Family fitness sounds so laudable, doesn't it? Just the term brings visions of loving TV parents smiling as they toss a ball to their eager Little Leaguers or hike in the woods, appreciating the wonders of nature together. I understand the concept, I even applaud the concept. The problem is that for some reason, I have a tough time delivering on the concept. Our family has joined the gym, but that was essentially a donation. We've tried online apps like MyFitnessPal, but gradually abandoned it. We've tried to create a family routine to get out and play tennis together, but schedules always seem to diverge. We are a family fitness failure.
Any advice from me about family fitness would be akin to Kim Kardashian passing on her etiquette tips. So, I began to think about what tasks in my working mom schedule might loosely qualify as fitness. Here's a short list of my virtual exercise routine:
- Exercising: my right to eat out instead of cooking dinner
- Stretching: our family budget to help pay for two college tuitions this fall
- Juggling: the needs of kids, spouse and elderly father (along with work)
- Bending: bureaucratic rules, requirements or other limits I encounter
- Sit ups: (as in paying attention) at boring staff meetings
- Jumping through hoops: to meet deadlines that creep up on me
- Lifting: the spirits of my various friends and colleagues
Are you beginning to wonder if we might be candidates for The Biggest Loser? In reality, things aren't quite that dire. My family's day does indeed include a bit of actual physical exertion. There's the constant running up and down stairs in search of car keys, sunglasses, and 'lost' sneakers. Then there's the sprinting from car to house to hospital to school, as we each dash from one activity or job to another. Oh, and can I count the heavy lifting of the 6 towels (a day!) that my teenagers seem to need for bathing?
Luckily, my boys have reached outside the family to attain their fitness goals. Both of them are athletic and healthy, which lessens my parental guilt a bit. In fact, my kids' active lifestyle is beginning to motivate us, their parents, to try a bit harder to take care of ourselves. Maybe the virtual exercise program will become more real, after all. Yeh, I think I'll take that idea and (ahem) run with it!
Are we the only family fitness failures out there? How do you manage to keep exercise a priority?
A proud Parenting Guru, Boston Irish is actually Maureen O'Brien, PhD (aka Dr. Mo). She is a psychologist, parenting coach, workshop speaker and mother of twins. Her latest book is called Advantage Mom: 20 Lessons from a Parenting Pro, available exclusively at www.destinationparenting.com.