Thrive, not just survive being a stay at home mom. Tips from the trenches.

Thrive, not just survive being a stay at home mom. Tips from the trenches.

The thought for this post came to me after I was struggling to put my screaming son into a cart at Costco. I haven’t always been a stay at home mom. Here’s my motherhood story in a nutshell. I had my oldest just 2 weeks before turning 21. A few years later, I was a divorced mom of 2 kids earning a degree in social work with no family support (they lived 8 hours away). Twelve years later and I was married with 2 more kids and I working full time as a social worker. I LOVED my job but like so many parents, I was finding less enjoyment in my career. My husband works between 50-65 hours a week and it was tough to be away. After a lot of discussion, we decided would stay at home. It’s been 3 years. Here is what I have learned (believe me, I am still learning and I do not claim to be an expert on this):

  1. Let go of any expectations. I had an idea in my head of how this would work. I would be put together, pristine house, happy children who adored their mother, warm meals, ample gym time, daily learning lessons for kids, outings, crafts and cooking. I am here to tell you, let it go girlfriend! Some days I am just surviving here, counting down the minutes until bed time and a glass of wine! It’s ok, it is. Some days I am in yoga pants, even pj’s until lunch. My kids fight, I am the “worst mommy ever” on occasion, meals are often leftovers or whatever can be scrounged up. Daily lessons… well that’s just not me, there’s preschool for that. That’s cool though, I know who I am and what I am good at. P.S. don’t stress over dust and various scattered toys……. let it go!
  2. Explore your weaknesses. I am the most unorganized person! I procrastinate and am usually struggling to find that permission slip wedged in some drawer somewhere. Be honest, figure out what areas you need to improve on and put strategies in place to help,Here are a few that help me. I make lists and use my planner on my phone. I have a small notebook I keep with me for random lists. I use my phone planner and it’s alerts for EVERYTHING! You’d be surprised how easy it is to forget an appointment when you are trying to get the laundry done, playing dress up, and refereeing sibling squabbles. Plus I find that often, my husband and I forget to communicate appointments and various events. I just add him to the planner events and he is alerted too.
  3. Talk to your significant other. Before taking the leap into stay at home parenting, sit down and have a discussion about what your expectations are. I honestly think my husband thought that the house would be close to spotless and he wouldn’t have to do much at home. It is very important, in order to avoid future fights or resentment, to honestly talk about what you both are expecting, and then revisit it after being home for a while once you have a chance to really experience this stay at home thing. You might think you can keep the house clean, make a from scratch meal nightly, play with your darlings, and get a workout in. However, once you are in the trenches, you might find that maybe you can’t do it all, or you are, but you are losing your mind in the process. I really believe that the working parent struggles most with the homemaking portion of having a significant other at home. So talk, be honest.
  4. Don’t lose yourself. I see so many at home parents lose sight of who they are. Continue to feed your brain, learn new things, explore hobbies.
  5. Take care of you! If you are going to take care of others, you need to be at your best. Do not feel guilty taking care of you! Workout, read ALONE (something non educational and maybe trashy), get a massage, whatever you need to stay in balance. When I am stressed, I have way less tolerance for my kids and husband.
  6. Find new friends. I found that my old work friends and I didn’t have much in common any more. They will always hold a special place in my heart, we were just in different worlds. I found some amazing friends while working out and running. I can text one when I am having a rough day and we can have an impromptu play date. We can visit each others houses and not have to explain the mess. Sometimes one or both of us are still in PJ’s!
  7. Date your spouse. Go on dates and have alone time with your spouse. Do not stay in the parent role all the time with your significant other. Get all gussied up and hit the town, find new hobbies to enjoy together (we might try tennis).
  8. You are important. This is a tough one. Especially if you left a career. I still find myself having to tell people that I’m not “just a stay at home mom”, that I have a degree an chose to leave my career. Whether you have a degree or not, what you do matters!
  9. Stay active. Do not just sit around all day and watch TV. I know that is a stereotype, but some people do. You are wasting your life by doing this. Being at home is not an excuse to be lazy. Be present in you child’s life, play, get out, workout. I say workout a lot, don’t I? It’s important to stay physically active to not only keep up with our little darlings, but to stay healthy. Get up and live the life that you chose!

