Little Adventures – Flexing Those Parenting Muscles

by Cassidy Nunn | photo by Nunn Other Photography – 

I’d been told having kids is a workout – both mentally and physically – and while there’s nothing that can fully prepare you for this unique workout ahead of time, what I’m learning is that each childhood phase strengthens a different set of my muscles. As I continue this parenting journey, I’m constantly surprised by how my body (and mind) continue to adapt and change as needed.

First there were the newborn workouts: the constant stream of diaper changes; marathon nursing sessions and neverending trips back and forth to the washing machine. Then came learning to wrestle the stroller in and out of vehicles and strapping the baby carrier to my chest while trying to safely insert the squirming baby into said carrier. This is all while coping with the most extreme sleep deprivation, the adjustment of being responsible for this precious new life, and the sudden shift in my own identity as a person and mother. As with any workout performed daily, my muscles slowly strengthened, adapting to this new lifestyle. Just as I felt I was mastering the newborn workouts, boom – the next phase began: crawling.

With my daughter’s newfound mobility, my daily training shifted to my eyesight as I constantly frantically scanned the ground for any perceived dangers; would she hurt herself if she bumped into that sharp edge? What about that piece of lint; will it end up in her mouth? Probably. Wait – is that a choking hazard? It was time to install the baby gates and add soft padding to every single pointy edge in sight. My eyes were soon as sharp as a microscope: they could zero in on a piece of dirt in milliseconds and I’d dive for the perceived danger just as my little one would shift into turbo gear and speed crawl towards it.

Soon, she added in pull-ups, scaling up the side of the couch or coffee table, heaving herself into an unsteady upright position. This was usually followed by a giant grin of satisfaction and a gleeful squawk to announce to the world her latest achievement. This phase introduced my body to what I like to call the “hover position:” I would bend at the waist and the knees, hold my arms out as if preparing to give a giant hug and shuffle around the house after her. When she began to walk, as much as I tried to resist it my inner helicopter came out in full force and the hover position was in constant use. Tumbles and accidents still followed, despite my diligent hovering efforts. Just when I thought I’d need a lifetime’s worth of massages to alleviate my aching back, my daughter became steady enough on her feet to start running. The hover position was quickly replaced with the simple “sprint-after-your-bolting-child” move, which is rather effective so long as you can keep up with their quick starts, stops and abrupt direction changes.

Now that my daughter is two, we’re well into the toddler phase of endless energy. Recently I spent a solid consecutive 35 minutes racing in circles with her around my living room – an owl stuffie in one hand and a puppet bear in the other (both upon my daughter’s strict orders!). Every time I tried to rest for a lap by sitting on the couch, she’d dash over and command me to “off couch!” This afternoon of cardio was followed by another favourite game which we’ve come to call “knee walking” where, yes as you may have guessed, we walk around on our knees until we topple over, stomach muscles burning from laughter.

Even though we’re sleeping much better these nights, it still feels like I’ve participated in a triathalon by the end of the day. But as I veg out on the couch after she’s asleep in her crib and scroll through the photos and videos I’ve taken that day, the ache dulls and my sore muscles remind me of how strong they’ve become, preparing me for the next exciting milestone.

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