So what can you do to motivate yourself to run regularly and to increase your mileage? Sign up for a race, obviously!
I have signed up for my first post-pregnancy race; My local half marathon that I used to run as the first race of the season.

However, this time round, I have decided to run with baby in his running pram!

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I have refrained  from running with a pram until now, when Oliver can sit up straight unsupported. Our pram is licensed from birth (with a special newborn insert), but I only felt comfortable using it for walks until now. We absolutely love it though, and I can safely say that it’s my favourite baby buy so far.

Anyway, going back to our first race together, I have decided to follow a training program this time round. Even though I picked a plan that should prepare us to complete the distance in 1:45, I wouldn’t be too upset if we took longer than that. Here’s why we are following a training plan:

Increase mileage sensibly

I felt like I’d benefit a lot more from a more structured approach this time. I have only used training plans before if I was training for a marathon or wanted to improve my PB. However, after having a long time off from running, I needed a schedule to help me run the right number of miles a week. Not too few or too many, and a plan that would fit with my new mummy lifestyle 😴

Prevent injury

Steadily increase the number of miles in each run and running regularly will help to prevent injuries. I remember a few years ago when I was doing one of my first races I decided to catch up on my mileage a day before the race. What a mistake! My IT band totally went and I ended up hobbling the last kilometers and seriously injuring myself. Never again.

Pace and endurance

You don’t even realize how much you use your arms while running until you cannot use them as you have to push a pram. I need to learn to pace myself properly and practice my endurance as I need to get that pram to the finish line, or at least swap with Daddy somewhere on the course.

Stay motivated and positive

Finally, having a plan will help to stick with it, get out there when it’s rainy (like during that parkrun – pic above) stay motivated and positive!

I really hope that the plan will help us to complete our first race.

Our training is under control, and actually, I’ve realised recently that this is the only part that is up to me. One of my friends who’s also running with a buggy pointed out that her son doesn’t really like to be in the pram for long, so let’s see how we get on! I might also end up changing a nappy (I instantly thought of Paul Radcliffe 😂 or doing feeds somewhere on the course!

Keep your fingers crossed for us!

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Photo by Liam Walsh

Yoga plays an absolutely huge role in my life! At a very basic level it helps me to look after my physical and mental wellbeing.

Physically it helps me to stretch, which is important for runners, and strengthen my body. Mentally it helps me to relax, it makes me feel grounded and helps me to live in ‘the now’.

I’ve been practising yoga for many years now, and was lucky enough to be able to carry on while pregnant, though I obviously had to make some modifications.

I was super excited to learn that Zoe, my prenatal yoga teacher was also running classes for babies. I wasn’t sure what to expect though! Would I do yoga with Baby in a sling, or will Baby who was mostly asleep at the time also do some yoga? I was intrigued and knew that we would sign up as soon as Oliver was big enough!

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For me, the classes are a very special way to spend time with each other. I enjoy the relaxed and soothing atmosphere, Oliver loves his stretches, swinging and singing. He shows his appreciation by endless smiling, dribbling and trumping during yoga, and a great sleep after (coffee time, bonus!).

I could go on and on about the benefits of yoga, but instead I have invited Zoe Lowrie, yoga teacher and owner of Honeychild Yoga to tell you more about baby yoga, how and when to start and of course the benefits for you and your baby.

Once you have a baby and get into some kind of routine you’re ready to sign up for baby groups to get out of the house and see other mums. However, it’s important to find a class that is suitable for our lovely babies who are very sleepy at the beginning! So when would you suggest starting baby yoga? When is the best for the mums and for babies?

Gentle baby yoga exercises can be started from as young as 4 weeks old, especially the digestive moves such as knees into tummy. I recommend classes from 12 weeks, however. A couple of reasons: it’s very tiring and younger babies will only really take part for 15-20 minutes, head and neck strength is useful for some of the more dynamic exercises like supported sitting, and lastly mums have generally got the hang of routines and getting out and about without too much stress by 12 weeks!

Does the mode of delivery matter in resuming this type of exercise?

