I remember the days before children when, after work, I regularly attended gym classes or sometimes caught up with a friend for a meal on a moment’s notice, without planning it weeks in advance. These days, I am lucky to make it to the gym once or twice a week, and those plans with friends are on the calendar ages ahead of the actual date. Clearly, finding the time for anything between work, after school activities and dinner can be challenging.
That being said, I realise the importance of setting aside time for doing things that I enjoy. I attend a weekly philosophy class. I make time for meditation. I exercise, which for me personally, is hands down, the most effective way to de-stress and re-charge. I make it to a weight training class on Tuesday evenings after work. I wake with the birds sometimes on the weekends, and tip toe from the house while everyone is sleeping to get in a walk by myself, to the ocean and back. I think it’s true that as a mother, or parent, by taking care of yourself, you are better equipped to take care of the little others in your family.
My husband and I both agree that there is less and less free time “to ourselves” or with each other. We have our own hobbies and we do make time for date nights. We also focus on doing more physical activities together as a family than aiming to get free time on our own. Now that Locky and Jack are almost seven and four, we have been getting out and doing exercise as a family, which has been really fun.
We live in Fremantle so one of our regular activities is to go and walk the stairs at Manning Park (move over Jacob’s ladder!). It is so cute to see the boys thundering up and down the steps, with the unbridled energy of youth and I’m thrilled that we are doing exercise that is challenging for me as well as them. Sometimes Jack holds my hand and we take it slow while Locky races ahead and greets us at the top. Other times, Jack meanders around at the bottom with my husband Jeremy while Locky and I whip up and down. After a few rounds of stairs, we walk the two km loop, a tree lined trail with lookout points that provide glimpses of the ocean. A playground lies at the finish line where the boys a have a play and Jeremy and I can just sit and have a chat. The only thing missing is the coffee van!
Other activities that we do together as a family include ice skating, kicking to footy at the park, and getting out in nature to the hills for a trail hike. I even try to log in incidental exercise time with the boys by walking to the shops while they scooter or chasing a friends dog around the park. Whether it is a planned outing or running or a necessary trip, it never ceases to amaze me how wide-eyed the children are, the smallest details they notice and the joy they get from the simplest things. I love the way it reminds me to practice gratitude, be present and not sweat the small stuff.
I guess my point is, and I remind myself, that I don’t have to “get away” to exercise. There are lots of options to get out and get active with the boys. Not only do we all feel recharged from it, but Jeremy and I also show them how much we enjoy being physically active. We model those positive behaviours and hope that as they grow older, they stick, and the boys continue to enjoy exercise and make it a part of their everyday life.
Now if I could only get them to eat the carrots in their lunch…