Sunday, July 17, 2011

The best workout of my life...

I joined a gym with babysitting! Doesn't sound like much, but to this stay-at-home mom of 4 kids under the age of 5, it is a huge deal. I'm not one for leaving my kids. I have left them exactly three times...when I was in the hospital giving birth to the next baby :). And, they were with my parents. And, I checked in at every meal, poop, nap, etc.

My afternoons were getting out of control. The toddler and baby would nap, and they were in a peaceful state when they woke up. The "big" kids were the problem. They would watch a few shows for "quiet time," and when the TV went off, the boredom and meltdowns would begin. The baby and toddler were no longer happy as they watched the 3-and-4-year-olds. I get the kids out every morning, but the afternoons are often spent at home. I would do my best to keep everyone fed, changed, and entertained...and instead of being happy and content (my goal), they would still be unhappy and Mama would be pushed to the brink.

So, one afternoon in June, I piled all the kids in the van. I showed up at the nearest (affordable) gym with babysitting. I had toured there before, but I hadn't joined. I walk in with all four kids in tow (I ignored the looks...I'm used to those!). A lovely lady helped me with my forms, and we headed up to the babysitting room.

I'll never forget the look on my children's faces as they realized that I was leaving them in this room! Granted, there was a friendly babysitter and toys galore, but I was walking backward out the door with a very goofy grin on my face.

I felt like a kid in a candy store. So free! So free! But, wait, oh NO...the babysitting room did not have a wall all the way to the top. From the elliptical machine that I had chosen, I could hear my children talking. Were there tears? Not yet. Better get moving. So, I cranked the machine to level 10 (never mind that I hadn't had a proper workout in months). I turned Oprah up, and I exercised. Glorious sweat. I kept it to a half hour. But, oh, what a fabulous workout.

My children ran to me when I came back into the babysitting room. "Mommy, what happened to you!?" I realized that I had not even bothered to wipe off my sweaty brow. I just kept smiling. I happily made dinner, and I had energy after the kids went to bed. We've gone back several times, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to have a half hour getaway in the middle of the afternoon. It takes a good hour-and-a-half or so to prepare for a half hour workout, but man, it's worth it.

I'm so blessed to stay home with my children, but I need to remember that God wants me to take care of myself, too. Thank you God, for these precious, too fast days with my children. Thank you for my healthy body to exercise. And, thank you, for the opportunity to refresh my body, mind, and soul. Amen.

I first wrote this post a year ago. We went to the gym faithfully every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for nine months. My girlfriends knew that I was not available for playdates on these afternoons...the affordable babysitting for four kids and the endorphin rush for Mommy were too good to be true! My goofy grin never quite went away.

About a week after we started going, I found out that we were expecting. The gym staff and my fellow exercisers cheered me on with their encouraging comments for nine months.

I chose an elliptical machine close to the bathroom during the morning sickness. On the days when I couldn't battle the exhaustion, I would ride the exercise bike at a snail's pace with my eyes closed! I coughed my way through a bout of pneumonia in February (I had the doctor's okay, but the scary cough held on for a good month). And, as April due date approached, I had people watching in amazement (or panic/horror?!) as I waddled my way into the gym with kids in tow and cranked the elliptical up to just 9 (I didn't want to go into labor, after all!). :)

I have not returned yet as I am too nervous to put a 3-month-old in the babysitting room (it gets crowded and there's only one babysitter). The afternoons can be very slow, but there are SO many unexpected blessings (if I make sure that I am in the frame of mind to notice them). The long hours give me many opportunities to pray for extra graces! The Blessed Mother never lets me down. a few months, God willing, I will write about the "second best workout of my life!" Looking forward to that!

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