I get loads of questions regarding balancing parenthood with fitness goals so here’s a brief overview of my experiences and thoughts on how to balance the two.
Im going to make an assumption and presume that your reading this because on your way to becoming a parent for the first time or you’ve just recently become one and you’re looking for inspiration.
Either way, congratulations, it’s an amazing experience (certainly the best of my life) but things are going to change. Like it or not life will never be the same, in both the good and the bad sense.
That gym schedule you always found the time for is about to be completely overhauled and is no longer anywhere near the top of your priority list. I’m going to be frank and honest for a bit now so if you’re already nervous about time management and having kids, now is the time to click onto something else.
Lets start at the beginning: the first 5-10 weeks are going to be incredibly tough. Feeding up to 6 times a night, sleep deprivation, stress mixed with extreme happiness mixed with fear. It’s like nothing you’ve ever felt before. So you can put a big line though any gym time for these weeks. Any time you are lucky enough to spend there will be likely be in vain because you’ll be too exsausted train properly.
After this time things being to get easier and routine sets in and some amount of spare time returns once again. Now is the time to try to get yourself back into some sort of fitness schedule.
So here’s my tips for finding the time to get back to the fitness grind:
- Rethink your program: You will not have the time to workout six days a week anymore (not right now anyway) so keep it simple, focus on the compound movements and cut the fluff. Focus on maintaining the basics. A 3 day per week program is much more manageable. See my post on 5×5 here:https://www.thebeltsander.org/2016/06/26/whats-your-split-bro/
- Make them count: Pick the times you can make your three one hour training sessions at the start of the week and stick to them. I can remember a time when I could select training sessions at my leisure, hitting the gym whenever it suited me. Those days are gone. Now when I can free up an hour to train, I train. Come hell or high water, sleep deprivation, rain, sleet or snow I train for that hour. Be it 5am or 10pm, stay focused and do what you need to. You owe it to yourself to perform in that hour.
- Realise the sacrifice others are making: Always remember that if your in the gym, someone else is looking after your kids. Be it your partners or parents, someone is sacralising personal time to allow you the opportunity to do what makes you happy.
- Now is probably not the time to cut: lowering your calories around this time to stay lean would be crazy. Don’t focus on bulking either, just maintain where you are and don’t sweat the scale until you can find the time to dedicate to a goal again.
- Stay off the treadmill: if cardio is your thing consider putting the baby in the buggy and taking them for a stroll. That way nobody is inconvenienced by it and they’ll sleep better for being outside anyway. Use you phone or activity tracker to track your steps if you need a reference
- Recovery times will change: I’ve been weight training for a long time (coming up on 20 years) and I’ve never really had any problems with injuries and recovery until I had kids. But as soon as the sleep deprivation started my recovery time sky rocketed, and as a result I’ve noticed i pick up the odd injury far more often in the last 8 months and it takes me far longer to recover from them. This should put in perspective how big a factor sleep is in terms of recovery.
- Remember it’s looking after yourself. If like me fitness is your lifestyle remember it’s less a hobby and more a part of what makes you, you. It’s an opportunity to let off some steam, basically it’s therapy but much cheaper than hiring a physiatrist. If you don’t look after your own health you won’t be in a position to look after your kids. You know what hey say when the oxygen masks are deployed on a airplane? Secure your mask first before assisting others. Same thing.
The new born stage doesn’t last for long, it really is a special time so make the most of it. I am myself still learning but those are my observations thus far,
Here’s to finding balance and happiness!