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Choosing Between My Child and My Body

Work life balance

Self-care? That sounds familiar.

If you knew me before I had my son, you’d describe me as a physically active person. I’ve been a dancer my whole life and since moving west, a regular frequenter of yoga too. I jumped (or mostly lumbered) around the dance studio well into my third trimester — much to the chagrin of my husband, who would rather have seen me napping and packing away ice cream on the couch.

So when a friend warned me to get back in the habit of being active quickly after I had my son — “It’s been two years and I rarely work out” she told me — I brushed it off. I wouldn’t be that way – I’d get right back into shape.

Here I am — my son is almost three, and I can count on two hands the number of times I’ve seen the inside of a dance studio. I may have shed the pounds of pregnancy, but I’ve also shed other things I wish I could have back:

For one, apparently my muscles have melted away — except the one on the bicep of my left arm, of course, which I’ve been using to pick up my son for the last 1,000 days and counting. And I can be found regularly squatting to pick up toys off the floor (sometimes while holding my son), so maybe my quad muscles are woken up periodically too.

This body take-over of motherhood obviously started with pregnancy and peaked with breastfeeding, but it’s evened out to a more subtle, chronic problem whereby my list of priorities starts with making sure my son is healthy and in one piece, spending time with him, working, eking out time with my husband…

On the bottom of the list, just above going to the dentist or getting an oil change (actually those things come first too) seems to be my own self-care.  It’s not as if I say to myself consciously that my child and all family responsibilities are more important than my health (both mental and physical, since for me exercise feeds both).  In fact I think the opposite: the good-old “secure your own oxygen mask first” applies and I need to figure out how to embrace this idea more fully.

How do you do it? Have you found a balance between family life and your own self-care, especially when it comes to exercise? Please share!

Read 6 more real parents’ stories of choosing between their kids and …

Image: flickr

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