Being a mom has one constant: change. I kind of knew this when I got into it – but really experiencing what it’s like to be forced out of any kind of routine I previously had was a big adjustment. And the adjusting continues.
When it comes to working out as a mom, because of the change, the lack of routine, and the lack of knowing if you’ll get sleep, it’s hard to fit in a fitness routine into life.
I have to say on my mat leave, I was able to fit in a workout most days, even if it was just for 10 minutes. I was even able to make it to some mom and me fitness classes that were amazing! Although the days were busy, I started to find these little pockets of time to take care of myself during the day.
Then I went back to work. I was feeling pretty good about how I was feeling right before I went back. At first I was ok. For the first few weeks I answered every question about what it was like being back at work with “it’s good! better than I thought it would be!”. But really, some things that were important to me started to slip. I was slipping on meal prep, slipping on my mini self care sessions (sheet mask anyone?) and slipping on working out. I was slipping on taking care of myself. I began to feel puffy, gained a few pounds and started to feel like my legs were constantly in wet cement. Emotions of failure started to fly in. Could I actually be a mom, go to work AND take care of myself? It seemed impossible some days. But for the sake of my own mental health, my family’s health and the importance of the relationships I have with those around me, I decided that I had to make, yes, yet another change.
I’ve been back at work nearly 3 months and I’m starting to understand more about what I should let slip and what I shouldn’t. So the big change that I needed to do was to ask for help from those around me. Asking for help doesn’t come easily or naturally to me. My mom even references how I’m like that Atlas statue, you know the one with the guy with the world on his shoulders? Yeah, I was pretty much born this way and I’ve been actively working on trying to shake that feeling like I have to do everything myself.
For weeks, I struggled to figure out how I was going to find those pockets of time to take care of myself again. Between commuting to work, working, coming home, taking care of my family, pets, and cleaning the house – I usually crashed at 8pm with a glass of wine. Not my idea of thriving. I knew these pockets of time for self care still existed, I just needed some help finding them.
So what was my big ask? Well, it wasn’t even that big. I simply explained to my husband that I needed his help to find time to go running (along with why it’s super important to me, and that it’s more for my mental health than vanity). Running has been a big part of my adult life and is such a great stress reliever and a great time for me to connect with nature (I live in an amazingly forested area with great trails). I asked my husband to encourage me to go running whenever he saw a pocket of time that I would normally fill with something else that didn’t matter – or that he could take over whatever task I was doing so I could go run. It doesn’t have to be at the same time everyday, I just need to start seeing that I have more time, and that mopping the floors can wait or be done by someone else.
The support and encouragement just one week in is making me feel amazing. I went out for a jog tonight which typically would have been my “wine and netflix” time. I enjoyed a little pocket of sun (today was a rainy day) and enjoyed moving my body again.
I’m starting to get past the shame of tumbling on my health and the shame of struggling to balance all the tasks that come with being a working mom when I have a blog that preaches just that. But as Alfred from Batman said “why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.” That’s what the pursuit of health and wellness is, isn’t it? The courage to keep trying and striving for better – even when you think you’ve hit a wall.