Just before my wife and I welcomed our second child about six weeks ago, I was in a killer workout grove. I was getting up pre-dawn and getting a run or ride in every day. It seemed effortless.
Caring for a newborn is no joke, and any free time you may have had pre-kid tends to disappear upon welcoming the little one into the world. If that newborn is on the high-maintenance end of the scale, and you already have an 18 month old at home, then you’d better either be able to survive literally on no sleep, or somehow get creative.
As much as I wish I could get by with no sleep, that just isn’t gonna happen, so I’ve gotten creative.
Now, I’m lucky to have an amazing wife who, for the most part, is pretty tolerant of my endurance addiction. I’m able to get out for some solo runs, rides, and strength sessions, but a lot of the time I have to improvise and make a workout happen literally in the midst of a day packed with family responsibilities.
One of my go-to favorites is taking our older daughter to and from daycare via bike. It’s only about two and a half miles away, but there is about 600 feet of elevation gain on the return trip. Add a 25 pound kid to the back rack of my bike, and that trip becomes a solid ride. Do this for both pick up and drop off and that’s ten elevation-packed miles for the day.
Sometimes I’ll do this kid pickup and drop off on foot with our jogging stroller. Again, it’s only a five-ish mile round trip, but with the elevation change and extra kid weight, it becomes a great run.
As the weather is getting nicer we’re making more family outings to the park and around town. For my next dad fitness trick, I’ll get a head start on the family and will run to our destination. If it’s a long way away from home, I’ll have my wife pick me up somewhere along the way. The trick with this one is to make sure I help my wife get the diaper bag, stroller, and all the other necessary gear pre-packed so she can just hop in the car when she’s ready to leave.
In terms of strength training, keeping up with an 18-month old throughout the day is about the best functional workout you can get. The side body one arm kid carry is a great bicep and core exercise. I always try to workout my weak arm a little more, too.
At play time, I create games with my kid where I have to lift her up somehow, and make a game out of it. Maybe I’m sitting on the floor and I pick her up and carry her across my body form one side to the other. She loves these kinds of games and will ask me to do them over and over, which creates plenty of reps.
I’m not going to get super fit with these workouts, and they’re definitely no substitute for an actual training plan, but for the moment they’re helping me keep my fitness during a pretty chaotic period and that’s priceless.