BONUS: If you aren’t happy, go back to work! No one said this had to be permanent. Being at home isn’t for everyone and that’s ok.

Full body circuit workout and a breakfast recipe

Full body circuit workout and a breakfast recipe

As I have mentioned before, I am a part time fitness instructor. I decided to change up my class a bit and do some full body circuits. So far the class loves it. So I thought I would share a sample class with you. I try to mix things up a bit. I’m one of those crazy people who, in my down time, scour the internet for new ideas for exercises. In the shower I’ll think “oh, why not add a twist jump cartwheel to a lunge. Ok, maybe not that crazy, but you get the picture.

So the way my class is set up is I have four stations with four focused exercises (one cardio). The students do each exercise for 45 seconds before moving on to the next. They complete all four stations, take a water break and then do it once more. You can always add or subtract time based on time and fitness level. 45 seconds work for my class. There are always modifications, especially on the cardio portion. Jumps could be more steps or pulses. For newbies or those who might be recovering from an injury, I have them march in place with big swinging arms.   If it is stated to do same side, just do the other side the second time through. If you are doing this in class, I suggest telling everyone to start with the right or left side (assign a side). Students always forget which side the did the first time around.

Detailed workout description: 

 
Legs:

  1. Side lunge into Curtsy (weights optional) same leg
  2. Glute bridge ball roll out (feet on ball, hips up, roll feet in and out) to make this more difficult, keeps arms raised, to make easier, place them by your sides.
  3. Low squat pulse
  4. CARDIO: Squat > lunge jumps (squat, jump, left leg lunge, jump, squat, jump, right leg lunge)

Upper

  1. Fly into overhead back extension
  2. Shoulder press into bicep curl
  3. Bent over row, heavy weight, same side
  4. CARDIO: Burepee’s (with or without push-up)

Abs

  1. Star twist: lay on back arms and legs out like a star, lift leg straight and bring hand to opposite foot
  2. hip drops (forearm plank and drop hips side to side)
  3. scissor kicks
  4. CARDIO: Plank Jacks

Combo

  1. Split squat (foot on step or bench) with a bicep curl into single leg dead lift (same leg)
  2. Plank with lateral raise (weighted same side or both, personal preference) modification is knee plank
  3. Seal Walk (feet on towel and walk with your arms while dragging feet behind)
  4. CARDIO: High Knees

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. You can always Google a move to get great examples. 

Ok, now the recipe. Eggs are a great way to start the day, however I’m not always a big fan. So I threw together a recipe that can be made 2 ways, depending on my time and patience level. I make the pancake form if I have more time. The pancake is a bit more delicate since it is made without flour. It needs to be cooked on a lower temperature for longer time, and can fall apart when flipped. To speed things up, I’ll just make it in scramble form. I added measurements for those of you who need exact, but this is really a personal preference thing. I add a handful of nuts and coconut, a drizzle of extract, and so on. Make it however you like! 

 Flour Free Pancake/Scramble

 Mashed Banana

1 egg

1/8-1/4 cup nuts (I like pecans or walnuts)

1/8 cup shredded coconut (optional)

1/2 tsp vanilla or almond extract (I like almond)

honey if desired

preheat skillet (Med low for pancakes, Med for scramble). once warm add coconut oil or butter to melt. While pan is heating mix all ingredients. Pour into pan. If making the pancake, tenderly flip once the bottom is browned. If making the scramble, just mix a bit after it sets up a bit, turning and mixing to crisp it up a bit. Enjoy!!

Thanks for stopping by!!

