From Chapter 3: Making Room for Family and Fitness

Buy, Barter or Beg

Sometimes there are things that never seem to get done despite our best efforts. Can’t fathom another minute more of lost sleep? Have a big deadline looming at work? Can’t go without another workout? It’s time to enlist a little help: Clear chunks in your schedule by hiring a housekeeper, lawn boy, and handyman; use a personal assistant service; buy prepared meals and shop online.

Got the purse strings tied a little too tight for this? If you can afford it but can’t get past spending the money on “frivolous expenditures,” consider this: If you had to buy your workout, what would you pay? Invest in your sanity.

If you can’t afford it, figure out how you can negotiate these services without breaking the bank. Pay the kid next door to mow the lawn, or ask the babysitter to run an errand or vacuum for you. Pick one day a month to make some meals ahead of time and stock your freezer. Maybe you don’t like the way your husband folds clothes. Well, let it go and let him fold, and get back an hour in your week for something important. Maybe all it takes is developing a good chore list for the rest of the family. Shirking your duties? Absolutely not. You’re teaching your children responsibility.

Another economical way to “get it all done” is to barter services. What are you good at? More precisely, what are you good at that you enjoy enough to do for someone else? The ideal situation, of course, is to relegate what you don’t enjoy to someone else in trade. Let’s say you hate to cook but you love organizing closets. Find that utterly disorganized gourmet friend. While she prepares a meal for you, tackle her closet.

You likely already barter your services. We barter when we share a car pool, or swap kids for play dates. Just expand that thinking. I’ll fold your laundry if you’ll apply your green thumb to my flower bed. Walk my dog and I’ll pick up your dry cleaning. I’ll wash your car if you iron a few shirts for me. You get the idea.

There’s one more behavior all women need to master: asking for help.

Cyclists like to say there are two types of cyclists: those who have fallen off their bike and those who will. In some ways, life is a little like that too. There are those who reach a point where they realize they need to ask and accept the generosity of others, and those who aren’t yet comfortable accepting help from others but are destined to get there.

Everyone has their “enough” point. For Laurie it was after struggling too long with postpartum depression. For Kara, it happened when she moved to a new state just before giving birth to twins. In both cases people reached out but for the first time in our lives we didn’t deflect the help. Funny thing is, we weren’t ashamed. Getting help feels good (feels even better to the helper) so there’s no reason to avoid this win-win situation.

Once you’ve accepted help it’s easier to ask for it. Asking for help doesn’t make you a wimpy woman. On the contrary, it’s liberating. You’re not asking for a crutch, your asking for a boost, a little lift. If asking for the help you need gets you through your day, a difficult week or a life crisis, then you’ve succeeded. The best way to show your gratitude for the help is to pay it forward. What mother in your neighborhood could use a little lift?

Just as time and experience allow us to become more comfortable as mothers, finding your way as a fit mom is similar. At first it may seem as if the two can never coexist, but eventually working out becomes part of an exciting, new healthy-way-of-life routine and the effort to do it all becomes less daunting. Still, finding fitness in the chaos of motherhood has its challenges. Sometimes those challenges are only excuses. And as you’ll discover in the next secret, there are no good excuses.