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Other/Mixed Training as a Parent

Other strength modalities (e.g., Clubs), mixed strength modalities (e.g., combined kettlebell and barbell), other goals (flexibility)
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Snowman

Level 6 Valued Member
I was thinking about the evolution of my training over the 9 months since my son was born, and thought it might be a worthwhile thread to bring up some things like:
  • How has your training changed since becoming a parent?
  • How has you training changed as your kids have gotten older/how has it affected your relationship?
  • Any tips or tricks for improving training/recovery/diet while meeting the demands of parenting.
By all means, non-parents feel free to comment as well; we've all had parents and we all know parents anyways.
Maybe I can even get a little info from more experienced folks on here and stay ahead of the curve...

I'll start by saying that I was pretty fortunate that during the first 10 weeks of our son's life, my schedule as a college student could easily accommodate an irregular sleep schedule, and I'm very thankful (as is my wife) that I didn't have to do it with the job I have now where I work 12 hour shifts. Since I could still work in 6+ hours of sleep per day, my recovery, while not ideal, wasn't too bad. However, I still kept my training time very low, since I felt that most of my time was better spent trying to lighten the workload for my wife.
Around the 6 week mark our sleep started to steadily become more regular, and the boy was still pretty easy to watch, which meant that I could take 30-40 minutes in our extra room to focus on training. As the little guy has become more and more mobile, he has required more and more supervision.
Currently, I store the kettlebells behind the rocking chair in the living room, and do all my training there (or the adjoining hallway with regard to loaded carries). I make sure the boy is well clear of heavy, swinging objects, and while he doesn't get too close while I do swings and presses, any time I get on the ground he sees it as an invitation to play (which it usually is, to be fair). My "20-40 minutes of intense focus" has gone out the window. I usually wouldn't be able to take more than 15 minutes alone before it was a burden on my wife, which means I'm usually playing, cooking, getting firewood, etc between sets of presses and other strength movements. However, I can usually still get 5-10 (mostly) uninterrupted minutes for S&S style swings.
 

ShawnM

Level 8 Valued Member
When my kids were first born I would do 3 minutes of max push ups followed by 4-5 minutes of max Squats followed by 2 minutes of planks. Each morning, every morning. Maintained strength and developed decent cardio in 10-12 minutes a day. I still do this when in a bind. Throw in swings when able and I think you will be ok.
 

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
On the flip side, as a recent empty-nester, I can say that training time is certainly easier to find in the later stages of life!

Enjoy having the little ones to the fullest... it does pass quickly. Sounds like you're doing well.
 

Whiskey_Fox

Level 5 Valued Member
When my daughter was born 3 years ago, training was very sporadic. Now that she's older, training has been better (when at home and not deployed), and she actually enjoys being in the garage and working out with me. She loves to swing on the gymnastic rings we have setup and she also likes to pick up a 10# slam ball we have. She's my little "go-getter"
-WF
 

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
When my kids were born(twins), they were a bit premature. Low body weight initially meant they couldn't take in a big meal and so did not sleep through the night for months, not till body weight passed the 9-10 lb mark.

I canned all training except for running the dog, I was so fatigued I stopped playing the radio in the car as it was too distracting on my severely deprived sleep schedule. Once they could make it through the night and I was getting more than 3 hours of sleep on a regular I started working out 1st thing in the morning. I had just gotten into kettlebells and was doing a lot of rowing on a Kettler Kadet as well.

As the kids have gotten older it has become increasingly easy to get in three workouts a week, more than that is not practical. I kicked into high gear when they were about 3 1/2 and had left the diapers behind.

Currently I'm trying to get them to work out with me, picked up a pair of 10lb KBs. I used to do Escrima/Kali paddycake with them, Heaven and Earth six, Sinawali, etc. I intend to get them back into that along with what I know of 52 handblocks. To me this is more important than exercise in many respects.

I'm going to continue to engage them when possible, but they are at an age now where they have to come to it, I can't force them to train. They don't really interfere with me when I'm working out either, if I'm exercising I'm not on them to clean up their guinea pigs, practice their instruments, homework etc.

I wouldn't stress if the exercise routine is chopped way back at this stage or even eliminated as a formal practice. You aren't going to evaporate or anything, and as the children mature you'll have all the time you need. It takes very little to maintain at a level where it's easy to jump right back in.

