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Playful Self-Discipline: Fun Family Exercise

Time to check in on my Playful Self-Discipline project! January’s theme is physical health, and last week I wrote about the steps I took to ensure I get a good sleep, which involved night weaning my 20 month old toddler, Claire. This week I’m looking at my self-discipline around exercise.

snowshoeing with a toddler

Can you spot the clue that indicates we are moving into the willful toddler stage? Every time we put her hat on, she ripped it right off again. Sigh.

Staying Fit When You’re a Parent

Being active has always been something I really enjoy doing. In High School I was a lifeguard at my local swimming pool, in University I loved going for long solo runs through river valley trails and going out dancing (really DANCING) all night long every couple of weeks. When I met Tom we would go for long hikes on camping trips or go canoeing in the Rockies, and I did a lot of yoga and went hill walking after moving to Ireland.

Now that I’ve got two little people to take care of, being active is both more important and (like so many other things) harder to carve out the time and energy for. There is a certain amount of exercise involved in chasing after or constantly lifting/carrying a toddler, but I find it can wear me down more than exercising at the gym would. A close call with a muscle strain last year was also a warning that taking care of a heavy baby or toddler without keeping my muscles strong and evenly balanced could put me at risk for a repetitive strain injury.  We still go camping and hiking, but it’s less about the exercise now, and more about having a kid-paced adventure in nature.

Exercise is Easier When it’s Fun

Right now my weekly exercise mostly consists of one 75 minute long Zumba class per week, maybe a couple hours walking around my neighbourhood at toddler pace, and sometimes an hour or two spent walking in the woods on the weekend. Last week we went snowshoeing, which was amazing, but it’s not something I can do by myself with two young kids.

Zumba is totally fun, and an excellent boot in my overly-serious bum when I’m feeling stiff and cranky. It’s hard to be irritable when you’re Salsa dancing. It also gives me a chance to jump around and get my heart rate up, listen to upbeat music and get my groove on. I can’t really go out dancing at nightclubs anymore, but I can go nuts at Zumba.

My Playful Goals for Exercise

Over the course of 2011 I want to incorporate more playful exercise into my everyday life with Beatrice and Claire. I’m aiming to have a chunk of time every day where we run around outside together, rain or shine. I want to teach Bea how to throw a frisbee and catch a ball, how to ride her bike without the training wheels and swim without a pool noodle. In the spring and summer I want to have family bike rides when the weather is good. For a while we might not be fully up to speed, but I have a feeling the more we get out there the more fun it will be. I also want to keep up my weekly Zumba class, and not let it slide into the “can’t be bothered” pile.

It’s easy for me to think about exercise being a playfully self-disciplined activity. It’s Zumba and frisbees and bike rides and snowshoes! It’s fun! The challenge, I think, will be staying playful and forgiving when my kids can’t keep up with my ideal pace, and keeping up my motivation to get out there with the kids even when it doesn’t result in as much exercise for me as I’d like.

What does your weekly exercise routine look like? Do you do sports and other physical activities with your kids, or do they do them in classes without you? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments.

Also, I’d like to remind you that at the end of January I’ll be hosting a link-up, where everyone can share blog posts on their experiences with playful self-discipline and physical health. You can link up an older post you’ve already written a post on the topic or write something new for the link up. I’m really looking forward to it!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Rachael January 13, 2011, 7:30 am

    I try to go running twice a week, though really I haven’t been trying too hard the past few weeks, plus the weather here isn’t co-operating. I can feel the difference, and I don’t like it. I’d love to have a short but regular yoga practice: not dependent on the weather, and perhaps the little guy could join in. Not sure how to go about getting that started, though. I’d love to hear what you do with your little ones to get moving when the outdoors aren’t so inviting.

    • michelle January 13, 2011, 8:55 pm

      Trying to get outside can be tough, but here on the west coast we’re usually just dealing with lots of rain in the winter instead of freezing temps. Bad-weather exercise is usually disguised as an errand – walking to the library or something where we can go inside and warm up/dry out for a while mid-way. Trying to make it part of the routine helps too. I try to get us all outdoors between 3-4pm, which helps reduce the pre-dinner mania that happens otherwise. We’re not managing to get out for a huffing and puffing kind of play every day though. It’s still very much a work in progress.

  • Amber January 15, 2011, 9:35 pm

    My daughter goes to kindergarten at the neighbourhood school, so right now my exercise routine involves two 20-minute-round-trip walks to drop her off and then pick her back up every weekday. There is a big hill involved, and I have my 2 1/2 year old in the stroller, so it’s actually a fair bit of work.

    And I go to power yoga once a week, which is AWESOME. Not exactly playful, but totally rejuvenating and really powerful.

    The school walk isn’t really playful, but I bet I could make it so. I need to stop freaking out so much about being late, I think. The yoga, on the other hand, is fine as it is.