What Everyone Should Prioritize
As new parents, it is hard to find time for a long list of things we used to do, but I’m going to focus on one thing in particular – working out – but before you roll your eyes at me for telling you to hit the gym, listen.
Hitting the gym is often the first thing to go from a new parent’s schedule. You’re tired, you’re busy, and you probably hate the gym. It’s a logical first cut to free up some Netflix and chill time. Or even some shower-without-a-toddler-banging-on-the-door time.
But for my husband and me, working out is important. It’s our priority. Not just because we are fairly vain people who want to look our best, but because it’s what we know. It’s were we find order in our chaos and routine in our uncertainty.
You’ve probably heard, “It’s not what you FIND time for. It’s what you MAKE time for.” And that couldn’t be more true, especially for parents! We have the same amount of hours in our day as everyone and the same responsibilities as any toddler-parents. We don’t have a unicorn child who never needs tending, or isn’t exhausting to keep up with. We just decided that we would prioritize gym time however we needed to. Even if that meant 7pm after the little C monster was in bed. We would MAKE the time.
As I’ve mentioned before, about three years ago, I found an at-home routine that I loved. It was high intensity, high reps, and high cardio. Think burpees, step ups and jump squats. I saw results, I stuck to it. It worked for me! I understood it. Jon tried it with me exactly one time and hated it. “This is stupid!” he said with his hands on his knees and sweat dripping from his nose.
He’s always been into weights. Heavy weights. Something I never understood. How can you consider it a workout while being so stagnant? Spoken like a soccer player, eh? But if we were going to share gym time, we decided to share a routine. His routine. At first, I struggled. I hated it. And then I started to notice something that was coming from this new arrangement besides muscles.
I realized we had found quality time together. Time where we had to interact rather than just co-exist. So often we both throw ourselves on the couch and get lost in two or three episodes of whatever is on. We snuggle, we laugh, we comment, but it’s not the same type of interaction. In the gym, we both get exasperated, or frustrated. We find our limits. We find our strengths. We compete. We share emotions. We show our vulnerability to each other. We triumph together. That is what quality time is made of – getting to see the best and worst of each other.
Another benefit is weight lifting takes me from my element and forces me into his. There is something about weight lifting that just does not click in my mind. The moves, the numbers on the plates, the individual muscles that need targeting, I just do not get it. And I HATE to not know something. I like to learn, but I hate to be instructed. This time in the gym forces me to take instruction. It forces me to admit that he knows better than I do and I have to just listen and follow – not something I do well. But the weights are his domain and through this, he’s learning to speak the way I hear and I’m learning to listen the way he speaks.
So while we are out in our garage-turned-gym to grow muscles, we are also growing our relationship. While we hone our physical strength, we are strengthening our communication. That’s why working out is a priority in our full-time-working, toddler-parenting, baseball-coaching schedule.
As new parents, old parents, newly-weds, you should find your “gym” and prioritize it. Find that thing that makes you focus on each other and makes you communicate. find the activity you love that makes you feel more like YOU. It might be the couch as you cry together over the latest episode of This is Us. Maybe it’s the kitchen as you cook some fancy gourmet meal. Maybe it’s the bedroom as you…go over the water bill… whatever that place of connection is, find it. Prioritize it.