Friday, March 2, 2012

Coming to Class with a Newborn and an Older Sibling

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No doubt about it, many parents are intimidated by the idea of working out with more than one child.

I remember my own experience easing back into fitness after my second babe. I was attending Stroller Fitness classes as a participant, pushing my Mountain Buggy Double packed to the gunwhales with snacks, diapers and a yoga mat. Fifteen minutes into my first class, I was sitting on the front nursing my youngest while passing Cheddar Bunnies to the other... a ton of work, indeed, and I wondered if I would manage to get any of the exercises in! But I stuck with it and I quickly learned to show up ahead of class to give my newborn a feeding on the park bench while my older daughter burned off a bit of energy at the playground, followed by a pit-stop & diaper change. At the beginning of class, I gave my eldest a Snack Trap full of granola and a sippy cup, while my youngest would soon doze off when we started moving. By the end of class, my eldest was happy to get out of the stroller to do her 'stretches' with the grown-ups and be a helper when I needed to attend to her little sister. It wasn't long before I was reaping both the physical and mental benefits that I so often preach as an instructor!

I've had many parents attend classes with siblings successfully, and here's what works:
  • Class Types? Stroller Fitness and Stroller Bootcamp are both safe options for attending with a mobile older sibling.
  • Try it out first! Two schedules, two sets of needs... consider trying class as a drop-in first to see what works. Contact your local instructor to be sure that the class type you are attending allows drop-ins.
  • Be prepared. The night before, pack your diaper bag and stroller so getting out in the morning will be that much more stream-lined.
  • Make it special. One very successful mom used to bring special plaintain chips for her older daughter to munch on while she worked out, and she reserved this snack as 'Stroller Fitness Only' - her 2yr old quickly caught on! This also works with special toys or new library books.
  • Make a day of it! Since it takes so much work to get out in the first place, plan to make the day an outing. Visit the playground or indoor play gym ahead of time to burn off the energy of an older sibling. Pack a nutritious lunch for afterwards and have a picnic!
  • Involve Your Child. Keeping safety in mind, let your older child be part of your workout. Let him help count out your reps, or have fun naming the exercises that you're doing. During core & stretch, encourage your older child to get down on their own 'mat' (diaper change pad, blanket, etc) and do the exercises with you - as you can see below, it's never to early to be a positive role model for your child!

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What has worked for you?

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