Workouts, Interrupted: Dealing With Toddler Separation Anxiety at the Gym

crying kid

Sometimes duty calls mid-workout. Credit: D Sharon Pruitt

Child care was a hugely important factor in joining my new gym. I knew that my daughter would likely take some time to adjust to having me leave her at a daycare with strangers and other children, but I didn’t really anticipate that it would take weeks and weeks of pretty consistent drop-offs without seeing a ton of improvement.

In fact, getting back into a solid workout routine hasn’t been the hard part of getting to the gym. The separation anxiety and tears and crying have been the challenge. I’m trying really, really hard not to feel guilty about taking time for myself, for leaving a crying kiddo to try to adjust to child care.

While we’re working through this adjustment phase, I’ve been fitting in 15- to 20-minute workout sessions so that my daughter knows I’ll be back soon. That means fitting in the most intense workout in the shortest amount of time possible.

The child care staff, all of whom have been great during my daughter’s tears, will hunt down parents if a child can’t be comforted or distracted within 10 minutes or so. So, during one of my personal training sessions, I heard my name called over the intercom and had to take a timeout to run down to the child care center. Luckily, my daughter was able to be reassured, and I managed to pry myself away to finish the workout. Another time, the first time I took a Zumba class at the gym, I was busy getting my groove on when in pops one of the child care staff members, holding up a sign, with my name on it. I called it quits, glad I got at least 25 minutes of a cardio workout.

So my sweat sessions have been short and sweet, but it reminds me that anything is better than nothing. And I really am seeing a difference in my strength and cardio, even with such short workouts. Maybe it’s a good thing, and it’s helping me break back into my workouts a little more slowly and steadily than I would have otherwise. Or maybe the purpose is for me to learn how to maximize a teeny-tiny amount of time. But like any life change for the better, we’re sticking with it, and eventually she’ll adjust. And maybe I’ll get that full hour of Zumba, eventually? (Please tell me yes.)

How do you maximize your time when you know you’ve only got a few minutes to work out? And how long did it take your clingy kiddo to adjust to a new situation? —Erin

 


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