Staying active during the holiday season usually isn’t high on someone’s to-do list. It’s often doesn’t make our to-do list at all. Between running errands and tempting treats, it’s tough to schedule times to work out each day. Let’s be honest – it’s hard enough trying to find time to shower and eat an actual meal when you have little ones in the house. Add in the typical holiday to-do’s, like buying presents and baking casseroles for family dinner parties, and it can seem nearly impossible to find time to work out this time of year.
The holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year, but it can quickly turn into the most hectic time of the year filled with stress, stress eating, and no sleep. “‘Tis the season to be holly jolly”, or so they say. But according to a survey by the American Psychological Association, that phrase isn’t true for everyone. About 38 percent of people feel that their stress increases during the holidays, while 64 percent of people with a mental illness said their condition worsens over the holidays. Some people feel there’s a lack of time, lack of money, pressure to give gifts, unmet expectations, or all of the above contributing to their holiday stress.
Yes, the holidays can be stressful. They can make you want to curl up alone by the fire watching Hallmark Christmas movies and stay there until January 2nd. And we won’t judge you if you do. But staying active during the holidays can actually help improve your mental health. Physical activity will not only help reduce stress during this busy season, but it can also give you more energy, improve your mood, and maybe even burn off some of the delicious baked goods your neighbors keep dropping off.
Tips for Staying Physically Active During the Holidays with a Baby
Increase your movement indoors.
If you live in a winter wonderland, you’ll probably spend most of your time indoors, especially with a new baby. Can you stay active inside your own home? Absolutely! Do a set of squats while you wait for your lunch to warm up in the microwave. Do leg lifts while folding laundry. Got 8 minutes to spare while your sugar cookies bake? Lay your baby safely and comfortably underneath you on the living room floor and give them kisses while you do push-ups.
Whether you have 30 seconds or 10 minutes, here are some other simple exercises to increase your movement indoors:
- Calf raises
- Walking lunges
- Baby overhead press, baby curl-up, reverse baby curl and baby bench press
- Transverse abdominal exercises
- Wall sits
- Wall push-ups
- March in place
- High knees
Walk as much as you can.
Walking is a great way to stay active and healthy. It’s a low-impact exercise that almost everybody, no matter the season or their stage of life, can do because you can naturally fit walking into your everyday lifestyle. Both physical therapists and obstetrician-gynecologists encourage women to go on easy-paced daily walks after giving birth because it eases their body back into physical activity, boosts their mood, and is great for postpartum healing.
And lucky for you, there are numerous ways to incorporate walking, whether taking a leisurely stroll or power walking, into your holiday routine. One way is to combine errands and exercise. Holiday shopping? Park farther away instead of circling the parking lot looking for the closest spot. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Shop until you drop those holiday cookie calories by walking from store to store. Walk holiday goodies and presents to neighbors instead of driving them around. Take a trot around the block while your glazed Christmas ham is in the oven. Depending on the weather, make sure to get yourself, your baby, and your stroller ready for winter weather. Bundle up in warm clothes and put your baby in a stroller with a footmuff or a baby carrier to help keep them warm.
Take advantage of tummy time.
Does your baby still do tummy time? Great! Use those 5-10 minutes to bond with your baby while you both exercise. Whether you do a glute and leg floor workout in front of your baby or you do abdominal exercises with your baby sitting on you, you get face time with your baby and you both can check something off your day’s to-do list. Please be sure that your attention stays on your baby while you exercise.
Clean your house.
Vacuuming, sweeping, mopping, dusting, dishes and laundry are types of chores that may need to be done before your family gets into town for the holidays. So if you’re going to do them anyway, you might as well turn these household chores into your own personal at-home fitness workout. A clean house + a good workout? Now that’s a 2-for-1 deal you can’t pass up any time of the year.
While cleaning your house you bend over, squat, twist, turn, walk up and down stairs, and lift and move things. You stay active without even really trying by doing normal cleaning tasks. But if you want to work a little harder and a little smarter, take it up a notch. For example, you could do calf raises while washing dishes, do lunges while vacuuming, or squat to put things away. And when you need to bend over to pick something up, be more conscious about it. Try to squat with good form rather than bending over and arching your back.
Crank up the holiday playlist.
Dancing to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” isn’t just fun, it’s also a great form of exercise. Dancing also has many health benefits, including:
- Increased stamina
- Improved flexibility, coordination and balance
- Reduced stress
- Improved mood
- Better sleep
You can dance to burn calories and lose weight, or you can dance for a light cardio workout that gets all your muscle groups involved. Either way, dancing is totally doable during the holidays with a baby. You can dance with your baby – by securely putting them in a front baby carrier – or you can put your baby in a baby swing and entertain them with your super cool mom moves.
If you don’t have one already, check out this super fun and festive holiday dance party playlist. It’s been tested and approved by moms and kids alike.
