I am often asked how I manage to keep up a regular yoga practice at home as well as looking after two young children.
I have come up with some tips to help keep you sane when all around you is a complete shambolic laundry-filled scream-fest. I often read well-meaning advice about getting up earlier and practicing when the kids are still asleep but there are several things in this sentence that make me want to laugh hysterically so I am sure you are same.
Imagining now you have no child-free time at all, here is how I do it.
1. Pin down a regular yoga slot
Work out a day/s and time in your diary that you are not planning anything else and in big red letters, write ME TIME YOGA. Do not allow anything to slip into this time. This is your time to practice and self-care is just as important, if not more at times, as looking after the rest of your family’s needs.
2. Choose a relaxed space
If possible, choose an area of your home that is bright, quiet and has enough room for all of you to be in without tripping each other up. You want enough room to practice without worrying about standing on lego and without too much stimulation. You may like to put on some relaxing music to calm young minds. In the Summer I practiced in the garden while the children played, which worked really well.
3. Preparation is key
Feed, change and provide a little simple entertainment for the kids before you start your own practice. I like to have them in the same space as me for two reasons. First as otherwise they will scream “MUUUMMMMMY” every 5 seconds until you go to them and, second, if they see you practice they will eventually get used to it and understand that they are safe, you are still there and just doing an activity for a set time. If Gro clocks works for your kids then you may want to use it for your practice. One good tip if they are being pests, is to tell them that you are going to practice together. Watch their eyes glaze over as they do anything other than join you on the mat. Works especially well for the slightly older child. My 5 year old would rather colour in her own eyeballs than practice yoga with me.
4. Keep going
Once you have started, keep going. I am not saying ignore your child’s blood curdling screams but if you have a general rule to keep going and keep interaction to a minimum, then they will learn to amuse themselves. They may be keen to join in at the start (see tip above!) but this is your time to practice and you can always do a little child friendly yoga sequence with them later. It is likely that you will have to lower your expectations for the few first sessions. My initial home practice lasted about 30 seconds before a child climbed on me but when I didn’t play, just gently moved her off and said she could watch, then she got bored and I can now generally do 45 minutes to an hour with minimal interruption.
5. Keep it simple
I tend to leave the more complicated routines for class practice. In the Summer I did practically the same routine every few days, the main point for me was keeping a practice going and using my class time to develop new poses.
6. Be creative
If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. If all else fails take it outside to a play ground. I am pretty sure the local parents where I live think I am a complete nutter but I often take the girls to the playground early on a Saturday morning and practice while they play.
I really hope this has been helpful.
If you are new to yoga and would like to learn the poses and principles of dynamic yoga (child in tow), then please do contact me about my BYOBaby child friendly dynamic yoga classes. This is yoga for adults but children are welcome to play in the same space. I am currently trying out different set-ups to see what works best!
Let me know how you get on and don’t give up!