When I saw a recent study on how parents are less healthy than their childless peers, I thought: Well, duh! The study found that new parents get less exercise than adults the same age who don’t have children, and new moms have higher BMIs and consume more calories than women without rugrats. (I assume they excluded extra breastfeeding calories.)
This comes as no surprise to me, as I’m so new to parenting that I still remember my pre-baby life. I devoted much more time to working out. Even when I was pregnant, more often than not I’d fit in exercise no matter how tired I was. However, when you’re a new parent, there is significantly less time to devote to yourself. Little humans take a lot of time and energy, and some days it’s all you can do just to catch a quick shower and grab a bite to eat, let alone get in a workout.
While I feel like the study is basically telling me what I already know, there is hope: More than 90 percent of the parents in the survey had a child that was a year old or younger. I doubt that the first year as a parent is most people’s healthiest year; I know I consumed more takeout than I usually do and a few more treats as well. I’d be interested in seeing how these parents look over time. Do they improve their exercise and eating habits as their kids get older? Or does it just get harder as kids get older and busier?
Now that I’m 9 months into the first year of my daughter’s life, I can say with certainty that it gets so much easier and there will be time for yourself and your health once again. As my daughter gets older, she also sleeps better and has more predictable daily routines. She’s more and more able to entertain herself for awhile, allowing me to sneak in workouts without her needing to be held, fed or changed. Now it just looks like I just need to avoid the fish-shaped crackers that seem synonymous with toddlerhood…
Can’t see the poll? Click here to weigh in on your health habits now that you’re a parent!
As for me, I’m falling into option three. The first few months of my daughter’s life were about surviving and getting a tiny bit of sleep. Parents shouldn’t beat themselves up if their health habits slip for a bit. Just be sure to buck up and get back into the routine so that you can set a good example for those little sleep-stealers! —Erin