For the past few months, I have made the conscious decision to actively parent my children. Not in terms of involvement — I already treat motherhood as if it’s my full-time, ’round-the-clock job — but in terms of physical activity.
Instead of feeling bitter and guilty for not being able to cram a workout into my nutty day, I make my nutty day my workout. If I can fit in some extra squats, planks, ab work, and such I will, but I don’t feel defeated if I can’t. I work my body in other ways.
If the kids are playing outside and I am presented with the option to sit or stand, I stand. If I am granted the opportunity to play with the kids or remain uninvolved, I play. If I am asked to give a piggyback, I bounce to up the fun and workout intensity.
This habit has not only made playtime more fun and helped me manage my weight, but I also feel more contented at the end of long kid-wrangling days. It has increased my appreciation for my body too.
I most certainly have things I would like to adjust about my body, things I’m still working on, and things I’ve learned to accept, but my strength and endurance are aspects I honor. What’s better: those are the exact elements I can control.
As I continue my active parenting efforts, I feel my body’s strength and endurance increase and that makes me proud. Not of myself, but of my body. “Did I really just play chase with three kids around a playground while nursing my baby in the carrier? Yes, yes I did!” “Did I really just bounce-skip up that hill carrying a 20lb baby and a 30lb preschooler? Yes, yes I did!” “Did I really just give double-piggyback rides to my 3-year-old and nearly -5-year-old 10 times across a pool? Yes, yes I did!” How could you not appreciate your body for allowing you to do that?
Not only am I happier feeling stronger and more accomplished, my kids are enjoying the playful parenting. (I’m still strict, but I can play too.) I feel contented knowing I’m making sustainable strides towards a happier, healthier life, and simultaneously enjoying and building memories with my children.
If decades from now I am able to play tag with my grandkids, if I’m able to carry all of my groceries inside without a second thought, if I’m able to live life without physical limitations, what a gift that would be. That is my goal. Until then, I’ll plan to have fun along the way.