When you become a parent, your life changes. I’ll go out on a limb and say that’s an understatement. Among many other differences, the time you have to yourself isn’t the same anymore. There’s the constant debate in your mind of whether you’re taking too much time for yourself, being too selfish, or if your kids have enough food, water, sleep, energy, activity, pee, poop in a given day.
If you’re like me, you used to have hours each day that you could spend training and still have time to spend with your friends, family, or partner. Nowadays, your schedule is a mix between tight and chaotic. And when you actually do have time to train, you’re torn between vegging out on the latest tv show or resting your eyes while horizontal.
If you’ve tried to pick your old routines back up, only to experience what feels like failure, don’t distress. You’re just learning all the ways your current lifestyle doesn’t work with your old routines. The solution: update your goals to align with your new lifestyle and figure out how to train efficiently and effectively.
For the sake of simplicity, let’s say an efficient training session is one you can fit into the time you have available. An effective workout is one that – over time – actually produces a meaningful and desired change in the way you look, feel or move.
The more challenging bit is updating your fitness goals – ones that are relevant to your current lifestyle and how you want to live in the future. There’s always that little voice whispering from your shoulder saying something like, “Remember when ….? You were able to do X and Y? And with no problems!) Nostalgia is great for reflection and learning lessons, but not so much for setting goals. Learn from the past, but focus on the present (it is a gift, you know!) and use it to inform the goals you set for your future.
What’s next? Accept that the days of 90 (or even 45) minute long training sessions are few and far between. With the limited time you have to yourself, make your fitness effort meaningful by prioritizing a skill (i.e. squat or push-up) or attribute (i.e. strength, mobility, control). Focus on something that will noticeably improve some aspect of your everyday life, like actively playing with your kids, going up and down stairs, yard work, or simply moving furniture around the house without getting an achy back.
So, when life turns you into a parent, make the most of it. Relish in the multitude of once-in-a-lifetime experiences you’ll share with your family. And use the constraints of parenthood to develop new fitness routines that will keep you moving through life with the same passion and energy your kids bring to each day.