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Parenting: The Ultimate Workout

Posted: 10/19/11 10:10 AM ET

The holiday season is mere weeks away and our ambitions to fit into that cute sleeveless little black dress gain strength. But who has time or energy to work out? Good news, moms: it turns out you already are working out. As a public service, I just wanted to remind you of all of the exercising you're already doing.

The Toddler Squat: If you are the parent of a child between the ages of approximately one and four, you will spend a huge and torturous amount of time squatting ungracefully in front of them in order to zip up coats, tie shoes, wipe noses, scrub away crusted-on ketchup, discipline (i.e. yell at them, in their face), and pull up unintentional low rise pants (yours), pull-ups that are pulled down at inopportune moments (theirs), and assorted other items that keep falling off, untying and getting dirty. Stand in your front hallway and squat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

The Arm Stretch and Tone: Children of all ages like to hide personal belongings, or even better, perishable food items, underneath and behind heavy immovable pieces of furniture in your house. This will require you to lie down, bend over, or reach behind these objects while performing arm stretches which threaten to remove your shoulder joint from its socket. Wiggling fingers is a mandatory part of this exercise. If you can practice this maneuver before the item actually makes its way under the furniture, the eventual recovery of said item will be much easier.

Car Seat Resistance Training: Almost from birth, and certainly up to the age of five, children will take every opportunity to fight car seat confinement. This is most effectively achieved by back arching, kicking, and arm flailing. It will take all of your strength and toning skills to firmly place the child in the seat while not snapping limbs (theirs), breaking plastic buckles or getting kicked in the face by a tiny dirty boot. You will likely even break a sweat on this one. You could recruit the family pet to help you with this one, but it might get ugly. You're better off with a practice makes perfect approach, customized according to the appropriate child.

Butt-numbing "Hold" Position: As the parent of relatively young children, you will sit on hardwood floors, cross-legged (oh yes, you did sprain that ankle about 10 years ago and it still hurts when you do this), playing innumerable games of blocks, trains, cars, puzzles, marbles, weird pointy plastic thingys and other assorted mind- and butt-numbing pastimes. (This is one occasion where a well-padded seat is a blessing.)

Bathroom Sprint: An essential skill to master, the Bathroom Sprint should be practiced both from various locations in the house and in commonly frequented public places. Not motivated? Imagine yourself at 5 p.m., not having had a minute to go since 10 a.m. that morning. One good sneeze could ruin the only good pair of pants that you own. Or, picture this: racing around the store/library/mall/community centre trying to find relief for your "pee-dancing" four-year-old, who was fine when you left the house five minutes earlier. The best incentive of all? Knowing that once you dash down that hallway and leap into the bathroom, you might just find some peace and quiet for three and a half minutes. Well, okay. They'll discover that you're missing after about thirteen seconds, but with a locking door you can extend your escape to close to a minute.

The Flying Urination Tactic: This particular movement is meant to ward off that charming attack preferred by infant boys (children still engaging in this type of warfare after the age of seven should be sent straight to boarding school). You know the one I mean -- straight up into the mouth, eyes, nostrils or onto a favourite (and recently dry-cleaned) silk blouse.

The Innocent Bystander Movement: Children who can hit a neighbour's window -- bulls-eye -- with a softball can rarely hit their sisters across the dinner table with a loaded spoonful of mashed potatoes, peas, or even mayonnaise. It will hit you, every time. Practice spotting the tell-tale catapult movement just prior to the attack. Then duck.

The Flying Boot Maneuver: Sitting down and gently pulling off muddy boots takes up valuable time in a five-year-old's day. The preferred method is to stand on one foot, grasp the antique hall table with a sticky hand, and shake the other foot until the boot is dislodged and sent flying into your new suede jacket, your head, or the sleeping infant in your arms. Duct taping boots to your child's pants is a reasonable preventative measure to avoid strenuous ducking and dodging.

The Vomitron: Young children like to be on the move when throwing up -- projectile or otherwise. In your attempt to save the area rug you may find yourself right in the line of fire. Some fancy footwork may be required to herd the puking child to the nearest toilet bowl while simultaneously warding off bodily fluids.

Excerpted from "Journey to the Darkside: Supermom Goes Home", Kathy Buckworth, Key Porter Books, 2007.

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