When Going To Work Becomes A Rest

Before I had my children I used to dream about maternity leave.  A whole year off work, days pottering around at home watching afternoon movies whilst snuggling a newborn on the couch.  As every new mum soon finds out those days are few and far between and the tiredness is like nothing you’ve ever known.  Suddenly going to work seems like the easier option!

New research from Graco has revealed how active new parents are compared to office workers who regularly exercise. According to the research new parents spend an average of nearly eight hours a day on their feet, with nearly a third spending more than 10 hours on their feet each day.  In comparison, office workers who regularly hit the gym spend an average of just five hours a day on their feet.

Graco recently sent me a Fitbit to measure how active I am during the day and I couldn’t wait to compare my days at work to my days at home.  I am not an office worker, I’m at teacher, I spend the majority of my day on my feet, walking around the classroom checking on my students, I was pretty sure my working days would be just as active as my home days.

Turns out I was right but not for the reasons that I thought.  I don’t do anywhere near as many steps at work as I thought I would, the steps come in the morning and when I’m running around after the boys, getting them dressed and dropping them off where they need to be and again in the afternoon with pick-ups, dinners and bath time to coordinate.  Quite often at work my Fitbit would buzz to remind me to get those steps in if I hadn’t been in a lesson and had been sat at my desk for a while.

As a working parent it really is non-stop, especially with a new walker who is into everything he shouldn’t be.  I can’t remember the last time I had a bath which isn’t surprising as new parents (can I still call myself a new parent when G is 16 months old) enjoy a soak only once every eight months.  I rarely have time to make use of my gym membership but despite this my weight is staying fairly stable and now I know why. On a normal day, parents can carry up to 6kg so when this is combined with the additional weight of a baby, this tots up to over 17.5kg –the equivalent of lugging around a heavy suitcase!  Have you seen the size of G, he is definitely the reason my arms are starting to look a bit more toned! 

As well as recording my steps the Fitbit also monitors my sleep and this has been a pleasant surprise as I actually get more sleep than I thought.  Thankfully, the boys seem to have got outgrown the waking at 5:30am stage and that extra hour is such a luxury, most nights I do manage to get at least seven hours in, even if it is disturbed a few times by a restless G.

As a mum who has only recently returned to full time working the research doesn’t surprise me.  I know that I spent a lot more time running around when I was at home with my boys.  There were school runs to do, the supermarket trips, visiting family and friends, baby classes, our days were packed.  Spending the day in one place at work is easier in comparison although I miss my little men more than anything.  Now the busiest times of the day are the mornings and afternoons.  Once the drop offs are done I can take a breath and relax on the way into work as for several hours I only have myself to worry about.

Life is so busy at the moment and the key to everything running smoothly is routine and organisation.  I have to admit sometimes I’m a bit guilty of winging the organisation and I always regret it in the morning when I should have packed the bags the night before.

Tanith Carey, a parent and author of Parent Hacks, has a few top tips for making your day go as smoothly as possible:

  1. Forget bulky handbags which can turn into bottomless pits and get in the way when you’re on the go with a little one, free up your hands by wearing a backpack instead.  I have two backpack changing bags and I love them both.
  2. Choose a light weight pushchair. At 3.6kg, the Graco Featherweight is about the weight of an average new-born baby, and suitable from birth to 15kgs or approximately three years. You will be able to brave going anywhere because it can be folded with one hand and thrown over your shoulder with a carry-strap. It also folds vertically, and stays free-standing, so it’s perfect for public transport and particularly buses where you’re often required to fold up pushchairs.  
  3. Before you head out shopping make sure you don’t overload yourself by snapping a picture of the inside of your fridge on your phone so you have an instant visual reminder of what you do – and don’t need – to buy. This will save you time and money on unnecessary shopping!
  4. Go shopping at the quietest times, early morning is good. With young children, you’re more likely to be up than the rest of the adult population. Or, now that there are more 24-hour supermarkets, if you have a partner who’s at home, go at night when the kids are in bed to avoid stress, tantrums from bored children, and longer trips
  5. To cut down on the time you spent on your feet and out and about, group your errands together by choosing a supermarket, or shopping area, that has other services you need, like dry-cleaning, shoe-mending, a pharmacy and postal services.

Before going back to work I would often use these tips, we would be the ones in the supermarket at 9:15 after school drop off time, and I never go without a list.  Okay, that’s because I would never remember anything I needed without it but it does make me more focused and the shopping trip a lot quicker.

One of Tanith’s tips I wouldn’t have thought would make to much difference was using a lightweight stroller.  However, we have been using  the Graco Featherweight for a couple of months now and it has made my working mum life so much easier.  As it lives in my car I don’t have to worry about whether I will need to take the big pram with me.  If I want to quickly pop to the shop after picking G up from nursery I know that it’s in there and is so easy to use with it’s one hand opening.

My full review will be live on the blog later this week.

Disclosure:  This post is written in collaboration with Graco as part of my ambassador role.


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