mom-son-skating

Have you ever thought of putting exercise in your mom calendar?

When my kids were much younger, I went to a café literally created just for moms with small kids.  There was a colorful playground inside where kids could play while their mommies ordered coffee or fruit smoothies.  Around the corner was an exercise room for mommy and me classes.  I struck up a conversation with another mom while my kids went down the slide.  My littles were probably one and three at the time, and I was craving adult conversation.

I asked the other mom about her hobbies and she immediately lit up.  Her passion was playing in a volleyball league.  “When do you play now?” I asked.  “Oh I haven’t, ever since I became a mom.”

This sounds awfully familiar doesn’t it?  When we become mothers, many of our own interests are put aside for a few years or much longer.  Sometimes this can’t be helped, but when it comes to putting off exercise, we would be wiser to get back in the game as soon as possible.

Exercise not only keeps your waistline from expanding, it boosts your mood, immune system, lowers your stress level, and helps you get a good night’s sleep.  Depression is the most common mental illness, affecting a staggering 25 percent of Americans.  That number surely includes many moms.  A 2011 study looked at 127 depressed people who hadn’t experienced any relief from antidepressants, and found that exercise led 30 percent of them into remission.

Exercise can help you become a much happier mommy.  Yet many of us are too busy to actually exercise.  I imagine women in the Old Testament like Sarah, Rachel, and Leah got plenty of exercise in everyday life fetching water, carrying supplies and walking everywhere.  We modern moms rev up the car instead or order things to be delivered to our doorstep!

We must find ways to incorporate exercise into our calendars and this can be a group effort.  For years, my family of five have gone to martial arts a few times a week.  Yes, one purpose is learning self-defense, but the greater purpose is to exercise and bond together.  This activity works for our family.  What will work for yours?  I don’t expect you to lace up soccer cleats or pick up T-ball.  But choose something you can do on a regular basis to make physical activity a regular part of life for you and your kids.  You might:

  •             Ride bikes
  •             Take walks around the neighborhood
  •             Go on a day hike
  •             Learn how to rollerblade or ice skate
  •             Play tennis
  •             Jog together
  •             Do exercise videos
  •             Swim

I encourage you to harness the power of exercising with a family member or friends.  My mom and I have attended a weekly cycling class together for 13 years and counting.  There’s no way I would have kept spinning on my own.  Case in point: I think I’ve ridden the spin bike we have at home maybe twice in five years.  But when I’m motivated to get my mom there and afraid of my instructor’s wrath if I don’t come, I get on the bike every week without fail.  That’s the power of having an exercise appointment with someone else.

You may want to exercise but you really won’t until your calendar demands it (and especially when you’ve paid for it).  Don’t feel bad about scheduling time in your week for exercise.  Your kids won’t suffer because you went to a fitness class or lifted weights in the living room while they were doing homework.  On the contrary, they’ll see a mom who takes care of her body and it will teach them to do the same.

Catching good habits from you could make a huge difference in the future health of your kids.

You know, I sure hope that mom from the café is playing volleyball again.  I think it would infuse a lot of joy into her parenting.  I imagine her kids would cheer her on from the stands and someday follow in her healthy footsteps.