I went out for a relaxing Sunday brunch recently but my heart sank as I arrived back home to see black smoke billowing from my house. After turning inside out at least ten different bags and pram pockets for what seemed like an eternity, I found my phone to dial 911.
I have been embracing motherhood now for just over four months. And it has been a steep learning curve. Before becoming a mum, despite having read so many baby books, I could never have anticipated all the mental and physical challenges ahead of me. Never has time been so precious and the to-do list been so long, especially as Christmas draws nearer.
These days, sure I have less time on my hands but the tricky part is how unpredictable it can be. Once the stork arrives with your little bundle, what happens one hour to the next is a guessing game. And on the odd occasion, when the baby does fall asleep, I find myself acting like a scared rabbit, frozen in front of car headlights. I take a nose dive into adrenalin pumping, multi-tasking chaos: “Wash the baby’s clothes.” “No wait, decorate the Christmas tree.” “More important to pump milk.” “Hang on, write Christmas cards.”
Never have I left the house and forgotten to turn off the cooker but the other day it happened. Firstly I was disappointed in myself and then I realized that with all the pressure that motherhood places on you, nobody’s perfect and mistakes are going to happen.
Thankfully, through all the mayhem, the one thing I have been able to keep up is exercise. Regardless of how little sleep I get, I feel grounded and able to cope knowing that my body is being treated well. And when the body is in better nick, I’m a happier, more energized mum for Harley too.
In the first few weeks after Harley was born, I started a new trend by cycling in my pyjamas. Luckily for the neighbors, I was on my spin bike surrounded by the four walls of our garage. Spinning my legs for only fifteen minutes, it was possibly the shortest workout ever but it felt great. No gym kit required and by stepping up the pace, I felt all the benefits of a longer workout.
The days passed by and it was time to step outside. Feeling confident and coping with a newborn away from the house is no easy feat. But I was told about a “baby and me” yoga class here in Venice and thought I’d give it a shot. Harley dribbles in front of me while I ease my broken body into ‘downward dog’ or ‘happy baby.’ And on that note, sometimes the baby is happy, leaving me feeling like an athlete or sometimes he is restless in which case I’d be lucky to manage any poses at all. At first I felt so frustrated but then I learned to let go of planning and wanting things to go my way because nine times out of ten, they weren’t going to!
I’ve found it can be really worthwhile taking advantage of those short windows of opportunity such as when the baby naps or while he plays peacefully. I am by no means able to get to the gym as much as I used to, but finding sixty seconds for a push up, kegel exercises or a stretch over the yoga blocks can be so reviving. I’ve found a little goes a long way.
As my body recovered, I started to take one of our baby gifts, the jogger stroller out for a spin. Crazy as it sounds, the baby actually keeps me fit since as soon as I stop jogging, he wakes up. Thanks Harley! So while it seems an impossibility to stay on top form as a mum, actually the reverse is true. I can’t stop the flow of endless tasks but I have become a little more skilled at letting go of trying to cultivate the perfect workout but seizing the opportunities to be active.
When time is tight, I’m not going to get everything right. I can’t stop the fires starting but I can stay a little more content knowing that regardless of the mayhem, by moving when I can, I’m healthier on the inside and hopefully a little more glowing on the outside.