A typical day in the life of a working mother requires an abundance of energy, stamina and resilience.
It often starts with children waking long before the alarm goes off. The chaotic whirlwind of breakfast, looking for clean clothes, getting everyone dressed, making lunches, hunting for school bags, school books, show and tell, a lost pair of shoes and remembering to throw some food in the dog’s bowl. Oh and finding time to get yourself showered, dressed in an outfit which is both semi-professional and clean, throwing on a lick of make up and taming the hair just enough to look respectable.
A school drop off, a kindergarten drop off, bumper to bumper traffic to make it to the office by 9am, seven hours of emails, phone calls, meetings and a coffee or two to keep the energy up. The run home also factors in a supermarket stop-off then two different pick-up locations to collect the kids. Another chaotic whirlwind throwing on a load of washing and making dinner. Dinner, bath, PJs, books and bedtime. Washing hung out, dishes washed, then it’s finally time to collapse on the couch, mentally and physically fried. At which point hubby decides he’s feeling a little frisky and how about we head to bed early tonight …?? Seriously!?
Mums in the workforce somehow manage to hold down two full time jobs – the corporate role and the domestic role – with so much energy being invested in the people and the demands around them. It’s becoming a common scenario, as is the tendency to put exercise and ‘me-time’ aside as it continues to fall lower and lower on the priority scale.
But finding that window of opportunity to exercise is more important than ever, and the investment in your health and wellbeing pays incredible dividends with increased energy, strength and the mental headspace to cope with the daily grind.
When women can’t find the hour in their day to make it to the gym for a workout, they often assume that means they lose their chance to exercise altogether. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Mothers understand efficiency more than any other demographic, so here are our top five tips for squeezing in a 30 minute session to keep your fitness levels soaring above the whirlwinds:
1.Set your alarm 30 minutes early for a sunrise jog or brisk walk. The hardest part is getting out of bed and throwing on your clothes, and once you’re out the door you’ll be buzzing from the fresh air flowing into your lungs and through your blood stream. Any extra tiredness from losing half an hour of sleep will be more than compensated for with the energy you create by waking up your body with a great cardio session to start the day.
2.Give yourself the mental relief of some crappy reality TV at night, but watch it from the floor while doing 30 minutes of core exercises. A combination of upper ab work (eg crunches), lower ab work (eg leg raises) and deep core work (eg planks) is ideal, and the distraction of The Bachelor will mean you’ll barely notice the exertion and the time will fly. The added bonus is you’re less likely to be mindlessly nibbling on M&Ms on the couch.
3.Take your kids to the park to play, and rather than watching them from the park bench with your mobile phone in hand, get involved. Set yourself a goal of completing eight different exercises on the play equipment, factoring in upper body push and pull movements, and lower body actions such as step-ups or squats.
4.Make it a social occasion. Instead of meeting your friend at the local café for brunch, meet them for a good long Walk’n’Talk. There’s no harm in grabbing a take away coffee or fresh juice for the session!
5.Get the kids involved. A bike ride with the whole family, half an hour of football in the park, a basketball game at home, an obstacle course in the backyard… you’re only limited by your imagination, and it’s easier than you think to get your heart rate up and muscles burning.
For proof that you can exercise anywhere, at any time, with almost no equipment, check out @fitmumsmotivation on Instagram. It’s inspiration minus the shameless self-promotion. Her workouts usually involve jumping over her kids’ toys, or lifting her kids as weights; it’s not glamorous but it’s effective – she’s a six-pack wielding wonder woman who sees the exercise opp in every park bench she comes across.
Exercise doesn’t have to be in a gym or on a treadmill. You don’t need to create the right ‘environment’ to make it happen. You just need to mentally commit to make it happen. Schedule it in your diary so it’s as important to you as a doctor’s appointment. Set the alarm early. Roll yourself off the couch and onto the floor. Because even on the coldest mornings, and even on the most exhausted nights, 30 minutes of an increased heart rate, blood pumping and muscles burning, will always return more to you in the energy stakes than it will take.
Brooke Rodger is passionate devotee of exercise and wellbeing and has worked for brands which reflect her love of the healthier things in life, including Boost Juice Bars and the Adidas Group. Whilst on maternity leave she founded SOULMAMA, a fitness brand committed to women.