Not really. As long as mum has had her post-natal checks. Some of the lifting exercises we do should be approached with care after caesarean birth as it can still impact the abdominal muscles. I often give cues if that’s the case. Also getting up and down off the floor. Often we don’t even think about it, but simply picking baby up off the floor can result in a twinge or discomfort, so there’s a ‘baby yoga way’ of doing it.

Is baby yoga suitable for someone who’s totally new to yoga, or is there any previous experience necessary? What about the equipment and clothes?

The beauty of baby yoga is that any mum (or dad for that matter) can take part and enjoy the sequences. Elements of post-natal yoga only really make up about 25% of the class – and they’re very suitable for any ability. That’s not to say it couldn’t be more, I’d love to spend the whole class teaching just post-natal yoga! But I take the view that you’ve got a fairly short window of opportunity to enjoy yoga with your baby. Although they like to watch us stretching, they get bored pretty quickly if they’re not involved!
No equipment needed – and something you can stretch and feel comfortable in – doesn’t have to be yoga gear (although jeans are not ideal!)

So what are the main benefits for babies?

Ah so many! There’s the purely physical benefits – easing digestive comfort, helping with colic, exercises that unfold and strengthen their little bodies. Then there’s the cognitive and emotional stuff – gentle stimulation that isn’t too overwhelming, co-ordination and discovery of what their amazing bodies can do (I love watching babies smile as if to say “look what I can do now – all by myself!”). That it’s ok to just sit and stare off into the distance while mum relaxes, helping them to self-soothe. As we move through the weeks and babies get older, we explore more adventures and dynamic exercises – flying, rolling and swinging are all fantastic fun but help enormously with baby’s confidence and trust.

We know now about the benefits for our lovely babies. How about the benefits for mums – except getting out of the house obviously?

Baby yoga is one of the few classes that you do together, ‘with’ your baby rather than ‘to’ your baby. It’s a very joyous class – I always encourage enthusiastic singing (which babies adore, even if we don’t think we’re great at it) which is magical for lifting the spirits. It’s an opportunity to stretch out the areas where we hold tension and tiredness, in the shoulders, the upper back and the chest. We practice pranayama, even though it’s often ‘disguised’ as playing with babies – such as bhramari breath (humming) or full abdominal breathing which is amazing for restoring balance. The end of the class features a relaxation – which takes a few times to get used to for mums new to yoga. I notice the hardest thing is for mums to actually close their eyes and turn inwards – using it as an opportunity to restore and heal. When it happens it’s one of the most rewarding parts of the class for me as I can see them literally ‘let go’.

New mums know that there’s nothing like a real schedule with a baby, so feeding and nappy changing can happen anywhere, including a yoga class! Each mum can take a break anytime and for as long as it’s needed. It’s such a lovely, relaxing, and of course baby-lead class, so is there anything else that we should remember about when practicing with our babies?

Yes, always check your baby is happy to do some yoga. Perhaps introducing it in the same way we do in class, with a massage or a little song. Generally speaking, only practice yoga together if baby is happy and alert. Use regular pauses for cuddles and reassurance. Notice which exercises are firm favourites versus those they resist.

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Ahhhhh! I feel totally relaxed after typing up our interview. I hope that you learnt a little bit about how baby yoga can be a beautiful way of spending time with your little one and also about its benefits. If you have any questions just post them in comments below or message me! Finally I wanted to add that even though it’s great to sign up for a class to exercise with other mums and babies, if for some reason this option is not available to you, there are plenty of baby yoga videos and resources online.

Namaste 🙏

So yesterday was one of those days which reminded me of our first week back from hospital after Oliver was born.
It was 4 pm when I looked around, the kitchen was super untidy (first day of weaning), there were half drunk cups of coffee everywhere, Emma’s and baby’s toys were all over the lounge, and I was standing there with my messy hair in a bun, no makeup and yoga pants, which I had put on first thing in the morning to do yoga. I looked at myself and thought – what a catch. All those stories about letting yourself go at a certain point in a relationship must be right…Or not..

