Exercising with toddlers


I’m one of those women who leave hospital with a 3.5kg baby, and only 1kg weight loss. How is that even possible?

Of course, it starts with pregnancy. Other mothers have those neat little bumps that they fit their bikini bottoms underneath. My bikini bottoms don’t go up higher than my thighs. Not for me the happy frolicking pictures of a summer pregnancy in the pool. I am pregnant with my entire body. 

And breastfeeding? I have a little chuckle when I hear a mother humble brag about how the weight just fell off her and she can’t keep it on because of breastfeeding. Eat some food you stick insect. Fair enough, my tummy is flat – fat, but flat. Thank you breastfeeding for the magic shrinking uterus trick.

Most mothers seem to find that running after toddlers keeps them in shape. Perhaps my children just don’t run enough? Actually they’re so active I have been known to nod off to sleep mid conversation with family and friends as I’m so relieved to sit down. Or maybe round is just the shape I’m meant to be? (Notice how I’m not referring to how much chocolate I eat). 


When my first child was around two, I looked at myself as a matron of honour in my sisters wedding photos and realised that a large chunk of me had to go. I started watching my portion sizes, not eating chocolate and would get my son off to bed, wave goodbye to my husband and dash off to gym for an hour of quiet exercise and an uninterrupted shower. I was quite proud of myself for fitting this into my busy lifestyle. Work till early afternoon, fun with my child as we went about our evening, family supper cooked by my husband, gym, hitting the books for the correspondence degree I was doing. People asked how I was able to fit it all in. I thought they were complimenting me on my time management. Then I had a second child and realised they were having a laugh at my expense.

Exercising with two children

On a good night I might be able to have both children in bed and asleep and have eaten and had a conversation with my husband by 10pm. Gym is closed. There is also the small matter of my medical aid refusing to give me any grace or extension on my required gym visits as I had gone to the post natal classes while on maternity leave – and according to them that means I should easily be able to go now that I’m back at work. Just having a little snigger here. Hope they’re reading this. 

I have therefore taken up running. Since my Facebook friends all seem to do it so often and love it so much you see. How dare they shame me into this? I’ve told them they’ve motivated and inspired me though, so this is just our little secret. Actually, it was once again seeing myself on screen that did it. Even more of me must go this time though. 

Have you ever tried to run with a toddler? Initially I tried having the children jog with me – they just run off in opposite directions.  Then I tried one on a bicycle and the other on a black scooter. Well, one raced ahead and the other got left behind. Then I hit on it, I put the toddler in the pram and the older one with the dog on a leash. Bliss. 

But, I haven’t got one of those tip over in a light breeze three wheeler prams, I have a stroller. Fine when the wind is behind you – but try facing the wind.  Some days it is just not possible to run at all. I’ve taken to getting out a skipping rope and skipping in the lounge – at least I’m doing something. Another one of my secret exercise tricks is to tell the children we’re going to play at the park. Off we go, and then I tell them they have to stay on the jungle gym, and I run in circles around the edge of the park with just a quick dash here and there to rescue them as they dangle off the monkey bars. I’ve discovered that changing directions every fifth lap helps a bit. 

Of course, just as I happen to pat myself on the back for my brilliant time management with two children, I’ll see a mother of 8 competing in a triathlon. Well, I’m still pretty proud of being able to run around the block. And I’ve lost 2kg. 

How do you manage to balance exercise and young children?  

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