Easy ways to fit in fitness

Easy ways to fit in fitness

You’re busy, I get it. I totally feel you. After work (even if you are a stay at home parent), school, kids, friends, errands, what have you, the last thing you have time or energy for is to workout. Not just that, but if you are like most parents, there is a large amount of guilt that goes with taking time away from your kids to workout. So here’s a little list I threw together to maybe spark some ideas and help you out!

  • take the stairs not the elevator or escalator.
  • do squats, lunges, toe raises, standing crunches, while you cook and or do dishes.
  • fit in fitness during kids bath time. Put the kids in the tub and do what you can right there in the bathroom or hallway. You can even work in some cardio (jump squats, jump lunges, just Google HIIT for ideas).
  • Just like above, fit it in at work. Take a few minutes several times a day to bust out some moves.
  • Walk for your lunch.
  • scale the stairs- have a stairwell at work? Throw on some earbuds and walk, run, lunge, side step up and down those bad boys.
  • Take the kids to the playground and get creative with the equipment. You can do tons of TRX type stuff with the swings. Pull-ups on a bar. Run around the playset.
  • Get up early and workout. My kids are up before the sun, so I was never a fan of this, but maybe this plan works better for you.
  • create a plan that you can do at home after the kids go to sleep.
  • Park WAY out in the parking lot when you go shopping.
  • Make it a family affair. Involve the kids. Make an obstacle course in your backyard. Go for a walk or bike ride.
  • Throw the kids in the stroller and walk with a friend, or alone, whatever.
  • Make it a playdate. Grab some friends and get creative in the backyard. I have a friend that comes over in the summer. We give the kids a bunch of outside stuff to do and we make stations to rotate. We use the wagon (with sides removed) for step ups, sprint the yard, push-ups, get creative with it.
  • Get over the guilt. Taking a little time for you a few times a week is important. We need to take care of ourselves in order to take care of others. Plus it’s a great example for our loved ones!

You can do this, Just remember taking the time to get fit and active will also give you more energy to do the things you want to do. Give yourself permission to focus on you a bit.

What do you do to get moving and fit fitness in?

Thanks for reading!

Marathoning and a lower body strength combo

Marathoning and a lower body strength combo

Marathon training is in full swing. I am creeping closer to my 3rd marathon on April 26th. I have high hopes. This is my first training cycle that I am really aiming for some high goals. My hope is to qualify for Boston this year. This training season so far has been tough though. Being a northerner has made running outside pretty tough. So if I can’t qualify at this race, I’ll try again in the fall when training is a bit “easier”.

     This training has consisted of the traditional long runs (once a week), speed work, and some tempo runs. I am making sure I still get in my strength training, which is crazy important to help prevent injury. This season I am including three 20 mile long runs. One down, and 2 to go (the second of which is this weekend). I’ve been really lucky to have some pretty awesome running buddies to train with. Makes these long runs so much better, especially since many (including the the first 20 miler) have been done inside my local Y.

During my off season, I usually do more weighted leg exercises. However, since I want to keep my legs strong, I have been doing mostly body weight lower body exercises. When I work out this way, I try and include some HIIT (high intensity interval training).  I’ll share with you one of my favorite lower body combo’s that hurts so good! If you aren’t sure what something is, just Google it or comment and I’ll help you out! I also made avideo for runners if you wold like more ideas. If you watch, please ignore my kids sneaking in the background, just keeping it real.

The following, unless specified, is done for 30-60 seconds. Do this combo 3 times Can use free weights to kick it up!

Squat Combo: 15 reps, holding the 15th and pulsing 10

Narrow Squat

Squat (feet just past hip width)

Sumo Squat (feet wide)

Squat Jump (HIIT)

Side lunge into Curtsy Lunge- right leg

Side lunge into Curtsy Lunge- left leg

Lunge Jump (HIIT)

Reverse Lunge then bring knee up- right leg

Reverse lunge knee up- left leg

Rolling toe to heel (start on tip toes roll to heels bringing toes up)

Wall Taps (HIIT)

Try it out and let me know what you think! It is a tough one so start where you are and progressively add time!

Pistal Squat