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I quickly tidied up the house, had a shower using a pan of water (our shower is broken, nightmare!) and made everything look normal to feel like I actually accomplished something that day.

So this post is to remind myself how to organise my day on maternity leave, so that I can make the most of my day; spend meaningful time with Oliver, rather than giving him an extended time on his swing (hello parents, we’ve all been there!), do stuff that I enjoy without wasting any time.

I’ll start with a confession, before I became a mum, and as someone who works in a job that requires great organisational skills, I thought that people with kids who talk about not having time for anything just couldn’t organise themselves properly. But the truth is that having a small baby requires an extra level of organisational skills and a great deal of planning. I bet some people just go with the flow, but I’m just not one of them. So here are 4 simple things that help me to make the most of every day.

Get up early

There’s no such thing as a lie in in the morning once you have a baby. Unless you think about those rare days when I stay in bed until 7am hiding under the duvet when baby is gurgling loud inviting me to play with him.

So the best thing to do is not to press snooze, but just get up and start your day. I tend to get baby ready first and then put my yoga kit on, so that I can do a bit of baby yoga with him before he drops off for his first nap of the day.

Then I do my yoga and core stability work. I choose to exercise in the morning as a part of my routine as plans tend to change during the day, and at least I know that even if I cannot go for a run in the evening that I did that one thing for myself that day.

It’s quite nice to do it with Oliver by my side, but I have learnt that often I cannot complete a practice or exercise in one sitting, as I need to be able to pause at any minute and then go back to it.

Anytime during the day when he’s napping I try to do tasks that I wouldn’t be able to do when he’s awake, so any type of ‘thinking jobs’, important tasks, ‘life admin’ or writing.

Turn off social media and your phone

Social media is great, but it’s fair to say that this is the biggest time thief. Once I check my facebook feed, I visit Pinterest, and then Instagram, and then do the same thing again…
I even started checking social media during the night feeds, which had a negative impact on my ability to go back to sleep. So i try to go offline more often now, and particularly so if I want to focus on something. I also try to grab a book instead of checking facebook. I wrote about this before here.

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Plan your day

By planning my day I don’t mean some regimented schedule, but having a rough idea of what I want to do that day and any tasks that need completing. Every weekday, except Wednesday, I have something planned either with Oliver or by myself (like my weekly running group), so I try to organise each day loosely so that I have time to fit in life admin, house chores and walking Emma without compromising my time with Oliver.
I only have a more ‘strict’ schedule if I need to be somewhere or do something by a certain date. Then I’ll have a deadline in mind, but will start working towards it way in advance as I know that things take much longer now!

Do one thing a time

At work, I was the queen of multitasking and I thrived when doing several things at the same time, but this just doesn’t work at home. I tried a few times, and everytime I ended up with a crying baby, an excited dog jumping all over me, dinner on fire, and badly painted nails!

As I’ve said before, I never know what day of the week it is, but I feel like I’m making the most of my 53 weeks off. I know that I will not look back and think to myself ‘I wish I did that when I was off’. Having said that we do embrace an occasional sofa day or a day when we grab food for both of us and just spend the day walking around, which what we used to do most days in summer and autumn. Here’s a photo from our brunch date (spot the milk bottle) from October x

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I’ve been tidying up our food cupboard this morning as it seems that we had gazillions of nearly-empty bags of pasta in different shapes and other random ingredients that are not enough to make anything with.

Having said that, I also came across some left-over ingredients to make four (yes that’s 4!) energy balls, which were absolutely delicious and have already disappeared into our bellies.

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These are made with raw chocolate powder, which provides a super tasty chocolatey treat without any refined sugar.

Recipe:

6 Medjool dates
3/4 cup of almonds (soaked in water for 10 minutes)
2 tsp of raw cocoa powder
1 tbsp spoon of desiccated coconut
1 tbsp of almond milk (any milk or water would work. I use milk to ‘glue’ all the ingredients together)
1 tsp of vanilla extract (optional)

Blend all of the ingredients except the coconut together, roll into balls and then dust with the coconut. Enjoy!