It happened on a day off from work. A day when I had 6- and 8-year old kids with me. Adorable but rambunctious kids who need their exercise every bit as much as I do. We had a formal event to attend in the morning, AND I actually had the discipline to make a post-event exercise plan which would be fun for them and productive for me…I even remembered a change of clothes, water, and a snack for them—I had my A-game.
Half an hour of running the treadmill followed by a combo of strength and flexibility in post-workout yoga. Not only was I thinking and planning like a champion…I had a plan to TRAIN LIKE A CHAMPION. And I was going to set a stellar example. It was all set to click like clockwork.
After surviving the formal event without too much public embarrassment, we set our course for the parent-kid area in our local base gym. This is a Plexiglas-fenced area with mats, cushions, nerf balls and a wall-mounted hoop, giant tic-tac-toe games, padded castle-building materials—a place where kids can entertain themselves, and basically bounce off the walls without hurting themselves, each other, or anyone else while we parents take 30 or 45 minutes to care for ourselves.
But alas…reality sneered and reared its ugly head. We arrived to find the place riddled with yellow caution tape, filled with wayward construction men conferring with airmen from base CE (civil engineering). There would be no workout for me. A dead end. No satisfaction arising from the discipline of overcoming family-based inertia. No release from the stresses of the week. No endorphin rush. No example set—just grumpy, deflated Mom. Not in my plan at all.
One child starts whining about how much he wanted to build. Here we go. Keep it together, Mom. Just until you get home…then you can hide in the bathtub. Ok, that’s it. Run and hide, and try again another day. That’s the new plan.
Change is something we deal with all the time in the military. Maybe I just forgot that part. Or maybe I had my hopes so firmly set on improving myself and setting the example in a certain way that I allowed inflexibility to seep in. Whatever the reason, I resisted it. Bigtime. And I was definitely deflated. Why did I see this as a dead end? Enter my saving grace…
“Mommy, can we go into the gym?”
“Honey, we are in the gym. Our spot is closed.” I state the obvious.
“No, Mommy, the big gym. With the nets in it.”
“What are we going to do in there?” I ask.
“I don’t know, play?”
What an idea that kid had! A genius! Between the hula hoops, mats, jump ropes, resistance bands, bosu balls, kettle bells, steps, and small dumbbells, we had an amazing obstacle course set up in less than 5 minutes. Three obstacle courses, actually—one for each of us.
The kids set up amazing “underwater research laboratories” with workout equipment simulating sensitive light and chemical detectors. They made rules on how to hop, crawl, or “swim” across the gym floor from one “lab station” to the other.
I ended up trying out a high-intensity circuit workout—something I hadn’t tried in over a decade due to injury. After 40 minutes, my whole body—including my heart and cardiovascular system—was thoroughly worked and stretched. I was exhausted. I was sweaty. Drenched, actually. I was a research subject. And I was happy, relieved, and connected to my kids in a way I’d been missing. THIS endorphin rush outshined any I could remember for a while.
I learned some things about the patterns of my thinking, my responses to certain kinds of situations. I learned how the pressure of being a good parent combined with the pressure to be good to myself can make me think and act. I also learned—from someone younger and smarter than me—how to outgrow patterns that no longer benefit me or those around me. The dead end turned into a detour, and the detour has become a challenging and fun trip.
The mind of a child helped to open a whole new habit for me, adding another tool into the wellness toolbox. In the five weeks since “our spot” was closed, I’ve been able to complete two or three of those workouts every week. I have more energy, I stand straighter, I get more done, and I can tolerate more stress. Not a bad idea straight from the mouth of a babe. But it wouldn’t have happened without that detour.
So…where will your next detour take you?
Here’s to Your Wellness,