A busy mum’s guide to finding exercise time

Kinderling News & Features

Shevonne in action...

Shevonne Hunt is the host of Kinderling Conversation.

The recipe for a happy life isn’t complicated; family, work, friends and health.

Family takes up most of my time, then work. Friends have been easier to include now my children are older, but health is often squeezed out because it’s so easy for the other three to take priority. Which is why, on a cold and rainy day, I was down at Bondi Beach, heading towards an angry sea and freezing my butt off.

Choose something you enjoy and that’s easy to do

I had decided that the best way to fit exercise into my life was to use the resources close at hand. I live a short drive from Bondi Beach and I enjoy swimming, so in a fit of inspiration I signed up to do Ocean Fit, an ocean swim course.

I should also add that I am not at all the athletic type and have a well-developed fear of waves. Probably because as an uncoordinated child and teen I had been dumped many times.

Our teacher Andre has the confidence of a man who has spent many hours in the ocean and an uncanny resemblance to Jeff Daniels in Godless (younger, and without the beard but still… unsettling).

Being clumsy and fearful of the ocean I responded well to his instructions and leapt into the waves with a spring I my step.

Only the first part of that sentence is correct.

I spent much of the first class thrashing about in the ocean, feeling puffed, stupid and getting dumped as much as I did as a kid.

How was this easy? And was it actually meant to be enjoyable???

Remember to bring your perseverance

I may not be brave or coordinated but one thing I am is committed.

I spent every night before our morning swims feeling nervous and wondering what the hell I’d signed up to, but I kept going.

As we walked towards the choppy sea that morning Andre assured us it would be fun.

And you know what? It actually was. Admittedly the fun part was laughing at myself every time I got knocked over by a wave, but it was still fun. I started to see the waves differently, not just as colossal walls of water that would drown me, but as things I could handle. Andre never let any of us chicken out of a swim, and I could see his (cold) logic now. The more time you spend in the ocean, the more you understand it, the less you fear it.

The next time I got in the water I noticed I had more confidence, which made me feel like I’d achieved something, which felt good. Win.

It's gotta give you more than a stitch and a red face

My aim with these classes was to get the confidence to swim a few laps of the bay, something I could fit in on a weekend morning while the kids played with my husband closer to shore.

There is also the added benefit of being out in the ocean in a beautiful part of the world.

I have no high goals of joining big ocean swims or becoming a tri-athlete. I know that my days of having a six-pack are long behind me. I’m not exercising for any of those reasons. I’m doing it because it makes me feel good and it brings me peace of mind.

I’ve found that in order to keep exercise as a regular event in my week, it has to give me something more than a stitch and a red face.

Firstly, it has to be easy to get to. Secondly it has to “fill my cup”.

Once I’ve checked those two boxes it’s no longer about “squeezing it in”. It becomes a priority, which is ultimately how anything gets done. 

How do you make time for exercise?