Raise your hand if this scenario sounds familiar: you’re a reasonably healthy person who enjoys fresh air and a few moments to yourself. You may have even exercised regularly at some point within the last 10 years. Then you had a baby.
Ever since becoming a mom, exercise has lurked at the bottom of my priority list (save a stint during my postdoctoral fellowship where I hit the gym on the clock to cope with my misery…). Even now as a professionally happy freelancer, leisurely walks just don’t seem feasible since I constantly have more work than covered hours. If I’m walking I need to be multitasking or going somewhere; it’s not the most mindful, meditative approach, but I’ve come to terms with it.
Last week as Laurel and I drove off to day care, we saw the usual swarm of neighborhood kids and parents walking to the local elementary school. She asked why we don’t walk to school and I responded that school was too far away. And then I paused, realizing that that was actually a lie; school wasn’t that far away. I did some rough mental math and figured that if we could get out the door 10-15 minutes earlier, then maybe I could get Laurel to school, get some exercise and time to myself (on the return), and still start my workday at about the same time.
We’ve hit this routine every day since and I’m amazed by how well it has worked. It’s a peaceful and relaxing way to start the day with Laurel, the return walk allows me time to swing my arms (stroller gets stowed at school), move at my own pace, and let my mind wander, and it is, collectively, probably the most exercise I have had in the last year. This morning I found that the walk also serves as a good opportunity to get a little extra breakfast in Laurel (via cereal in the Snack Trap).
Whether you build in time to walk on your own (even if it’s multitasking time on your own) by walking with your kids to school, getting off the T one stop early (Jon does this on the way to work to clear his mind before heading in to the office), or leaving the kids with a family friend so you can walk to the bank or post office unencumbered, it’ll do wonders for your body and soul. Even after just a handful of round trips of our new routine, I feel clearer in the head during the day, and even think a cute bathing suit might be a possibility this summer.