Okay, I have to admit my initial response to this one was...BWAA HAA HAA HA HA! This myth has also been tested by me in earnest. I am a seasoned mama who has been up and down a diet/exercise yo-yo for the last ten years. The parenting magazines circulate this myth every year or so. Here are some examples of advice I found on the topic:
This is for exercising at home with infants and preschoolers:
"Occupy them for even 15 minutes with a video or toy while you do some toning exercises."Okay, I guess it's possible that some infants and preschoolers would be occupied with a toy or a video while their mama is on the floor grunting and contorting, but I can tell you for a fact what happens when I do this: I immediately become far more interesting than any toy or video. Suddenly Mama is a jungle gym, and a trampoline all in one. Or sometimes the babies will just crawl on top of me and lay there motionless... amazed at the incredible Jello-y softness of my postpartum belly. It amazes me too kiddos.
Or how about this advice for getting exercise with your children at the local playground?
Go across the money bars, even just once. Do pull-ups using a bar on the playground. Do tricep curls on a park bench. Push your children on the swing, doing squats between each push. Swing yourself to work your leg muscles.Oookaay. Supposing I was confidant enough with my overweight body to not feel embarrassed by doing pull-ups (Are there really moms that can do pull-ups? I can't even do one.) on the monkey bars or squats between swing pushes, this might work. Except that I have an eighteen month old and a 3 year old. And my time at the play ground is spent keeping them from eating wood chips or throwing themselves off high places. But I guess that counts as some exercise. I know I am at least exercising my lungs by yelling "Ben, No!" & "Clara, Spit that out!" 253 times.
Oh, but this tip about getting exercise with teenagers is my favorite:
"Don’t just sit and cheer your kids at their sporting events. Every few minutes do some walking or jumping jacks or squats."I can see it now. Every time Brandon scores a goal in basketball I will get up and start squatting and doing jumping jacks. I think this one may be worth trying just for the humiliated teenager factor.
UPDATE: Since I started writing this I attended one of Brandon's basketball games where the mother next to me actually did lunges and squats throughout most of the game. I don't know if her son in the game noticed, but her teenage daughter, in attendance with her, promptly declared her "too embarrassing to sit by" and moved to the other side of the gym. That woman is now my idol. I have started stalking her in my free time. Which obviously means never.
So tongue-in-cheek commentary aside, here's the truth on this myth: Over the years, I have tried numerous ways to get a real workout in while my kids are awake. I have found only two solutions.
- Put them both in a double stroller or wagon and push/pull all 60 pounds of them through the neighborhood or a park. Be prepared to stop frequently to retrieve toys, bribe with snacks, and keep Clara from pulling Ben's hair. (You know, If you happened to have kids named Ben & Clara) If your fitness level is close to mine, you may need these frequent stops to keep yourself from passing out from the exertion of pushing/pulling sixty pounds up and down hills.
- Join a gym with childcare.