Why I workout after the kids go to bed

While you workout, fire up a fun show or podcast to combine exercise with genuine entertainment.

Story highlights

  • Working out after the kids are in bed allows you to focus on yourself for a few minutes
  • It can be beneficial in keeping your body loose and your mind stress free, mom says
  • Try buying a few good exercise DVDs to do in your living room
My baby weight isn't going to lose itself -- and believe me, I've tried waiting around to find out.
I've had three babies in the last four years, which means the same 25 pounds have come and gone three times. Problem is, the other 10 extra pounds I've had for years hasn't gone anywhere, either. Here it is, right around my waist, enjoying life in elastic pants.
I workout after my kids go to bed because...
It makes me feel better emotionally. Even though I'd rather collapse on the couch the moment all three of my little rascals are tucked in tight, finding the gumption to fire up a fitness DVD or head out on a walk gives me a sense of freedom.
When I start carving out time for myself, I feel better taken care of, like our household isn't quite as chaotic as it usually seems. Life with young children is tiring, and when you've been dealing all day with tantrums, pull-up diapers and tiny people who insist on dressing themselves even though they can't fasten buttons, it's easy to sink into an emotional rut by nighttime. (Read: a pity party with a side of laundry.)
It makes me feel better physically. By now, everyone knows the chemical benefits of exercise. Working out is scientifically proven to provide endorphins, the same kind you get while sneaking a big piece of dark chocolate while the kids are playing in the other room. The difference being, exercise endorphins actually whittle your waistline, instead of expanding it.
I can focus on two of my needs at once. Ever the multitasking mom, I make sure that even my workouts are twofers: Since private time is at a precious premium, I throw in a fitness DVD (say, one from Tracy Anderson) and then I turn the volume down and fire up a fun show or podcast (say, "This American Life").
It's a system that combines genuine entertainment with physical stimulation -- and both on the cheap. No wonder I'm loving my routine!
It's an automatic out from my kids' bedtime clutches. When my 3-year-old climbs on my back, demanding one more snuggle before bed, I can (truthfully) tell her, "I've got to do my exercises now. Love you!" And she totally gets it. Love that kid. Sticker for her.
It keeps me loose. I've always been an active person, but I've never been particularly thin. That's a whole other ball of wax, one that involves eating a lot less, especially given my height (average) and metabolism (sea slug-ish).
Right now, after baby No. 3, my fitness goals are purely focused on moving all my body's parts every day, and noticing how good it feels. My creaky neck, that pinch behind my left shoulder blade and oh, those hips... ouch! What they need is movement, strengthening and stretching.
It makes exercising seem like a treat instead of a chore. Ever since my kids were born, I've been a work-from-homer instead of an online executive leading a team from the comfort of a fancy office. Nowadays, my time spent being a professional and my time spent being a mom totally blur together, to the point where my average day goes something like this:
Interview expert for upcoming article. Throw load of clothes in washing machine. Edit photos for Foodlets.com. Check emails. Get dinner going. Throw clothes in dryer. Have conference call with new consulting client.
With a schedule like this, I find that it's honestly just too tiring to consider doing ONE MORE THING at the end of the day -- unless I make it feel like a reward.
For a while, I really resented the whole idea of having to stick to a nighttime fitness routine. Wait, now my "special thing" is exercising? Since when is that "fun"?
Then I had a change of heart. Life requires effort. Should one of my daughters ever find herself in a similar situation someday, I'll be able to tell her: "Make the effort. Make yourself healthy." Because I've learned from personal experience that along the way, she'll be happier.
I don't have all the kinks worked out yet. Every working parent struggles with finding the time and energy to both work and raise kids. It's that dance between spending time with your children and providing for them -- and there's so much more to life than either one.
I've got personal goals beyond wearing normal jeans again, and would love to increase the amount of time I spend chatting with friends by about 728%. And that guy I married a few years back? We've got many canceled date nights to make up for.
This life is a work in progress, but for now, I'm happy to have one little piece of the puzzle in pretty good shape (even if that shape isn't exactly a six-pack).
Two more bits of advice:
1. Get a couple of exercise DVDs you enjoy. My favorites involve barefoot cardio that doesn't even require finding shoes.
2. Stock up on podcasts or streaming videos that you can start (and pause) whenever you want. Play them while you work out; the distraction will make the whole thing feel like more of a treat.
This article was originally published on upwave.com