break from the mothering and you will find yourself relaxed and ready to take on whatever madness your children can dish out!