I find taking even several months off does very little harm to my overall fitness and in some cases rejuvenates my mental drive/desire to train hard.
 

kiwipete

Level 7 Valued Member
Hey Snowman - I can completely relate. My kids are 3 and 7 respectively and I CLEARLY remember the mind numbing sleep deprivation :)

What worked for me was:

# Doing Grease the groove style work throughout the day with very sub max effort (pull ups/ goblet squats etc) - maybe only 1 set on some days - but better than nothing...

# Easy walking

# Stretching and mobility work, again at low effort level

Overall I made daily movement at low intensity my friend and avoided any hard efforts until I felt truly ready (which was a due to shift work sleep deprivation combined with baby sleep deprivation)

My nervous system was way to smashed to do much so I just worked well within my capability without expecting too much.

All the best!
 

Deleted member 5559

Guest
With an 11yr ,6yr ,3yr ,4mo old, I go through the same phases each time. I get tired, don't train, eat worse, get soft, stop whining, start the day with S&S, eat better, harden up, train harder.

I do find that S&S is the best go-to program for me when it gets tough. When all else doesn't work, I can always get it in, easily recover, stay motivated, and make progress - well not regress anyway, I have not invested in a heavier kettlebell in a while.
 

Rayhzel

Level 3 Valued Member
The early days as a parent are hard on your practice.
I definitely was just trying to maintain at first. I was lucky enough to have kids that slept through the night pretty quick, which was also when I could pick up the practice.

Now (the kids are two years old now, twins) I work out when they are to bed.
The wife occiassionly does her practice with the kids around. I usually run a bit of interference on the kids and keep them busy. Usually they just want to get a long in whatever exercise my wife is doing. Which is mad fun.

I won't do this though. Since the weights I am using are a lot of heavier. I don't want to launch one of my kids with a KB swing. When they are older, I will definitely show them what pops is capable of though ;)

I keep having visions of me doing C&J with my kids next to me doing the same :D
That would be cool.
 

Snowman

Level 6 Valued Member
I've found that the trick for me is to make priorities and allow things to be dictated by time. For instance, the priorities for one day might look like:
  1. Warmup/general movement
  2. Swings
  3. Carries
I normally only allow for three things on the list each day. I can always (almost) hit the first priority on the list, and I just work as far down as far as I can, stopping when I'm done or when I run out of time. Sometimes I'll hit the first priority early, then try to get the other things done later. Just a couple days ago, I noticed that for about the last month or so, I've often been dropping the last item or two on the list. At first I thought it was odd, since my obligations at home and work haven't really changed, but then I figured out what it was. My son is getting more interactive, so I'm spending more time playing with him :p. Like I said, for me, priorities are key.
 

ali

Level 6 Valued Member
My kids are older now....19 and 13. During the baby and young kid years I never really trained, a bit of 5 a-side football, some running and the odd visit to a gym. I spent a lot of time with my kids as we, my wife and I, both worked part time for that very reason....to bring up the kids. So for a large part of 11/12 years from the birth of my first to my second getting a bit older, I spent most of it on the ground doing crawling games and generally arsing about. A big favourite was both of them on my back as I crawled along on hands and knees as we all sang various horsey related songs.....so loaded crawling for years, is one way of saying it. And with incremental weight increases. Also, airplanes....lying on your back, feet up in the air with kid balanced on your feet. Turn it into a leg press, very easily. Actually when they were babies I did press ups with them and some kind of get up.....didn't know what it was then.Then there was hours and hours of trampoline. All this has come to an abrupt end....my kids are now eternally embarrassed by having a man-child as their parent. So I disappear down to the park on my lonesome and blast out on the monkey bars.
I think if I did what I do now and the value that I place on my training time, finding that time would have been awkward from an actual time perspective and mental space thing. So I was never really compromised. I enjoyed the rough and tumble stuff, the playing and farting about. I was in my late 30s/40s...52 now....get down on the floor with them. That in itself IS training and you are bonding and doing the parenting thing all at once. I would not have done it any other way. I re-organised our living room...2 sofas moved together. Get down in the airplane position and launch the blighters to land safely on the sofas....some explosive leg work and a good laugh. Depending on their age too obviously we used to have some physical playing about and they would have a snooze, zonked out. And so would I. Catch up on some sleep deprivation. We did go through some difficult sleepless periods at different times and it's just one of those parenting things that you muddle through it all. I didn't train then but if I did it would have been way down the list of priorities, for me at least. And it is so, so very true.....it really doesn't last long....so make the most of it. Get down of the floor with them and let them teach you how to move. All this neuro developmental stuff I didn't know then. If I had young kids now that's what I'd do. Well, that is exactly what I did do but unaware of the training aspect......so you have a new training partner,a new coach, the most accomplished movement specialist you'll ever meet. They'll move onto their ipads sooner now than they did then or ever did so make the most of them!!
 

