Have you ever considered the physical demands of motherhood? We focus so much on that workout we can squeeze into nap time or after work, yet we often underestimate the invisible workout we are doing all day, every day. The Tummy Team focuses on supporting and strengthening women for all the different seasons or motherhood. Let’s examine the seasons of motherhood and embrace the way our body is working for us.
The Season of Preparation | Pregnancy
Imagine that you have signed up for a marathon and you have 9 months to train. At the end of the marathon is a dead sprint – it’s the hardest you’ve ever pushed your body. Are you tired yet? Now imagine crossing the finish line (wanting to faint!) and being handed the helpless newborn baby to care for 24/7. There is little to no rest between the end of the race and the constant care of the baby. Birth is the most physically demanding event of most women’s lives yet we often do not think about how we might need to prepare our muscles for this life-changing event. Ironically, it is not uncommon for us to be very discouraged when our body does not “bounce back” immediately after birth even if we did little to prepare for the birth. Yet you would never expect your body to “bounce back” after a marathon you did not train for.
During pregnancy, your core muscles, leg muscles, and back muscles are consistently challenged to hold more and more weight while balancing your body with the addition of a growing belly. Then the muscles of the core support the uterus as it rhythmically contracts to push a relatively large baby through a relatively small opening. Pregnancy itself is physically exhausting and labor and delivery draws on exhausted muscles to do a dramatic event. Your body needs strength for this and needs to prepare the muscles for not only labor and delivery but for the constant demands of newborn care and birth recovery.
The Season of Exhaustion | Newborn & Infancy Care
In this season, we find ourselves holding a little 6-15 pound (and growing) infant about 11-14 hours a day. We are bending, lifting, reaching, carrying and hauling all day long. Not just the baby, but we are lifting the infant carrier, the stroller, the baby bag, and the pack and play. There are endless squats, bicep curls, shoulder shrugs, side bends deadlifts and upright rows built into the daily routine of care. (Who needs a gym when you have a baby?!) Then to make things a bit more challenging, you are often performing this workout with the least possible sleep, intermittent meals and with a baby quite literally sucking the life out of you every few hours. This season typically starts with birth recovery and a weak and disconnected core so the strength of these daily exercises are being done on a faulty foundation.
The Season of “Don’t touch that!” | Toddler – Preschool Years
Hopefully, in this stage, they are sleeping through the night and no longer nursing so you might actually start feeling human again. Your hormones are likely starting to balance out and sleep is a close friend again. But this season is filled with bending over to hold tiny hands, lifting kids up to wash their hands, carrying not so little kids from the car to bed, and endless hours of picking things up off the floor. Bending over and squatting down is how you spend most of your day. You may find yourself carrying a 35 pounder through the remainder of the zoo or hauling a tuckered out 4-year-old back to their own bed after a bad dream. Yes, they are more mobile and independent now but they still need to be carried, lifted, and assisted most of the day. Your body is working out from dawn to dusk in this season. Don’t overlook that workout, momma. You are working hard and you need the strength to do it without feeling constantly fatigued.
The Season of The Chauffeur | Elementary – Middle School Years
Finally, they go to the bathroom independently, wash their own hair in the shower and get dressed for school (mostly) without your help! It is true that as they journey through elementary school and into middle school, the kids need less and less hands-on support from you. This season may seem like a reprieve after the last 5 years of nearly constant physical labor but this is where we find ourselves signing them up for all kinds of activities. Before you know it, your main role has evolved into chauffeur, cheerleader and snack provider. In this season, you will spend countless hours driving from gym to the sports field to music lessons and ballet recitals. I’ll bet you didn’t know sitting in your car, on the bleachers, and on the soccer sidelines was so exhausting. It takes core strength to do that kind of workout. These days, lifting coolers, hauling gym bags and camp chairs, and carrying bins of sliced oranges will be your daily workout. Standing through auditions and cheering at football games will be your jumping jacks. This stage is busy and filled with errands, and we want to help you be strong for it so you can be fully present in all these experiences.
The Season of (almost) Independence | High School – College
All of the sudden, you find yourself trying to slow this train down. How are they driving already? Are they really preparing for their SAT’s? Yes, they are (almost) independent now but they still need you! They eat A LOT in this season so you will find yourself in the kitchen cooking more – for them and their friends. This is the emotionally present season where you will need the endurance to stay up late listening to dreams, checking out college websites and sharing stories. You need strength for band concerts and varsity football games. You need endurance for college tours and road trips. You need strength to pack up their room and carry their belongings to college. Don’t overlook the physical workout you are still doing daily to support your kids.
The Season of Resource | You’re a Grandmother!
Remember those sleepless nights and exhausted days when your baby was a baby? Now is the time to be that support you know is desperately needed. Now you are suddenly back to holding babies and lifting toddlers. But it’s been years since you’ve worked out your “mom arms.” Although you relish the privilege to walk alongside your kids as they have families of their own, the physical demands of those early years are back again (albeit with a less intensity this time around). Being physically strong enough to provide some extra hands and relief could be one of your most rewarding seasons of motherhood, but don’t overlook the real workout that it is. Once you are a mom, you will always be a mom. Keeping yourself strong for all the seasons of motherhood is important. Get the strength you need to be helpful without fatiguing yourself.
Motherhood is a journey with many seasons. Our goal is to help you be strong and pain-free for the demands of every season. Don’t underestimate that your body was designed for real-life movements, more than a life in the gym. Consider all the ways that you can reinforce your strength by using the everyday physical challenges of motherhood. Motherhood is the ultimate invisible workout. Like any workout, you need to hydrate, rest, eat well, stretch, work on your form and be active to be successful. The Tummy Team specializes in real life strength and how to help you get what you need to be strong. Check out some of our free resources.