I was home on maternity leave and I started to get a little bit bored. I decided to enroll in an online degree program when my son was about six weeks old. Little did I know that with each passing day, he would do exactly what babies are supposed to do: he'd grow up.
By the time that he was two and I was in the middle of my graduate program, the days of watching him sleep or happily lay on his play mat for hours were gone. He wanted to move and play like any other toddler. When it can sometimes feel tough to find a moment to use the bathroom by yourself, how can you possibly fit in your yoga practice?
Let's start off by believing that with a little creativity and elbow grease, that it IS possible. Here are some tips to help you get started.
1. Get Out of the House
Whether you work outside or inside of the home, I'm sure you can relate to the need to have some time for yourself. One of your best options to find time for yoga is to leave the house. Talk to your partner and let them know your intention to have a daily yoga practice. Check out local studio or gym yoga offerings.
Find a few times during the week that work for you and honor yourself and your commitment by leaving the house to practice.
2. Become an Early Riser
I never thought of myself as an early riser, but I've become one in the past several years with just a little bit of practice. I won't lie to you: those first couple of days will be tough. But once you're over the hump, getting up early will get easier with each passing day.
If your child wakes up at 7 a.m., rise at 6 a.m. for your practice. I promise you, if you stick with it, you'll come to appreciate that hour of peace and quiet and you'll realize that the benefits of rising early outweigh the costs.
Remember, getting up early assumes that you'll hold yourself accountable at night by going to bed at a reasonable hour. Resist the urge to continue that Netflix binge until midnight and turn the lights out no later than 10 p.m.
3. Kid Swap
When my son was a toddler, his best friend lived down the road with his mom. She and I became close friends and we would often swap kids in order to get time for ourselves. We didn't have to pay a babysitter and we knew that the kids were happy and safe right down the street.
Talk to other parents at the playground, in your neighborhood, or at your child's daycare. As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. See if they'd be interested in swapping kids a couple of times each week. Resist the urge to use that time to clean the house and instead use it for your daily yoga practice. Your child will come home to a centered and happy parent.
4. Prioritize Your Time
Here's one of the biggest challenges of a daily yoga practice when you have a little one at home. When your child is napping or sleeping, it can be very easy to just collapse into a chair and stare at your screen. Don't! Or at least not at first.
There's nothing wrong with catching up on social media or your favorite shows—just be intentional about it. Prioritize your practice. When you put your toddler down for a nap, or at night when they fall asleep at bedtime, make things easy for yourself by already having your yoga mat rolled out and by wearing your yoga clothes. Head directly for your mat to begin your practice.
Learning to put first things first is an important time management and life skill.
5. Be Flexible (Pun Intended)
You've decided that your ideal time to practice is between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. each morning. But now, with a toddler in your life, that's prime parenting time. Should you give up on your practice completely? No!
With a child at home, one who's probably moving through a developmental stage where he or she is asserting independence, it's important to be flexible. Instead of an hour-long yoga practice today, you might get 15 five-minute sessions of yoga. Instead of fitting in an energetic morning practice, you might end up having a calm and soothing night practice. Let it be what it is. The most important thing is that you find at least a few minute each day to breathe, move, and to be.
Maintaining a daily practice is a challenge for any yogi, but it can be particularly daunting for the parent of a toddler. By applying some of these recommended steps, you'll be more likely to maintain, and maybe even expand, your daily yoga practice.
As always, remember to let ahimsa (the yogic philosophy of non-harm) lead. If you miss a day of practice, don't beat yourself up. You're doing a great job. Give yourself a hug and begin again tomorrow. Yoga is always there, waiting for us when we're ready.
What are some of the ways that you've maintained your yoga practice after having kids? How do you keep your practice going with a toddler in the house?
Image Credit: Aneta Gab