David S

Level 6 Valued Member
Great thread!

My experience in the early days is that the PM set up of 2-3 sessions of swings and 2-3 sessions of get ups is manageable in terms of fitting in around a hectic schedule, and also making some progress. I would also do a few pull ups throughout the day when I had time.

As others have pointed out, just playing with children as they get older is great fun and good for you. For me it's still a great opportunity to enjoy things that I hadn't done for years, like playing football, Frisbee etc.
 

Kozushi

Level 7 Valued Member
I was thinking about the evolution of my training over the 9 months since my son was born, and thought it might be a worthwhile thread to bring up some things like:
  • How has your training changed since becoming a parent?
  • How has you training changed as your kids have gotten older/how has it affected your relationship?
  • Any tips or tricks for improving training/recovery/diet while meeting the demands of parenting.
By all means, non-parents feel free to comment as well; we've all had parents and we all know parents anyways.
Maybe I can even get a little info from more experienced folks on here and stay ahead of the curve...

I'll start by saying that I was pretty fortunate that during the first 10 weeks of our son's life, my schedule as a college student could easily accommodate an irregular sleep schedule, and I'm very thankful (as is my wife) that I didn't have to do it with the job I have now where I work 12 hour shifts. Since I could still work in 6+ hours of sleep per day, my recovery, while not ideal, wasn't too bad. However, I still kept my training time very low, since I felt that most of my time was better spent trying to lighten the workload for my wife.
Around the 6 week mark our sleep started to steadily become more regular, and the boy was still pretty easy to watch, which meant that I could take 30-40 minutes in our extra room to focus on training. As the little guy has become more and more mobile, he has required more and more supervision.
Currently, I store the kettlebells behind the rocking chair in the living room, and do all my training there (or the adjoining hallway with regard to loaded carries). I make sure the boy is well clear of heavy, swinging objects, and while he doesn't get too close while I do swings and presses, any time I get on the ground he sees it as an invitation to play (which it usually is, to be fair). My "20-40 minutes of intense focus" has gone out the window. I usually wouldn't be able to take more than 15 minutes alone before it was a burden on my wife, which means I'm usually playing, cooking, getting firewood, etc between sets of presses and other strength movements. However, I can usually still get 5-10 (mostly) uninterrupted minutes for S&S style swings.
In Korea where I didn't have kettlebells anyways, and our living quarters were crampled from a North American standard, I followed Strongfirst's "Naked Warrior" programme, which is perfectly safe to do with anyone around. You might look into that. I have three kids. I won't introduce them to weightlifting until they are fully grown.
 

pet'

Level 8 Valued Member
Hello,

@Snowman
A good training is when you do your best, considering all the constraints you may have.

For instance, considering place, time, money:
  • S&S
  • With a PU bar : some pull ups (and variations) + HLR
  • With a wall : HSPU
  • On the floor : some push ups (and variations), pistols (and variations)
With the 3 last items of this list, some ladders and that’s it.

Kind regards,

Pet'
 

banzaiengr

Level 6 Valued Member
Snowman, congrats on the little one. I'm like many of the others in that was many years ago. At the time, like you I worked a crazy work schedule, as I still do. My wife also worked a weird schedule. So to accommodate that I worked weekends and had two days off during the week.

What I'm getting at is it all takes a toll on your "stress" level. Yea, we don't consider it stress but yet it is. For you and the Mrs. it's a whole new schedule as you well know. I recall a class I took once that stated the most stressful things in life were the following; a death in the family, a relocation, a new job, and a new child. If only I had known then what I knew now. That was back in the no pain/no gain days and I just beat myself up. My point is that looking back, and depending on your goals, S&S would be a very good fit in my opinion. It doesn't have to be done every day, it can be done only 3 or 4 days per week. The other thing is that it a quick session, 30 - 40 min. tops including warm up and the session itself. Any minimalist type training would do, but I would suggest 3 or 4 days per week to start and just see how that works and how you feel. Add more as appropriate.

