I would be lying if I told you it is easy to be the primary caretaker for my two girls, 4 and 1 years old, while working full time teaching 15 fitness and yoga classes a week, and serving as the Lead 200RYT Teacher Trainer and Director of Operations and TRX at Marin Power Yoga. The struggle is real, but I am truly doing everything that I love!
Here are some tips on how I try to balance it all:
1) Make Exercise A Priority
I have a hard time getting through a day without moving around, or stretching at the very least. I feel restless, easily irritable, and end up having little to no energy. I just feel bad. When I do get to exercise, I feel like I am a battery that is fully charged and ready to go! I have that much more energy (and patience) to give to my family.
Create a predictable and reasonable routine that you can follow every week. Decide how many days per week and when is the best time of the day for you to exercise. Perhaps it is at midnight like me after the kids have gone to sleep and finally all my work is done! Set your routine, and make exercise a priority for your health, so that you can take care of your family.
2) Set Aside Quality Family Time Everyday
When I get home after a long day, I dread the endless list of chores I have to do – dishes, dinner, laundry, cleaning, lunches for the next day… I could easily spend the entire evening multi-tasking between these chores and spending time with my family. Actually, up until recently, dinnertime looked like my kids eating at the table while I ran back and forth between the kitchen doing chores versus sitting down to have a meaningful meal together.
Now I am making a conscious effort to give my complete attention to my family especially during dinnertime as a priceless opportunity for conversation, as well as during bath time as a place for silliness and play, and during bedtime routines where we read stories together. Set aside quality family time everyday with no multi-tasking, no interruptions, and no distractions (that includes the phone!). It can be as short as 5 minutes one day, it can be an hour another day. When you give your full attention to your family, they will notice and appreciate it.
3) Be Fit Together
When I started teaching at Marin Power Yoga, one of the open time slots was Saturday at 9:30am. Right away I said no because I did not have childcare on the weekends. Jamie, the owner of MPY, offered to open a concurrent kids yoga class so that my daughter would not only have childcare, but would also learn yoga too. How could I say no to that?
We are role models for our kids, and when they see us leading active lifestyles, they will naturally too. Everyday, my daughters take our dog out for walks with me even though we live on a big, steep hill. I am often doing Yoga or TRX at home for my Instagram posts (@gracelingyu), and you see my kids playing around me or my older daughter trying some poses too. What else is fun? A DANCE PARTY of course! Fitness and family time are not exclusive of one another. We can be fit together.
4) Get Outside and Play
My most favorite way to balance family and fitness is to plan day trips or vacations together. I literally go through my calendar and plan out these special family excursions or else it will simply not happen.
We just went to Yosemite with my sister’s family and my parents, and all of us from ages 1 to 70, went hiking for 3 days in a row. We saw waterfalls, lakes, meadows, tunnels, and animals, and my daughter gained confidence climbing on logs, crossing bridges, and jumping off logs. She learned to get back up after falling down, and most importantly, it was the best quality time with the ones I love, doing something active and healthy for all of us. There are so many beautiful places right next door to you. With the weather getting warmer, we have no excuse not to be outside in nature.
I thank my parents for always being my role model when I was young. I distinctly remember our evening bike rides after dinner, annual family trips to go skiing, and their support enrolling me in all my favorite fitness activities. Even now, they wear pedometers and walk 10,000 steps daily. I hope one day to be a role model to my daughters, and see them living healthy, active, fit lifestyles with their future families.
“Family, nature, and health all go together.”
~ Olivia Newton-John