Best Workout Times for Working Mums (or anyone, for that matter)
Straight off the bat, I’d like to confess something. I’ve been feeling somewhat of a fraud by calling myself a working mum. Sure, I’m doing a PhD (fulltime) and work as a GP one day a week. I pretty much have a nine-day fortnight. But my Uni work is very flexible – I can work from home, and I am almost completely autonomous. My supervisor has known me for years, and understands that I am very self-directed and I can deliver the goods even when working under pressure (for example, my crazy experiment of working from home with a small baby and then toddler for almost a year). And I don’t work long hours. First and foremost, I don’t find I am productive for more than six or seven hours a day anyway. So I get to Uni around 9, and head home around 4ish. I work similar hours at the clinic.
Don’t get me wrong, it took me a long time to get to this point. I wasn’t handed this awesome work week on a silver platter. Plus I choose to live on a scholarship. And I am a honest mum. I don’t have any family support here in Melbourne. I cook, I clean, and my husband and I divvy every domestic task between the two of us. There’s nobody to mind my kids when I want to go for a run except for him – no grandma around the corner. (I do have a cleaner! For my sanity!)
So now that I’ve got that off my chest, here’s something I wanted to share with you all. I’ve been falling into a routine of workouts during the week that seem to lift me up at exactly the right times, banish the grumpy mummy blues, send my spirits soaring, and see me coming home feeling completely pumped and full of “Yeah!!! I can do it! I’m AWESOME!! Life is AWESOME!!” Call it endorphins, call it stress management, call it whatever you will, but this feeling rocks, and I don’t want to give it up. And the pattern I’ve fallen into seems to tweak the working week in just the right way so that I’m feeling energetic and happy at all the right times (which is, most of the time!)
It’s been counter-intuitive to what I thought (I initially thought that getting my workouts done during the weekend would be the most sustainable. Wrong!) Hear me out and maybe give it a try. You have nothing to lose! If you can tweak your week a bit, it’s worth it.
I know, I know. Monday mornings generally produce groans all round, and a “blah” feeling. Which makes them a perfect time to bust the Monday blues. What a better way to start the week than a heart-pumping workout (your choice – mine is a long run: 10km/one hour) first thing in the morning? You know you’ve got your week set with this under your belt. You’ll start the week (a little bit more) enthused, relaxed and energetic. Even if it’s a short, sharp 20 minutes, try to get this one in first thing on Monday morning. I choose to work at home on Mondays so the time I save on commuting is my running time. I drop the kids off at 8am, and am at my desk, showered and coffee in hand, by 9:30am, feeling fantastic.
I usually have a rest day on Tuesdays, as this is the day after my long run, and also my clinic day – which can be unpredictable and are usually exhausting. By Wednesday I am itching for some exercise, as the effects of the endorphins are starting to wear off and I’m getting edgy. Plus it’s Hump Day and all. So on Wednesday afternoons I squeeze in a 20-30 minute run or HIIT session. Hubby gets the kids from daycare (this saves me half an hour). When they get home, mummy’s had a shower and is getting dinner ready with a smile instead of a growl!
Yep, Fridays ain’t about Friday night drinks any more in our household. Oh, Friday night drinks!! Much like the weekend sleep-ins, I’ve kissed these goodbye. Now, as many of you know, Friday night HIIT is my poison. 20 minutes and I’m ready for the weekend!! Woot!!
I used to plan runs on the weekends. If I get them done first thing, that’s great. Sometimes, if we don’t have much on, hubby will take the kids to the playground while I run around the park, or I’ll take the older kidlet out in the pram while the toddler has an afternoon nap. But sometimes the weekend just gets away from us, and I just let it. My weeks are so regimented, so scheduled, down to the minute. I’m kind of happy just to go with the flow on weekends. I try to keep it flexible and not intrude on my family’s time too much. After all, we love spending time with the kids on the weekend, and it’s nice to catch up with family and friends too, plus there are birthday parties to go to, groceries to get… If someone calls and asks us to come over for lunch, I’ll say yes please, and fit in a workout sometime else. I can always pop down to the treadmill after dinner, or do some HIIT in my room if we have a spare 20 minutes. If I get one workout done on the weekends, I’m pretty happy.
Oh I wish my early mornings were for working out! I’m reading a book at the moment for mother runners, and there’s a lot of talk about the 5:30am run. Yeah, well that works if your kids wake at 7am. It’s not uncommon for me to be wide awake at 5am with a toddler racing around the loungeroom with energy to burn. I could take him out for a run, but it’s winter – which means pitch black, freezing weather. I’ve tried doing HIIT but I hit him accidentally while doing a burpee! I let my husband sleep in a little bit as he works late into the night. But as soon as my littlest one decides to not wake at this ungodly hour any more, I’ll be doing the 5:30 run (on the treadmill) or HIIT session for sure.
I’d be really interested to hear how you go if you take on some of the above unsolicited advice from moi. (I’m always very chuffed when someone emails to say they did what I suggested! Wow!!) I feel that planning your workouts in this fashion will self-perpetuate the exercise routine, as it becomes something to sustain wellbeing and happiness instead of a chore. But really, any time that works for you is a great time to get fit and active, so don’t just take my word for it – you choose what works best for you, your work and home situation and your family! Happy Hump Day!!