Confession time: I was one of those idiot PTs, back before I had a kid, who was pretty dismissive of the difficulties of training around having kids. Well, dismissive probably isn’t the right word – I was maybe a little ‘how hard can it be, just get on with it’.
Given I’ve now got four years of experience training whilst having a small child, my opinion hasn’t *completely* changed, but it’s certainly mellowed. I’ve been able to train 3-4x a week (as has my partner) whilst running a business that demands 60+hrs of my time every week. My situation is hardly unique; plenty of people manage it.
That said: it ain’t easy.
Here’s the lessons I’ve learned:
- Focus on what’s important.
And no, it’s not the training, and it’s not the diet. It’s your health, and the health of your family. Who cares if Mum and Dad are fit and look great on holiday if the kid gets no attention at home? Never, ever put your training before your kid. It’s really not worth it.
Flip side? “Affix your own mask before helping others” (sorry for the mask analogy!). There’s a reason for this – you can’t help someone else if you’re in a torrid state yourself. Fix the basics. If you are very overweight, losing some weight is probably the best gift you can give your family. It just dramatically increases every health metric there is, and let’s face it, kids want Mum and Dad to be around for as long as possible.
- Training won’t make up for slacking on your nutrition
As a parent you are going to be exposed to more foods that are OK for busy kids, but not so great for parents watching a waistline. You’re also going to be tired, stressed and as such, have a FAR lower resistance to temptation. Be aware of why you’re reaching for easy, poor nutrition and make a plan to help yourself – batch cooking, keeping a freezer full of “good” ready meals and limiting your reliance on easy food and takeaways.
- Training needs to be manageable.
Especially with young kids, you’re going to struggle training 4-5-6 times a week unless you’re incredibly disciplined and have a high-end goal. The lack of sleep thing, the nutrition thing, the stress thing: it all conspires.
It’s worth picking a plan that you can genuinely devote 2 or 3 hours a week to, rather than one destined to failure because you can’t train every day. Much better to have a two or three times a week training plan that you complete, week in, week out, than one you fail every week and feel guilty about. Training should complement your life, not stress you out even more.
Most people can get great results training three times a week. Don’t get suckered into thinking you’re slacking if you can’t train daily – that’s social media thinking, not real world thinking. You need to recover from training, and let’s face it, when you have kids the weekend is no respite. It’s often harder work than the week!
- Temper your expectations
Don’t get me wrong – always aim high. Aim too low and you’ll always get subpar results. Targets and goals exist for a reason, to drag you higher than you would otherwise go.
But, if you’re brand new to training and you’re starting while you’ve got a young family, you’re unlikely to develop a cover model physique in months (actually, no-one ever does!). You can make astounding real-world changes to your look and your health within months though; and that’s always the first stage of the process anyway.
Look to get healthier, and stronger, first – and then the rest will follow, sure as night follows day, as long as you keep at it.
To go back to the beginning? Yes, it’s harder than without kids, if you want to be a half-decent parent. Can anyone without kids truly empathise? No, I don’t think so. Theory and practice are two different things, and a PT without that lived experience is just guessing. Can you still get results and make it worthwhile? ABSOLUTELY.
If you want some more guidance, tailored just for you, get in touch here for face-to-face training or our Virtual PT service.