Cardio is Hardio

Finding the time, and energy, to make exercise a part of our daily schedule can be tough. But if it was ever part of your everyday regime, you know it’s worth it. And if it hasn’t been your cup of tea, consider no time like the present to jump into a healthy habit.

Make a Date with Your Heart rate

It can be daunting to get started, but begin with what is convenient for you (and you can’t say ‘nothing’!). Morning person? Set your alarm that much earlier to be done before the kiddos are up, or their school schedule has kicked in. Night owl? Eat a lighter dinner and work it after bedtime. I still have one napper, so sometimes, I use her morning nap as my scheduled session.

Set a Plan

This is two-fold. I am old-school, and maintain a paper and pencil planner. A while back Declan asked me why there was a ‘heart’ on each day. I told him it was part of my schedule to exercise each morning. Now, I have my planner and my little man to remind me. Also, I keep a photo album on my phone labeled ‘workout.’ There are 168 pictures (at the moment) that I gradually add to – all workouts. Some are from Pinterest, others are ones that my workout guru friends have texted me, and many are from previous workouts designed in my “freerer,” kidless years. I try and decide the night before what my general plan is for the next day, allowing for flexibility of course. But it’s super helpful to not have to sit down and create a plan from scratch. No excuses – ready to go!

Don’t Hesitate!

There will always be a thousand other things to get done. Just do it.

Be Flexible…

…And I don’t just mean with your yoga moves. Don’t worry about your outfit, the technicalities of the workout, or if the timing is perfect. Be willing to get your sweat on in your jammies! Or lay your clothes out prior to the workout to eliminate decision making procrastination.

Train up a child in the way he should go…

~Proverbs 22:6. My son doesn’t know a time when he wasn’t lifting weights with me while we listened to Disney music and chatted about our day! We love training outside, in the garage, by the pool… you name it. Of course, there are the days that I covet some me time to pound the pavement in the precious hours before sunrise, but it was a proud moment when Declan asked for “Bring Sally Up” so he could do the push up challenge with me. “To get stronger than Gram,” he said.

Create Your Space

I loved being a gym member, but there came a time when the price tag, and schedule, didn’t fit our family’s agenda. So we created my home gym. We invested in weights, a bench, an exercise ball, and even a TRX (a suspension trainer that uses your own body weight to build strength – a great Christmas gift!). Kinley especially loves our exercise bands for her squats (see above). At our house, we are all about making it possible, and rolling out of bed WORKS OUT well for us!

Time to Run

Running has always been my sanctuary. With little ones, we have loved the Bob single stroller, and now, the Bob double stroller. We pack our snacks, a book, and a toy, and we hit the road! If you have older kids, run together, or utilize tracks or outdoor trails at your child’s own sports practices. Plan fun holiday races, or family mud runs, and train together. Being social can help keep running fresh and fun. Find a friend who loves to run with you – and let them help push that stroller!

Plan Some “You” Time

Working out with our dearests is wonderful, but be sure to carve out a few times a week where you can be on your own. Exercising not only builds up our strength, but it can help give our minds and bodies energy while decreasing our fatigue. If we know that we will be spending time working out otherwise spent sleeping, decluttering, or hanging with our kiddos, make it worth it. Create a running playlist, or lift weights to a motivating soundtrack. If silence is what you need, use the time to clear your head while you do The 100 (a pilates move I had to google). Check out some beginner pilates moves here! 

 

Have any suggestions or tips for how to include exercise in our lives? Please share! Because we all know, if Mom is healthy and happy, so is our household!

 

Each Day is a Gift

My sister has a tattoo on her wrist; it reads “each day is a gift.” I love it. It’s a good reminder. Especially when some days do NOT feel like a gift but rather like trying to canoe up a waterfall.

My son Declan will be four in two weeks. He is our first kid, our pride and joy, our cautious explorer. He loves to read, fish, build, and swim. Declan made parenting look easy, until more recently as we have approached the world of “time out” in the red chair. But from the start, we gave ourselves a little pat on the back with pep in our step: we got this.

Then along came Kinley. Our sweet little angel arrived almost three weeks early. We should have known then. Her first word was ‘hiyah,’ she walked at nine months, and ate ice cream on her tippy toes well before her first b-day party. Declan affectionately refers to her as baby Godzilla as she terrorizes our house. We were effectively put in our places and my mother doesn’t have to say it: serves me right!

After I went back to work in the spring following my maternity leave, Ryan – the most capable, fabulous, wonderful father, leader, and husband – was left to watch both kids for the first time, all day. We had the following conversation via text message while I was at car duty:

So that’s why I’m staying home.

(Just kidding.)

But as you can see, we can barely keep up with her.

And yet, we wouldn’t have it any other way! We have developed a new mantra in our household that came after many years of teaching primary and only four years of raising littles: be present!

It began when I started teaching.

