The year is 2020, and I have just had a baby. My third baby. On January 9, I gave birth to my little (and last!) Squish, as I affectionately referred to him. I remember thinking I didn’t want anyone to visit me because it was flu season. Little did I know that in two months, my world was about to change, as it would also for everyone else around me.
Two months later, in March 2020, the world shut down. I remember the timeline so vividly. My daughter was about to turn eight on March 16, a Monday, and I was emailing her teacher about sending in cupcakes for that day. That’s the day the world shut down.
We thought it would be a short two-week hiatus from school, and I assured her that she could have the cupcakes when they all return. We all know how that turned out. She never got to have her party at school. I was now essentially home alone and quarantining with an eight-year-old, a three-year-old who still wasn’t potty trained, and a newborn who I was trying to breastfeed after being unsuccessful with my first two children.
My husband was a first responder and was gone all the time. This, compounded with the fact that I couldn’t have my parents, friends, or family over to help, really took a toll on me.
The first year was a blur. Being a mother of three was exhausting. With no extra hands to help, running on no sleep, and throwing in the stress of COVID lurking at every corner and homeschooling, it was just too much.
I remember thinking that after I stopped nursing when I hit a year, it would be easier, and I would make time for myself. It would be my time to do something for myself. I spent my entire thirties pregnant and caring for babies, and I needed a pick-me-up. I wanted to feel good in my own skin.
I had never been a gym person. Honestly, I never really worked out at all! I occasionally ran or took a dance class, but that was it. I saw an ad for a stationary bike, and for some reason, I knew that bike was for me, and it ended up saving my sanity.
I had only taken one spin class in my twenties and barely remembered it. I remember keeping the resistance the same the whole time because it was just too hard, and I was sweating profusely.
When I mentioned to my husband that I wanted to order the bike so I could work out at home when my son went down for naps, he said he thought it was a great idea and that I should order it if I wanted it and if I thought I would use it. I know he felt it would become a coat rack for my clothes, but who was he to mess with an emotionally charged postpartum woman who just wanted to feel like herself again?
I received my bike in December 2020 and started riding. By January 2021, I said goodbye to breastfeeding and increased my workouts. I fell in love with this bike. It allowed me time to myself a few times a week, even for only twenty minutes daily.
I didn’t have to leave my house to get a great workout and also didn’t have to worry about childcare. I ensured I got on that bike when the baby napped and the big kids were comfortable and busy. I would usually choose the 80s and 90s rides with my favorite instructors or a hip-hop ride if I were in a particular mood. The instructors were always so inspiring, and some of them were hilarious. I’d wind up laughing the whole ride wondering where the last twenty minutes went.
My bike was the only workout I ever stuck to in my life, and I currently have a 118-week streak that I am annoyingly proud of. Some days I only work out two days a week, while others can be six times.
I’m not hard on myself because time is scarce with three kids, but I allow myself the time to hit the bike, sing, dance, and enjoy myself when I can. I usually belt out my favorite songs loud enough for the whole neighborhood to hear.
It’s not selfish to take care of yourself. I believed that it was for a long time.
One silver lining during COVID for me was learning to love myself and do something daily or weekly that brought me joy. Not to mention, I became physically healthier and was more comfortable in my skin than I ever had been.
If spinning isn’t your thing, find out what it is and allow yourself to have your time. Anytime I feel my sanity slipping, or my kids are driving me crazy, I get everyone settled and tell them that I will be back upstairs in twenty minutes. My bike saves my sanity.