Incorporate physical activity into holiday gatherings.
Your family probably won’t say no to an evening chatting over a plate of cookies and coffee. But holiday gatherings can be the perfect time to be active and still visit with relatives. Try bringing the holiday spirit with any of these family-friendly holiday fitness activities:
|Swimming at a local indoor aquatic center||Snowshoeing|
|Walking through a museum||Holiday scavenger hunt|
|Walking around places decked out in holiday decor||Chopping down your own tree at a Christmas tree farm|
Have the products that help you stay active with a baby.
In some cases, all you need to exercise is yourself. Other times, though, having certain baby and exercise products can help you maintain an active lifestyle after giving birth. So if you don’t already have these products, consider getting them:
- Ergobaby carrier
- Baby carrier weather covers
- Baby stroller
- Stroller accessories
- Baby swing, bouncer chair or lounger
- Comfortable, all-weather walking or running shoes
- Nursing sports bra
- Resistance bands
- Weighted gloves
- Yoga mat
- Food and fitness journal.
Actively Doing Things in Moderation
Being active doesn’t only refer to being physically active, like running and lifting weights. Being active also involves actively choosing what to do and what not to do. When it comes to staying active during the holidays with a baby, along with the above-mentioned tips, it’s also important for you to be more intentional with your choices.
Author and American productivity consultant David Allen has said, “You can do anything, but not everything.” Isn’t that the truth, both when you become a parent and during the holidays? One key to a happy and balanced holiday season with a baby is to do things in moderation.
Here are a couple of ways you can be more intentional with your time this holiday season:
Say no when you need to.
Your family and friends are just as excited to experience the holidays with your baby as you are. But don’t feel obligated to attend every family gathering or to invite your extended family over on Christmas Day. It’s OK to want to spend certain moments with just your partner and your baby.
On a similar note, if you usually host Thanksgiving or a New Year’s Eve party with friends, don’t feel like you have to this year. There’s no need for you to stress over the extra planning, cooking, cleaning, and other responsibilities that come with hosting an event, especially if your little one is still breastfeeding and waking up multiple times a night. Take a year off. Let someone else host or suggest doing it at a restaurant this year.
Prioritize being in the moment.
Yes, you want to celebrate with family and friends. Yes, you want to show off your baby in their adorable holiday outfits. Of course, you should take plenty of pictures and videos. But don’t get so caught up in all the holiday happenings, recording each moment and trying to stay active that you can’t be fully present with your family and enjoy the season. Slowing down and living in the moment is one of the best things you can do for your health and your family.
It may take more effort during the holidays to stay active, but it’s necessary and possible to make time for your physical and mental health so that the holidays really can be the most wonderful time of the year with your baby.
How to Stay Active with a Baby During the Rest of the Year
Staying active during the holidays and throughout the year is important for your physical and mental health. Having a baby and becoming a mother is physically, mentally and emotionally demanding. Making this time for yourself to focus on your health and wellness, even if it’s just for 5 minutes a day, can and will help you be a good mom now and for years to come.
The best tip for staying active during this busy season of mom life is to find something you enjoy doing. Exercising doesn’t have to be boring or agonizing. It can and should be fun! If you want to do it, then you’ll stick with it.
From safe pregnancy exercises to mommy-and-me classes, here are just a handful of ways to stay active with a baby any time of the year:
- Maternity yoga
- Postnatal yoga
- Babywearing yoga
- Jogging or walking with your little one
- Stroller walking groups
- Aqua aerobics
- Light weight training
- House cleaning
- Exercise DVDs
- Online workout programs
- Babywearing classes (barre, Zumba, yoga, etc.)
- Whole-body babywearing workouts
- Pelvic floor exercise
- Transverse abdominal or belly breathing postpartum.
Let’s be real mamas – no matter the time of the year, the easiest way to stay active with a baby is doing at-home workouts. If you don’t know where to start, turn to CARiFiT. CARiFiT is a postnatal fitness company that offers online babywearing exercises through on-demand workouts and live stream classes. These safe and effective workouts – designed by fitness experts and supported by doctors and midwives – were made for moms, dads, and babies who are 6 weeks old up to 18 months old. Many CARiFiT reviews rave about the fun classes and the convenience of getting in a good sweat session while their baby safely and soundly falls asleep in their carrier. It’s a win-win for moms everywhere!
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Evolve 3-in-1 Bouncer
If you’re favorite workout isn’t babywearing friendly, look no further than the Evolve 3-in-1 Bouncer! If you’re little one can’t be in your arms, this is another safe place for them to be. This bouncer is ergonomically designed to support your little one from head to hips. The natural rocking movements will keep them soothed and entertained while you exercise, shower, or take a break from the in-laws!
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If you’ve recently had a baby, make sure that you’re cleared by your doctor or midwife for certain kinds of physical activity before doing them and that you listen to your body so that you don’t overdo it.