Sometimes, I hardly recognise my life pre-kids. I used to wear makeup and heels every day. Now, after four children, you're not going to see eyeliner on this face unless I'm attending a wedding! I used to read new books regularly, and I loved trying new recipes. Now, I can't remember the last time I did either. Although almost everything about my life is different today, there is one thing I will never give up, no matter how many kiddos are underfoot: I still exercise every. single. day. No matter what is happening with my family, I find time to roll out my yoga mat or head outside for a walk — rain, shine, strep throat, or temper tantrum.
I used to have time for an hour-long yoga class, or an eight-mile run. Now, we're talking about 10 minutes tops for a quick YouTube yoga sesh, or a walk around the neighbourhood with my baby in a stroller and one or two kids on Razor scooters behind me. But this is how I fit exercise into my crazy-busy life. You might find me lunging around the changing table. Or, practicing tree pose while I heat up chicken nuggets. I take a long walk to get a cup of coffee some weekend mornings. Or I'll power walk around the pool complex at my daughter's swim meet. I don't care what it is, as long as I find time to get in some movement.
I may never wear lipstick again! But I can stretch it out on a yoga mat.
Of course, I'd love to have more time for me. But my husband works long hours, we don't have family who live close, and I haven't yet found a babysitter who is available on a regular basis. So instead of setting myself up for disappointment when I can't make a class at my nearby yoga studio or I fail to meet my goal of walking four miles on a given day, I choose to make the best of what time I have. My reality as a mum of four means I may only get 10 minutes that day when my baby is napping and my other kids aren't asking for homework help or begging for a ride to a friend's house. So I use that short window to do the one thing that makes me feel like the old me.
During those 10 minutes, I try and block everything else out. One kid may have a fever, but I can check her temperature again after a few sun salutations. Another might be asking for a snack. She won't starve if she waits, just this one time. I refuse to feel guilty for putting myself first for just a few minutes each day. All the other minutes are 100 percent devoted to motherhood. So in order to guard against resentment, frustration, and a potential nervous breakdown, I exercise. I may not have many occasions to rock 4-inch heels any longer. I may not have enough time to shop for and cook a Thai dish I saw online. I may never wear lipstick again! But I can stretch it out on a yoga mat.
At the end of the day, I still want to feel good about myself outside of the satisfaction I get from being a mum. I need that 10 or 20 minutes to move my body and remember that I'm a person, not just a mum. And I know I'm a better mum for claiming that time for myself. It's not always easy! I've literally had my son hanging off of my ankle while I do a downward dog. But I tell them that Mummy needs this. Because then, later, when I don't have time to shower, or even eat a meal that doesn't consist of kid leftovers, I can rest assured I got some "me" time. And that more is on the way tomorrow.