Parenting is the most difficult workout I have ever done. It requires strength, physical, mental and emotional. It requires endurance and patience. It requires consistency and dedication. And at the end of the day, I often wonder if all the hard work is giving me the results I want. So here are some tips from the gym, things I use with my clients every day, that might just help you improve your “Mom Muscles”.
Push through. In the gym, the harder we train, the stronger we become. And as parents, we get better at parenting every time we do something difficult. The same is true with our kids. But so often, when faced with a parenting challenge, we try to work around it. We avoid the confrontation and the discipline necessary to get the outcome we really want. So how about looking at the next parent/child obstacle as a hill you’re climbing on a bike? A cyclist will tell you what happens if you are faced with a challenge (a hill) and you stop pedaling. You will stop. Or worse, you will roll backwards. But if you just turn the pedals one-more-time, you get closer to conquering your obstacle. One pedal stroke after another. That cyclist would also choose to keep going uphill rather than to ‘go around’ the hill. Stay on course and keep pedaling. Stay in the saddle. Have that difficult conversation. Follow through. Love. You will soon be past this one. And ready for the next.
Be focused. As Moms, we get really good at multi tasking. Not many Dads can do a load of laundry, return a phone call, check emails and put a band aid on an owie…all at one time. But sometimes being a good Mom means being present. When the five year old asks you how to spell disney for the HUNDREDTH time today, when the teenager comes home from school with a problem, when the daughter brings in her latest art creation, it’s time to push the pause button. And focus. Be present. Any athlete will tell you there are times in her training when she’s on auto pilot. Putting in the miles/hours/reps. But sometimes the workout demands your full attention. To improve in any area, we need to be aware of what we’re trying to improve. Stop what you’re doing and listen. Look them in the eye. Give a hug. All it takes is a minute, and then you’re back to the multi tasks at hand. And don’t forget, the kids will be gone before you know it, but the tasks will still be there for you.
Breathe. My kids know about breathing. When they are on my last nerve, they know it. Because they see me take a huge, deep breath. And that breath is much more productive for all of us than the other alternatives. Taking a big breath when I feel myself getting upset is a lot like taking a deep breath when I think I cannot do one more repetition. All our muscles need is fresh oxygen to give us one more little push. And when we take a deep breath in a difficult situation, we get ourselves out of the frustration and into the next moment. It gives us pause, and fresh air. Try it. Your kids will thank you, and it works for them as well!
Change it Up If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got. I use that all the time with my clients and students. And it’s so true. If you do the same workout the same way day after day, year after year, don’t wonder why your body isn’t changing. Likewise, if you say the same things and do the same things with your kids, they learn quickly to turn you off. Try asking in a different way. Mix up the routine. Eat dinner outside. Let them eat with their hands one night. Have an official “don’t make the beds day”. See what happens in your family interactions, and in your own peace of mind with a little change.
Fill your cup. Taking time for you is the least selfish thing you can do as a Mom. When your cup is full, there is energy spilling over and everyone around you gets to have some. Make time for your workout every day, and know that you will come back a better parent.