For parents of babies, toddlers or young children, fitness often takes a backseat to late night feedings, chasing an exploring little one around the house or cleaning up what seems to be a never-ending mess of toys or spills. Parenting is certainly an adventure, but you may still feel like you could use more fitness in your routine than acting out nursery rhymes or carrying a baby in your arms. Instead, you may find parenting to be the perfect excuse to put your fitness on the back burner. Wherever you are starting in your fitness journey, it’s important to make it a priority for you and for your family. There are plenty of fun ways to get the whole family involved so that you won’t have to feel guilty about choosing whether you should devote time to your health or your children; you can do both!
Even with a brand new baby you can get back to fitness as long as you have your doctor’s permission. Give your baby an opportunity to see the neighborhood while you push the stroller on a brisk walk, either just the two of you or in a group with other parents. If running interests you, you may want to invest in a jogging stroller. Your baby may grow to love the time spent outdoors while you can also enjoy the outing and a little exercise. Upcoming races, fun runs or walks sponsored by Morale, Welfare and Recreation or offered in your community may even be stroller friendly.
Walking or running with your child might be a simple option, but if you are looking for something more try hiking while wearing your baby in a carrier or safely attaching a children’s bike seat to your bike. Make sure that you have the proper safety equipment for your child, like a helmet, before you set out on your ride.
If you’re stuck indoors, you may also be able to simply exercise around your new baby. Your baby may appreciate a little free-play time while you exercise nearby. As your baby grows, he or she may even begin to imitate some of your motions. If you’re looking for something with a little more structure, your installation fitness center may also offer a mommy and baby fitness class. These classes typically focus just as much on bonding as fitness so you may leave each class feeling closer to your baby and your fitness goals.
As your babies get a little older and are able to move around on their own, take advantage of playgrounds and parks near you. These facilities are available on many installations or in surrounding communities. You can play right alongside your children while you teach them to climb, slide, swing, jump and run. You may also be anxious to introduce your young children to your favorite sport, but you’re unsure of their readiness. For a small rental fee, you can rent sports equipment through Morale, Welfare and Recreation for the day to introduce sports to your child. Kicking a soccer ball or throwing a baseball will improve your children’s gross motor skills while possibly building an interest in a sport.
Bowling is a great family sport that you can play any time of the year. Even young children can lace up their bowling shoes, push the bowling ball down the lane and experience success at the sight of the pins falling down. Your installation’s bowling alley probably provides bumpers for young bowlers and may even offer family specials.
Water activities are not only great for the whole family, but they are a great way to cool off in the summer and teach valuable swimming basics, like floating or treading water. You can introduce babies to water at a very young age by simply holding them in the water and letting them splash around. As your children get older, swimming lessons can help them conquer any fear of the water and learn basic skills so you can all swim and splash safely together as a family. Check with your local Morale, Welfare and Recreation for upcoming swimming lessons.
Even in a pinch you can incorporate a little family fitness into your day. Let your young children help you carry groceries into the house even if they are only carrying something small. Or they can skip down the hall instead of walking or play tag with you in the backyard. You can dance along to music as you clean or cook. You can even encourage your children to exercise with you as you do things like jumping jacks, sit-ups, push-ups, squats and more.
Family fitness is flexible; it can be an hour every day or broken up into little segments throughout your day. Use whatever time and equipment you have to get fit and enjoy the time with your children. You owe it to yourself and to your children to make family fitness part of your life in some way. You will not only keep everyone active and healthy, but you will instill healthy habits in your children that will last a lifetime.