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NewsTribune photos/Scott Anderson Elizabeth Penrod and her son Riley of Cedar Point float around the therapy pool inside Peru YMCA Aquatic Center. The mother and son are participating in the “Aquatot” class which develops children 6 months to 3 years and is designed to provide skill and confidence while strengthening the bond between parents and children through songs and fun activities. Classes focus on caring, honesty, respect and responsibility, promoting lifelong skills and positive values.
When you’re elbows deep in dirty diapers and wondering how long it has been since your last shower, staying active and being healthy may be the last thing on your mind.
Being a new parent and working fulltime makes it hard to adjust to a new, busy way of life.
Parents — both new and experienced — should take the time to focus on a healthier lifestyle.
Get yourself moving After spending all day at work and coming home to an active baby, finding time to do anything other than sleep may be close to impossible. Taking less than an hour of your day’s busy schedule can make a difference when it comes to getting in shape.
“Thirty to 40 minutes of some type of exercise a day,” is what Illinois Valley YMCA health and wellness director Cami Loving recommended.
“Women in particular think cardio, cardio, cardio, but strength and weight training is just as important when trying to lose weight,” Loving said. “I would recommend 3 or 4 days of cardio and 1 or 2 days of strength training.”
To bond with your baby, exercise classes are available that help parents keep active, and can teach kids a thing or two about being happily healthy, too.
Illinois Valley YMCA in Peru offers an Aquatots class for parents to bring kids age 6 months to 3 years for swimming lessons, and children will bond in the pool get in some light exercise.
Brian Brown, an Aquatots teacher as well as a participant, says the class is a great way to introduce kids to the water. The class is just one part of an active lifestyle for Brown and his family.
“We go to Baker Lake and walk around there,” Brown said.
Stress management helps New parents are facing many changes in their everyday life which add stress on everyone, including their new bundle of joy.
“We recommend stress management techniques to help them regain control,” said Diane Farrell, a licensed clinical social worker at North Central Behavioral Health Systems in La Salle. “Parents are going through emotional changes and changes in the structure of their day — if they have any left.”
Farrell said new parents often feel inadequate or insecure about their parenting skills.
“They are battling between how everyone thinks they should feel and how they actually feel,” Farrell said.
New parents dealing with stress often are advised to talk with someone. That can be a support group or a therapist.
“It helps to talk it through and overcome changes, it doesn’t come naturally,” she said.
The first steps in managing stress may help overcome changes on their own. Farrell discussed a few options that can help diminish stress including:
Communication — New parents should talk to each other about what they are feeling.
Recognition — Parents should recognize the new changes in their lives, and address each of those changes individually.
Alone time — New parents should find time to get away for themselves. Hand the baby over to a trustworthy sitter and enjoy a little alone time.
“Try and implement a previous thing they did that makes them feel good about themselves,” Farrell recommended.
Exercise — Just going on a walk will change the way you feel.
“Any kind of exercise is a benefit,” according to Farrell. Support is available If new parents are getting frustrated, support is available.
“They may be frustrated that things aren’t as easy as it used to be,” Farrell said.
If parents are comfortable with their family doctor, asking them where to find help offers a number of options for the parents.
“Most doctors will have resources,” Farrell said.
If you find yourself in need of help or support, don’t be afraid to ask.
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