If you have young children you know that those days when you were the master of your schedule are gone forever. And even if you’ve chosen to be a parent there’s no shame in admitting that sometimes, despite the infinite love you have for them, you wish you could go back to being your old self for a moment, with no other person to be responsible for but yourself: resting when you need to, working late if you have a deadline, eating when you’re hungry and going for a walk when you feel like it. If you are a stay-at-home parent (I admire you deeply), even more so.
Trying to fit a yoga practice into a house with kids may seem like mission impossible, but here are some ideas you can put into practice to make room for some well-deserved “me time”.
9 ways to practice yoga with kids at home
1. Ask your partner:
Quid pro quo. If possible, negotiate a time trade with your partner. Although it can, it doesn’t have to be a whole morning or afternoon. Take what you’re offered and enjoy it.
2. Include your children in your practice:
If you have a baby, try guided meditation while breastfeeding or taking a pram ride. If they are awake, talk to them as you move and tell them what you are doing: “Mummy is raising her arms” or “We are spreading our fingers wide, pressing our knuckles on the mat…“. Babies love to hear their mother’s voice and will be entertained by watching you change position at the same time.
As they get older some children (not all) may start to imitate you when you practice on the mat. It can be a great way to connect with your child in a different way and perhaps plant a seed for them to become a yoga practitioner in the future too.
3. Use their nap time:
A yoga practice doesn’t have to last 60 minutes! You can use that time, no matter how short or long, to move on the mat, meditate, sit quietly, journal, or do breath work to calm the mind.
4. Hire a babysitter:
Research and hire someone who can look after you baby or children for a couple of hours. Feed your baby o pump your milk before the babysitter arrives so you don’t have to worry about them being hungry. A reliable high school student may also be an option: for them it’s a good way to earn pocket money and for you may be more affordable than a professional babysitter.
5. Ask a relative or friendly neighbour:
Some people love spending time with babies and children, especially because, as exhausting as it may be to entertain and care for them, it is only for a short period of time after which they can “return” them to their parents without strings attached.
6. Arrange a play date with another mum and reciprocate:
When the children are old enough, you can organize a play date with another mum. Be sure to return the favour soon so that she also has time for herself and, if it works out well for both of you, you can repeat the experience.
7. Practice before they wake up or after they go to bed:
This can be trickier if your child has an irregular schedule. Try practising before they wake up to start the day with them energised, or after they go to sleep to disconnect, realign and reconnect with yourself.
8. Create a diversion:
If you have babies, prop them up with blankets and toys and place them close to you so you can watch them and they can see or hear you while you do some yoga. If you have older children, organise a game for them or take advantage of when they are watching a short movie or cartoon and use that time to sneak off and hop on the mat.
9. Talk to them:
We tend to underestimate their capacity to understand certain things “because they are children”. Explain to them why those 20 minutes are important to you, that just as you need to eat and go to the toilet you also need a few quiet moments to move, relax and breathe. You may even be surprised at how understanding and wise children can be.
Are you a busy mum trying to reconnect with yourself? Join my FREE 5-day Self-Care Challenge for Busy Mums and within less than a week find the balance you need through simple yet effective strategies.