Written by Sarah Strong
The last two months have felt…intense. Crazy. Unpredictable. New. The shelter-in-place orders put on many of us drastically changed our lives. As a single mother of two, I found many challenges with trying to maintain a workout routine with both kids constantly at home. However, I have found ways to get it done, and I want to share some of my tips for other parents out there who might be struggling.
For the first couple of weeks, I scrambled. I was thrown into homeschooling and I lost my job training in a gym because of gym closures. I wanted to keep working out as normal, but I had to adjust my view. I could not continue “as normal” because normal did not exist anymore. I needed perspective. My workouts were going to be different, and that’s okay. I also had to realize that it’s okay for me to take time for myself. I had to actually schedule time, or else the day would go by and I wouldn’t get anything done for myself.
That brings me to my next point—scheduling. The best days we’ve had as a family during the pandemic have been scheduled days. We need a plan, and my kids especially need structure. That means doing our best to wake up and go to sleep at the same time daily. It was tempting to go into vacation mode; but, we still have school and we still have responsibilities. My kids have schoolwork and they have age-appropriate chores. While they’re tending to these (when they don’t need my help), it’s a great time for me to workout. If you have younger children who nap, nap time might also be the perfect opportunity. I have been able to maintain an average of four days of lifting while at home because I have scheduled each week ahead of time.
Incorporating the Family
I quickly came to realize that I wouldn’t be able to work out the same as I would at the gym. For one, I have very minimal equipment at home. And two, I have two young children at home. And as much as I might plan things for them to do during my workouts, those plans don’t always work. If you take a look at my IG, you’ll see numerous posts with my two-year-old “helping” in my workouts. Instead of getting upset that my workouts are interrupted, I started incorporating him. He has a toy barbell from WOD Toys, and he loves to coach me telling me “up” when I’m lifting. There are also times I will wear him in a baby carrier, or just hold him as additional weight. Of course, I make sure to do anything with my kids safely—lowered weights, always proper technique, and we talk gym safety.
Our family has also taken to hiking during this time. We are fortunate to live in an area with many hiking trails. If hiking is not available in your area, you can also go for family walks, runs, or bike rides. I encourage you to find activities your children enjoy. Not only will this help you get exercise in, but it’s fantastic bonding with the family and teaches healthy principals for your kids.
Lastly, be gentle with yourself. There have been plenty of days that my workout just didn’t happen because my kids’ needs were greater. And that’s okay. I’ve gained some weight. And that’s okay, too. Maybe you’re in a position where you don’t have the equipment and you’re thrown into homeschooling and working from home. I’m not going to yell out that if I can do it, so can you. We are all in different positions, and I won’t pretend that figuring out a game plan during a pandemic is easy. Remember to value mental health as well. And remember that working on your physical health should never come at the expense of your mental health. I hope that these tips can help someone who is looking for a little boost in their home workouts. I hope that you all stay healthy, and that you know how strong you can be. If there’s one thing powerlifting has shown me, it’s that strength is not just lifting weights. Strength is doing the hard things we think we cannot do.
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