Let me tell you something you already know but don’t want to hear. If you have children, you’re always going to be behind. Despite your best efforts, the chaos that comes with raising a child will constantly work against you. There is not enough physical time to get everything done, take care of yourself and raise a badass child while caring for your family and/or having a career. Something will have to take a hit, that’s the reality. And guest what? From now until you die, life is NOT going to settle-down so please stop using that bullshit phrase “When things settle down, I’ll (insert important shit you should be doing now).” Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love my family and my life. I do my best to cherish every moment with Vivi and remember that my time with her is limited. While I’m a Dad and want to be the best I can, it’s important for me to practice self-care so that my wheels don’t fall-off. I do my best to keep my cup full so that I’m at or near my best most of the time. My number one method is training.
Life is steeped in irony, it seems. Now that I’m a full-time stay at-home Dad, it’s harder to get my workouts in. However, because I’m a Dad it’s ESSENTIAL that I get my workouts in. While I of course train for specific goals, the most important reason I workout is for my mental health. When I take good care of myself, I’m mentally alert and resilient, making me better able to tackle the challenges of fatherhood and be the best Dad I can be for Vivi Bear. One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was from my friend and mentor Jen Murphy Meehan. She advised me to include Vivi in my training early and often (of course maintaining safety). I love Jen because not only does she walk the walk and take her own advice, she trained pull-ups with her daughter Colleen hugging her legs. Talk about dedication and utilizing progressive overload!
I then saw an Instagram post from Clayton Moves describing the concept of “life stacking.” It basically boils down to performing activities with your child/family that are productive and a great use of quality time with them. You’re “killing two birds with one stone,” or in my case, more. My favorite routine is walking to the gym with Vivi and Nano, working-out and then walking back. By performing that simple routine, I’ve accomplished the following:
- We got our steps in.
- Vivi got to “workout” with me (mostly playing on the floor while I hit my kettlebell work).
- Vivi and I had a fun experience. In-between my sets, I walk with her around the gym as my active recovery. Win-win to the max!
- I created the opportunity to model healthy, empowering behavior for Vivi.
Now, I’m not going to lie to you and say that everything is always peachy. I’ve had to adjust my process over time as Vivi develops. For a while, I could simply put her in a baby swing or prop her up in a boppy (basically, jumbo soft toilet seat) to support her sitting while I got after it. Once she started crawling then eventually walking, I had to evolve yet again. That’s one of the best parts of parenthood, I’m constantly having to level-up like I’m a character in a video game.
While difficult at times, I can tell you that it’s totally worth it. Even before Vivi was standing, she started mimicking my hardstyle breath that I use while training with kettlebells. Now, she uses the kettlebell to stand and performs squats. She tries to swing it, mimicking the hip drive and it’s absolutely fucking adorable. My friend Jen even ordered her a beautiful handmade crocheted kettlebell to train with (obviously with her initials on it). As a bonus, Vivi gets to see my colleagues train clients at the gym as well. It warms my heart that she’s going to grow-up seeing strong, badass women killing it in the gym.
My situation is a bit unique in that a friend has a private facility that’s within walking distance from home. However, you can still utilize this principle with at-home or outdoor workouts. My colleague and frequent guest on the podcast Laura Mahoney has what she calls “workout dance parties” with her beautiful son Tommy. She focuses on keeping the training environment fun, including both her son and dog. This is not only a creative and fun way to spend quality time with her family, it allows her to get the most out of each precious hour. As a stay at-home Mom, personal trainer and business owner, it’s essential.
As parents, we’re constantly busy and being pulled in multiple directions. While totally worth it in the long run and for the lovely memories, it can be extremely draining at times. This is one of many strategies I utilize to balance taking great care of my daughter while also getting the much-needed recharge. I truly hope you found this information helpful.
Train your body. Feed your mind.