It’s time to face the facts: I am sporting a full-on baby bump. Not a pregnant baby bump—good God, can you imagine?—or even a post-baby baby bump. This is more of an ‘I have a breastfeeding infant, an unbalanced preschooler, and a busy husband, so baby, I will eat cupcakes and bacon if I want to,’ kind of a bump.
The don’t-hold-the-mayo approach to life does a pretty good job of keeping the blues away, but it also keeps the skinny jeans away. (Or any non-elastic waistband pants, for that matter). Since I’m not ready to give up the brownies, yet, I’ve decided it’s time for exercise.
After S was born, I tried one of those baby boot camp classes. As it turns out, hanging with a bunch of highly competitive, hormonal, sleep-deprived new moms while someone is barking at us to run faster and then drop for ten is not my idea of a good time. I mean, they want me to do ten pushups? I just had a baby! I spent most of the class looking around for someone who was as miserable as me so we could cut out and talk about baby spit-up over coffee and scones.
This time around, I’m trying to work the work-out into my regular activities. I’ve devised some moves any mom can do—check it out!
Newborn Tub Time Toner
Works: abs, back, arms, legs
You might dread those first baby baths as much as I do—there’s water, porcelain, a wiggly, slippery body—major recipe for disaster. But at some point, things start to get kind of funky, especially up in those neck folds, and sponge baths just aren’t cutting it. Tub time!
How to do it: In this exercise, you kneel on the ground, while contorting your body so that your upper half is leaning entirely over the bathtub; your left arm nestles the newborn in the baby tub, while the right arm reaches the opposite way to search for the washcloth/soap/towel you dropped. This arm may also be used for fending off an older sibling, creating even more toning action. You must hold this uncomfortable position until baby is clean, usually five to ten minutes. You must also smile and relax and coo at baby so that she enjoys bath time.
How often: Hardcore moms do this every day (I know, right?), but I find once or twice a week works well for us.
Explosive Poo Arm Squeeze
Works: Arms, core
This is a great strength trainer. I’ve seen it used mostly with dads and childless friends, but there’s no reason moms can’t do it, too.
How to do it: When you notice the telltale signs in your baby (first a grimace and squirm, followed by a distinct squirting sound), engage your abs, pick baby up and extend arms straight in front of you while you carry him to the appropriate diaper changing station. You may want to get your neck involved by doing a few head turns (this also helps avoid bothersome smells). If you want to up the level of this workout, you can do a couple of presses, bringing baby into and then away from your chest, but be warned that you may get stained.
How often: You can never really predict the explosive poo, but you will likely find yourself doing this several times a day in the beginning, and less often as your baby grows. Note: you may have to follow with the Newborn Tub Toner.
Car Seat Arm Curls
Works: Biceps, triceps, shoulder
I often find myself doing the Frankenstein lurch, balancing the car seat against one straight leg as I haul it to and from the car. There is a better way, ladies.
How to do it: Using a straight arm, lift the car seat—without letting it touch the leg!—and carry to your destination. Before you put it down, curl your bicep, lifting the car seat as high as possible. This one is tricky, so work up to it. This exercise has the benefit of growing with you (assuming that you feed your baby).
How often: Several times a day. Don’t forget to alternate arms!
Works: Back, abs, arms, legs
As a new mom, you’ve probably experimented with various ways to soothe your crying baby. Some babies like to be walked; others like to comfort nurse. When baby N gets the fusses, she wants to be walked and nurse. At the same time.
How to do it: Drop your shoulders and lift your chest. Engage abs, hold baby laterally across your chest so you can nurse her, and walk rhythmically around and around the house. If baby is still fussing, you may need to throw in some bouncing or lunges. If, at some point, you notice that it’s gotten dark and your blinds are still open and you’re showing side-boob to the whole neighborhood, you can add in the aerobic element of jogging over to the window to take care of that.
How often: Possibly every night around 7:00 for the first few months of baby’s life.
Works: Kegel muscles
First of all, if you don’t know about Kegels, then your OB/midwife was remiss in not mentioning them. I’ll let you go ahead and google “Kegel” to learn more. For everyone else, I know you thought you were done with Kegels once baby was born, but the health of your pelvic floor is still important. Some day you will find yourself in a bounce house with other small children and their parents, and when that day comes, I guarantee that you will want full control of your bladder. M’kay?
How to do it: While rocking your baby, simply find your Kegel muscles and squeeze! If you rock a child to sleep every night, this is a great way to pass the time, and you'll have Kegels of steel in no time.
How often: Up to 100 reps, once a day or as needed.
Preschooler Play-With-Me Aerobics
Works: total body
Science has revealed that human beings have the most energy of their lives when they are three years old. Pretty much anything you do with them qualifies as aerobic activity, but I’ll make a few suggestions anyway.
How to do it: There are many variations. At our house, some favorites include Simon Says—let your child be Simon and you will jump, wave, wiggle and skip at her will; “Witches”—dash from room to room to escape said witches; “Lasso”— gallop, circle one arm in the air and shout “Lasso! Lasso! Lasso!”; and good old Dance Party—crank up your favorite tunes and get down as you please. Note: these games may invoke lots of, “No, Mommy, not like that; like this!” (meaning higher, faster, harder, and more exhausting).
How often: Several times a day for a few years.
Tantrum Tamer Total Body Work Out
Works: abs, arms, legs
Despite your attempts to be a loving, attached parent, holding plenty of “time-ins” with your child, at some point you may have to use a time-out. Perhaps your child just threw a second book at your head, or responded to the outrageous suggestion that she eat another bite of peas by dumping her plate upside down. Onto your plate. Yummy. Anyway, whatever time-out method you use, there may be times when your child simply won’t stay there. Instead, he will follow you, shrieking, kicking, swinging, etc, and you have to physically carry him back to the designated spot. Maybe only once or twice; maybe thirty times. Don’t fret; you are getting a great workout.
How to do it: Engage abs, bend knees—not your back—and pick up your child. If she will let you hold her close, by all means do this. If she is kicking you or doing the wet noodle, you may have to hold her at arm’s length. Make sure you breathe during this exercise! An added benefit of using this technique is that you will become very Zenlike, contemplating your future six-pack rather than losing your cool or wondering if you could still catch the last flight to Hawaii.
How often: If you're lucky, not often at all
Well, moms, there you have it. I hope that you can incorporate some of these exercises into your daily life and watch the pounds melt away. I’m sure you’ll also develop your own moves—please share them in the comments!
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. Consult with your doctor before beginning any training regimen. In fact, if you are looking to me for advice, you may also want to consult your mental health provider. Just saying.