This pretty much sums up my first month of teaching kindergarten. But it wasn’t just with the kids; it was the stuff. It took me awhile to figure out how to align my Type A neat freak personality with the classroom in front of me. I love things just so. I love books in their baskets, supplies organized to perfection, and desks that support ‘cleanliness is next to godliness.’ But for those of us who have ever actually met a child, we understand that this expectation isn’t quite realistic.

So I came up with a new cool plan. My students learned with freedom and creativity throughout the day. I allowed for mess and movement, and even joined the flexible seating revolution of wobble stools, bean bag cushions and exercise balls as chairs. It wasn’t rocket science… we simply cleaned up at the end of our time together. Voila! We were able to be actively engaged with each other and I wasn’t having a mental breakdown looking at supplies everywhere!

The same goes for my household. Before I became a parent, I had this image of myself chasing my kids around the house with a vacuum. But when our kids entered our world, I realized that my years of classroom cleaning had taught me a valuable lesson. If my preoccupation was with putting things in their place, I would be constantly chasing my tail! If I am busy check-listing my day, I miss moments that are gone too quickly.

So the next time we find ourselves preoccupied with dirty dishes, concern over the current state of mess, or discouraged by an endless to-do list, take a breather and remember that it will all get done. Enlist help, encourage cooperation, whistle while you work… but don’t miss out on the kid right in front of you (or they might end up going after dog poop).

To be present is to be engaged with body and mind. If we hope to parent our kids with intentionality to raise children who will make a difference in the world, let’s jump in and be fully present to make a difference in their world!

Back to School Traditions

It’s back to school season and although this is the first time in thirty years that I don’t actually have a first day of school (after teaching for eight years, I’m trying the stay-at-home mom gig!), I can’t help but get caught up in the excitement and anticipation. But, I am new at this whole school traditions thing. And in the world of posing, posting, and Pinterest, I am way out of my league.

Picture me at the end of last school year. My 3-year-old son was concluding his time with Miss Ann, our dearest friend who had watched him since he was 12 weeks old. After I made the irreversible mistake of going onto Pinterest late one evening, I found myself digging through Declan’s bookshelves by the light of my phone. I was looking, of course, for none other than Oh, The Places You’ll Go, Dr. Seuss’ old classic that has more recently been propelled to the forefront of graduation gifts. As a teacher, I have signed countless copies for students that will then be passed on to future teachers and eventually gifted to the child when he or she graduates.

Why then had I not begun to prepare adequately for my own child??

When my husband found me frantically searching through my then six-month-old’s room for a book, I realized I had perhaps taken the tradition thing a bit too far. Now, traditions are great. They can actually really help our kids feel secure in their family identity, especially around holidays and yearly rituals like going back to school. But to risk waking a sleeping infant? Well, that might have been a bit much.

I decided several things that night that I hope will help me (and maybe you!) think through the tradition choosing more carefully this year. And remember, it’s never too late to start!

1- Start with what you know. I stressed myself out because I felt like if I couldn’t do it all, I shouldn’t do anything. But don’t get so overwhelmed that you miss the fun in commemorating a special day! Think about what you value in your family and what you’re good at. Then run with it!

2- Don’t be afraid to check out new ideas. Better yet, don’t get overwhelmed by different ideas. Pinterest has great ideas, ranging from adorable signs and backpack poses, to teacher gifts and happy back to school songs. What are you good at? If your love language is gifts, you and your child can prepare simple first day of school gifts for your teacher. Let me tell you from experience, you’re getting an ‘A.’ (Just kidding. We don’t even have grades any more!) If you’re a bookworm, choose a book that your child’s teacher can sign and pass on from year to year. Photography your cup of tea? Choose a fun pose for your child to start a tradition of growth each year.

Jessica’s family celebrates by making a cake with the new grade level on it. Jen rings in the new year by taking a picture with the class of 20- shirt on the first day of every year.

 

3 – Move forward with a plan. It’s not too late to start something new or change it up according to your kiddo’s interests. Nothing needs to be permanent, praise the Lord for that- as my 3 year old insists that his first tattoo will be Spider-Man. On my back, Mom. The key is to keep it fresh and interesting, so your child will enjoy this tradition, too! Because let’s face it- freshly sharpened pencils and new school clothes don’t exactly trump summer days in the sunshine. We want to be excited about the new season we are entering, not annoyed by one more item on the checklist.

We finally landed on having teachers sign You Are Special by Max Lucado for Declan, and are now ready and excited for this new year to start. And isn’t life just that? Just the right amount of excitement about what tomorrow might bring without flying through today! Whether you are the type to celebrate back to school with intricately created photo booth props, or the one who takes a pic two weeks late or not at all, think this year about what a meaningful tradition might be for your family to start. So strap on the backpacks, lace up your PF flyers, and say cheese… cuz FY 18-19 is going to be a great one!

Need some extra ideas? Check out a few cute traditions here.