Work It, Work It

By: Kathy Buckworth

Apparently one of the biggest fears women have about getting pregnant is gaining weight. That's right � forget the 27 hours in labour and the dawning realization that the baby comes out of "there" � the thought of putting on 30 or 50 pounds is the really scary thing. Because regardless of what celebrity ubermoms like Cindy Crawford will tell you, the getting back into shape (yours, not hers) will take blood, sweat, and tears, (and that's just getting on the lycra shorts), not just "running around after your kids". As the mother of four children, however, I feel it is my duty to point out the "Unexpected Work Out" that Moms-to-be may not be aware of. Children can in fact provide the basis for specific spot toning exercises:

The Toddler Squat: When your children are between the ages of approximately 1 and 4, you will spend a huge and torturous amount of time squatting in an ungraceful manner in front of them in order to zip up coats, tie up shoes, wipe noses, scrub away crusted on ketchup, discipline (i.e. yelling at them, in their face), pulling up unintentional low rise pants, pull ups that are pulled down at inopportune moments, and assorted other items that keep falling off, untying and getting dirty.

The Arm Stretch & Tone: Children of all ages like to hide personal belongings, or even better, perishable food items, underneath and behind heavy immovable pieces of furniture in your house. This will require you to lie down, bend over, or reach behind these objects while performing arm stretches which threaten to remove your shoulder joint from its socket. Wiggling fingers is a mandatory part of this exercise.

Car Seat Resistance Training: Almost from birth, and certainly up to the age of 5, children will take every opportunity to fight car seat confinement, most effectively achieved by back arching, kicking, and arm flailing. It will take all of your strength and toning skills to firmly place the child in the seat while not snapping limbs (theirs), breaking plastic buckles or getting kicked in the face by a tiny dirty boot. You will likely even break a sweat on this one.

Butt-numbing "hold" positions: Sitting on hardwood floors, cross-legged (oh yes you did sprain that ankle about ten years ago and it still hurts when you do this) playing innumerable games of blocks, trains, cars, puzzles, marbles, weird pointy plastic thingys and other assorted mind and butt numbing pastimes. The one occasion where a well padded "Mom" bum is a blessing.

Bathroom sprint: This activity is performed for several reasons. They include racing to the facilities yourself when you literally haven't had a minute to go since 10:00 that morning, and knowing that one good sneeze will ruin your good pants and; racing around stores, malls, libraries, community centers, offices, and other public places trying to find relief for your "pee-dancing" 4 year old who was fine when you left the house five minutes earlier, and; dashing down the hallway to leap into the bathroom where for 3 � minutes you might find some peace and quiet from the rest of the family�they'll ultimately discover you're missing after about 13 seconds, but with a locking door you can extend your escape to close to a minute.

Besides the regular work out that most Moms get however, there is always room to "take it up a notch". This could be done by taking some of the more routine activities that we perform and giving it some extra boost, such as:

Weighted phones. If manufacturers were able to install 10 or 15 pound weights in the handset, our upper arms could be marvelously toned by the sleeveless season. This would also have the added benefit of providing a built in excuse to get off the phone with people you don't want to talk to (i.e. that woman across the street with the perfect children) "Sorry Marge, have to go I can't hold the phone any longer."

Finger weights for diaper changes. Include a washable surface (if you know what I mean), and you might strike gold with this one. New Moms will be taken aback (not to mentioned disgusted) to discover how many diapers their wonder children can go through in a 10 hour period. If each changing session helped to create slenderized fingers (never mind the sensible short fingernails and dry skin from handling, well, wet things), diaper rash would be a thing of the past.

Resistance mailboxes. Only for those times when you are stuck at home. Not glancing at new mail for days is easy when it is perched on top of a precarious in-basket pile at work. Not checking the mail about 16 times a day when you're at home and bored out of your freaking mind is another thing. A spring loaded mailbox lid could provide the added benefit and justification for even the most anxious of all Moms.

It doesn't take a lot of imagination to come up with ways to find more work and more resistance in the home; try coming up with a way to make it more interesting than watching a diaper fill up, and then you've got something.

Kathy Buckworth is the author of The Secret Life of Supermom, published April, 2005, by Sourcebooks, and a frequent contributor to parenting magazines.

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