As far as recovery, that's part of the puzzle. If you are beating yourself up every session it will be hard to recover. You will get sleep when you can so do the best you can. I think the solution here will be diet. Get your diet as a mentor of mine says, "sh*t hot".

The important thing is as you know, the child is the priority. It will all be a memory in 5 or 6 yr. when they start school. After that you'll turn around one day and they'll be leaving home and you'll wonder where the time went. Good luck
 

GreyFox

Level 1 Valued Member
I have two: 24 mo boy and 7 mo girl. My boy has always had a hard time staying well - 6 cases of Strep throats in 20 months, severe colic for months 3-9, terrible dust allergies that lead to sinus infections, now night terrors.... poor guy can't get a break, and without going into further detail we're always sleep deprived. Our daughter, though, is resilient and independent, sleeping through the night by month two, and routinely sleeping 12 hour stretches, waking only for a single bottle, rarely getting sick or demanding much attention. She's my quiet observer. But taking care of a sick toddler is still made more challenging by having a second child.

All of which is to say, I totally get it.

My saving grace: two 60 pound, high energy dogs. I walk them daily, and usually turn the walk into an easy, loaded ruck with my GR1 and ruck plates. In the evening, after the kids are in bed, I work on some stretching and self-release stuff, then zazen.

I have a back injury that makes swinging and deadlifting painful, so I don't do them anymore. (I'm still grieving this, but it is what it is.) However, I can do cleans with low volume and I can press just fine, so I try to fit in C&Ps a few times a week - more to maintain strength and sanity than anything.

I'll say this: pursuing measurable goals or following prescribed plans with small children has been a train wreck for me. A few weeks go smoothly, then someone gets sick or I spend too many sleepless nights caring for my kids and the plans fall apart. I get resentful and irritable, and stop acting like the kind of dad and husband I want to be. After a few attempts (you know... just to make sure), I've come to the conclusion that this is no way to live, and now I don't really follow any plans or aim to achieve any particular strength or conditioning goal.

Instead, I aim for health and pain-free movement, stress management, body comp maintenance (although improvement is nice - my sister-in-law
Commented today that I've slimmed down), peace of mind, self-worth and staying present for my loved ones, so I can be a better father and husband than my father was.
 
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yorkshirecomrade

Level 3 Valued Member
My thoughts in bullet points which have helped me- FWIW I have 2 boys (1 nearly 3 and the youngest is 4 months).

I've never been able to train like the good old parentless days again, at least not in the first few years, if you want to prioritise your role as a parent. I suppose you could get lucky with sleep patterns etc and your job, I did with the first one.

Pick a select few exercises which you know will make you better in the long term. Obvious things like swings, squats, deads, pull ups etc... I chose Dan Johns One Lift a Day for nearly 18 months with the first and it worked a treat and kept me focuses for short periods when I could. Granted, due to my tiredness I only really maintained and didn't make much progress but feeling the groove meant a lot to me.

I used my time knowing I could not all out train and I made it about maintaining, could be maintaining patterns or body comp etc. for others

Your sleep deprivation will at times (most of the time) get the better of you. You have to live with this. Sometimes I found it better to prioritise sleep and food.

Training with one is a lot easier than when another arrives.

Also, having kids ages you, regardless of how good you are and your kids are, this has recently made me focus more on movement patterns and maintaining/improving ranges of motions under load etc... I'm currently prioritising goblet squats, get ups, macebell (doing wonders for my thoracic, scapular region) and loaded carries. That's it, I don't focus on progressing or structured work, I just do what I can and when I feel I can. I might focus on goblets three days on the trot with varying intensities etc and not touch them for 8 days and focus on other things. I'm not currently recording my sessions, if I do I will get frustrated by how little I do. I just record the days I do something.

When the weather is decent I get the kids in the garden get everything out and just spend several hours or the day doing a variety of different things at infrequent intervals. Have fun for a few years before the kids let you get a set routine available - then go for it knowing you've spent a few years keeping your chains oiled.
 

LukeV

Level 6 Valued Member
This year my daughter reached 14 years and was admitted to the weights area of our gym. The rite of passage included a personal program developed by our resident physical trainer. My daughter goes to the gym once and, occasionally, twice per week. In the entire history of human physiology no-one has been more suited to the full body workout. Yet she returned from her PT session proudly waving around her new split (push/pull/legs) program. Why? Because the knucklehead PT gives everyone that program! So as a parent my first concern is to see that my children get a proper start in the iron game. Good luck to you and yours!
 
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