Keeping Active in Lockdown ….with a toddler

By Katey Markland 

I am generally a pretty active person. I would happily be active all day, every day if I could! However, with the current pandemic, restrictions on work and exercise I found that overnight my headspace and freedom was whipped away. How was I going to maintain my fitness? Only going out once a day?! Not only do I have two hyperactive dogs to walk, I have a 22 month old toddler so only being able to go out once was certainly not ideal. I thought I may go stir crazy!

With my husband being a key worker I thus became full time childminder, fortunately, Active Lancashire have been flexible in terms of my working hours. So I am managing to fit in some work each day. However, the first few weeks I doggedly tried to fit in exercise – using the turbo, our home gym equipment, workouts I found online or through social media, yoga classes and then a run as my once a day exercise outdoors while my little boy napped … as well as keeping the house, working each day and dealing with the array of animals! It was not sustainable and I wasn’t finding any sort of balance. Exercise was actually more of a stressor that it was a relief.

My next tact was to run with my running buggy which I am so grateful to have – it has been a total lifeline and key to gaining some freedom since my boy was 6 months old. However, running the streets or round the Guild Wheel made me anxious: hoards of people, often not really bothering about social distancing and not being able to get out of the way easily soon made me put a stop to that.

Life felt very intense and full on. Working, looking after my boy all day and getting only an hour to do all the housework, prepare food and fit in any form of exercise – oh and a shower if I was lucky(!) while he naps is tiring and quite frankly, impossible! How these little children have so much get up and go ALL the time is beyond me.

Fast forward to the exercise regulations being relaxed and this has certainly helped – I can at least take my little boy out for a walk with the dogs and then use his nap time for ME. It still isn’t ideal. I am doing massively less than I would like but I have learnt something that I have struggled to previously. It is OK to have a day when you do less, it is GOOD to mix things up; I have tried new things and enjoyed it, I have found a little peace that a walk will suffice. I am still keeping active albeit in a different way. I have slowed down and enjoyed time with my son which I will never ever get back. I am learning about a balance. The house is a mess, it certainly needs a clean but right now my priority is me, my family and my work. I will completely look forward to when my exercise can be my time for freedom, to run on the fells without worrying about touching that gate post or that I must be back so my husband can start work and also not being exhausted from the long days and nights that are all too familiar to parents of young children. Being able to push my body so that I ache the next day, it isn’t happening right now but I can wait. The housework can wait. We are all waiting for a change but we must live for now.

What have I found that has helped during lockdown?

Give in! It isn’t always possible and achievable in the time – don’t hold it against yourself and make yourself feel guilty

Short bursts – 10 squats after changing his nappy, walking down the garden and doing some lunges instead, 5 minute jog when you get a break – it feels totally pointless at the time but if you remember to keep doing it, it all adds up.

Use nap time – to do what makes you HAPPY and feel good

Get a running buggy – total lifesaver if you like running or walking. They are often for sale second hand and you can pick up some great bargains.

Be creative and don’t feel you have to stick to a routine – set new goals that are realistic to the current situation.

Remember it isn’t forever.

Active Partnerships
Lancashire and South Cumbria Health and Care Partnership
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