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Finding time to be active

By Chelsea Roffey

Putting yourself first isn’t always easy, but perhaps it’s time.

I’ve always valued physical activity – the leisure of long runs, sweating through high intensity gym classes, savouring swimming sessions and the restorative joy of yoga.

Then the arrival of my daughter signalled an entirely new relationship with time. Schedules were suddenly built around feeding and sleeping patterns, with only the most essential tasks completed in between. It felt like time to invest in myself ceased to exist.

Without a nearby support network, doing anything “extra” became an opportunistic juggle around my husband’s work commitments. (I’m in awe of those who face the demands of solo parenting.)

Despite the intense adjustment, I still valued movement, with the added awareness of needing to strengthen and tone my body during the postpartum period and beyond. I recognised putting myself first sometimes was important for my mental health and affected my ability to embrace being a mother and wife.

For the sake of my mind and body, I needed to exercise. But how? When? And would I even be capable of movement? I’m so tired!

It’s unlikely my routine will ever look the same as it did before. But I’ve found ways to integrate movement into my day-to-day that respects my limitations while pushing me to embrace the time I manage for myself.

Here are a few principles that have helped me to maintain my connection to movement:

Let go of expectations

Broadly speaking, this is my new mantra. Plans change often, so I’ve learned not to set them in stone. Getting out of the house is a win – and that’s where we begin. A walk with the stroller or baby carrier, a dose of sunshine and breath of fresh air can be an unexpected but welcome gift. Forget about the clock and embrace the moment.

Enjoy being creative

Necessity may dictate a change of direction which can inspire a creative approach to physical activity. An intention to go for a run can morph into an impromptu at-home bodyweight circuit. A baby in lieu of a kettle bell is a resourceful invention. Squats, lunges, and sit-ups have the added benefit of cute giggles and some genuine bonding. Play can be a great workout.

Go with the flow

I’ve always loved the idea of moving according to how I feel. Responding to my body brings a sense of fun and freedom to physical activity and the possibilities of choice: walk, run, stretch, swim, bike, or yoga? Walk up a hill. Get barefoot by the beach. Effort can be flexible, too. Simply beginning to move and adjusting to my body in the moment is a great way to feel energised rather than tied to a strict regime.

Time these days is loosely built on regular reminders to let go, be creative and go with the flow when it comes to physical activity. But none have been so important as the exercise in self-compassion required to put myself first.

In doing so, I’m able to recharge, reset and role model healthy habits for my child.

Last updated: January 31, 2023 at: 9:40 pm