This summer has been a huge blessing for me. During my time off from teaching I have spent most waking hours in the presence of the most beautiful lady in the whole world – my 5 month old daughter Harper. My days have become jam packed with raising and entertaining this tiny human (via poor attempts at guitar playing, silly dancing, and my new specialty- impressions of Arnold Schwarzenegger…his voice not the whole nanny thing).
One could say that my main objective of my time off is introducing my daughter to this crazy world. This is true. She’s seen some weird stuff (the aforementioned terrible dancing), been some weird places (from tops of mountains all the way to the Atlantic Ocean and the craziest place of all….Kansas City), and has accomplished some of her own athletic goals (mostly taking a giant crap while simultaneously sneezing and spitting up). And I have been there every step of her journey. Hours spent helping this little amazing creature along.
As a parent, you are constantly thinking about what is best for your child. This inevitably leads you to our old friend the Internet which inevitably leads you to state of being overwhelmed by the immense amount of “parenting advice” columns, articles, and forums. This will guide you down a deep dark path of thinking everything you are doing for your child is wrong.
After struggling through the multitude of information a realization will dawn on you: there is so much information refuting each other that it is near impossible to distinguish what is right, wrong, or otherwise. (I compare this to searching “which diet is best?”)
All of a sudden it dawns on you…you have wasted WAY TOO MUCH TIME clicking through information and you are even more confused then you were at the beginning.
Maybe the best thing possible for your child’s development is YOU?
She looks to you as her example for “what life is about.” You are her introduction to the world and are responsible for guiding her through the tricky parts of life. You are her Yoda. If you are a stressed out, negative, distracted, asshole Yoda then guess what she is going to grow up to be???
The best parenting advice I have ever received came from a Freakonomics Podcast (“The Economist’s Guide to Parenting”) where they boiled down the abundance of information to one simple answer:
YOU NEED TO BE HAPPY
This is the key. You are responsible for setting the tone of a positive world outlook for your child to follow.
For me, happiness goes hand in hand with health. When I feel healthy my happiness increases. If I want Harper to grow up to be a happy healthy person I better be an example of a happy healthy person.
Times are busy when you are on full-time parent mode, here are a few guidelines I have found useful to stay healthy as a new parent.
- QUICK WORKOUTS: Kettlebell circuits, bodyweight circuits, 20 minutes of yoga, whatever you can do to get your heart rate up for a short amount of time. Do this multiple times throughout the day whenever the little one is taking a nap or doing her own bellytime workout. (PS- if she’s awake, I will count my reps out loud to a big giant baby smile!)
- WAKE UP EARLY: Baby’s are the masters of sleeping…they require a crap-ton of snooze time. Wake up early and you will generally get a few hours to do whatever you want. You can jam in a nice long yoga session or (if your husband or wife are on-board) go to the gym or have an early morning trail run, bike ride, swim.
- NEW TRAINING PARTNER: Here’s a weird idea: include your baby in the workout.
I spent a fair amount of training in June running with a stroller around a high school track (the extra weight made me a much faster runner when the time came to lose the stroller).
I also take her for a walk in the afternoon (if it is not too hot) through a very hilly part of town (extra challenge: add a backpack with a 35lb Kettlebell and power-hike.)
My favorite way to train with the baby is to add “Baby Play” into my home workouts. This consists of 5 minutes of lifting the baby over my head, benching the baby, dancing with the baby, etc. She always ends these sets with a huge smile.
Or simply go hiking with your child. Babies love the fresh air and the stimulation being in nature brings them (until they promptly fall asleep five minutes in…too relaxed).
WARNING WITH ALL OF THESE: make sure your baby is properly hydrated, it isn’t too hot or humid, she is shaded so she doesn’t get a sunburn, you don’t drop the baby, you don’t run your baby in front of a car, a hawk doesn’t swoop down and steal the baby, Steve Guttenberg doesn’t raise your baby in a 3 Men and a Baby type situation, your baby doesn’t accidently catch you singing KE$HA, your baby doesn’t somehow get raised by a pack of wolves and has to be reintroduced to society years later, at no point should your baby climb aboard a rocket ship and blast to the moon, and OF COURSE by no means should your child listen to the “music” of Justin Bieber.
In all seriousness, do not let your new found parenthood become an excuse for being unhealthy. A healthy parent is a happy parent and happiness is key to a child’s success in this crazy world.
Have fun, be safe, and be happy!