Finding The Motivation To Exercise As a Mom With Young Kids

Life with young kids is busy. Like, this might be the first time I’ve sat down in 4 days kind of  busy. Between work and daycare and diapers and meal prep and nursing and play dates and cleaning – so much cleaning- I’m usually to the point of sheer exhaustion by 10 a.m. On a good day. Finding the time and motivation to exercise is definitely a challenge.

The good news is that self care is all the rage right now, especially in motherhood land. Scrolling through social media always reminds me to make self care a priority, and when I do, it is in the form of exercise. I know that getting a good workout will hep me feel more energized for these hectic days. The only problem I run into is finding the motivation to start when I feel like I’m running on empty. Which is basically always. So today I though I’d share a few tricks I’ve discovered to motivate myself to get moving:

1. Whenever the weather is decent, I take a daily walk/run with the kids. I load them up in the double jogging stroller with some snacks, toys, and water and they are good for at least half an hour. Even if my intention is only to walk, I always put on running shoes and clothes “just in case.” The thing is, once I get outside and moving, I almost always end up running. Once I start running, I almost always end up going longer than the original route I expected. My momentum tends to build as I go, and since I know this about myself, I tell myself “I’ll just walk today” to get myself out of the house, knowing full well it will turn into a good workout.

2. When I’m up in the morning before the kids, my first instinct is to lie in bed and scroll through Instagram. I follow a lot of fitness accounts for workout ideas, and I find that after watching a few exercise videos, I’m more likely to want to get up and get a workout in myself before the little rascals wake up. These are some of my favorite go-to gals for workout ideas/inspiration: https://paleomg.com/category/weekly-workouts/https://www.kaylaitsines.com/blogs/exerciseshttps://www.instagram.com/madeline_moves/?hl=enhttps://www.instagram.com/blondeponytail/.

3. We sign up for family fun runs. Any 5K that gives us an excuse to wear some wacky costumes or run through mountains of bubbles usually ends up on our calendar. Signing up for these races keeps my husband and I motivated get out on some practice runs beforehand. Pushing a 80 pounds of double jogging stroller while simultaneously opening juice boxes requires some training, you know.

4. Whenever I have a window of time to myself, I try to commit it to exercise. Its temping to do the dishes or finally put away that laundry I folded a week ago, but those things don’t improve my health and energy. I’ve made this my little rule – get in at least 10 minutes of core workout or jump rope or whatever is easy/convenient, then tackle my to-do list with whatever time I have left. Again, once I’m moving, that 10 minutes usually turns into a full blown sweat session.

5 Reasons Why We Said Yes to Ear Tubes for Our Baby

“He’s got an ear infection” is a phrase I heard from our pediatrician more times than I like to count. By Emmett’s 5th ear infection at the age of 9 months, we were referred to an ENT to discuss getting ear tubes for our baby boy. The infections were miserable, but the thought of putting our baby through surgery was also terrifying. So, we deiced to try everything else we could think of first.

We went to a naturopath who suggested I cut dairy out my diet, so I did. We tried garlic oil and ginger and homeopathic drops and breastmilk in his ears. He had daily doses of elderberry syrup and chiropractic care and antibiotics and so on and so on. Yet he just kept getting one ear infection after the next. Poor guy always seemed to be sick.

Getting ear tubes for our baby was our last resort, yet not one we approached without careful consideration of the risks and benefits. Here are the reasons we decided to go for the tubes:

  1. Hearing loss. On our initial ENT consultation appointment, we discovered that Emmett had moderate hearing loss. This was the result of fluid buildup in the middle ear that was never able to drain properly (hence the recurrent infections). It broke my heart to see my baby not responding to sounds that I was sure he could hear during that hearing test.
  2. Speech delay. In my PT practice, I see so many children with speech delays resulting from hearing loss. Fluid accumulation in the middle ear muffles sounds and makes it difficult for babies to pick up language skills. Although the research suggests that there is no difference in long term speech/language outcomes between kids who get tubes and kids who don’t, I didn’t like the idea of my baby being limited by hearing loss during a critical period of brain development in his life.
  3. Balance/vestibular problems. Again, this is an issue of fluid in the middle ear. I’d often notice my poor baby fall flat on his face while he was crawling, even after he’d been crawling for several months. At 12 months when he still hadn’t taken any independent steps, I had a hunch that his ear issue was the culprit. So I did my pediatric PT thing and looked to the research. What I found was that balance disturbances in children with chronic ear infections were almost always solved when they received ear tubes (96% of children had improvements in balance in this study).
  4. Pain. Ear infections hurt. Badly. I guess I had forgotten just how badly until our 4 year-old got one and was screaming in pain. Emmett couldn’t tell us how much pain he was in, but he was constantly fussy and poking his little fingers into his ears.
  5. Too many antibiotics. Ear tube surgery has risks, but so do antibiotics. Our baby was prescribed so many rounds of so many different antibiotics that I really became concerned about his gut flora. There is only so much that probiotics can replace.

The hardest part of the procedure was not being able to nurse baby or give him any food for 4 hours prior to the surgery. He was fussy and hungry for those hours leading up to it, so it was quite a relief when the nurse finally took him back to the OR.

Waiting to go in for ear tube surgery

The surgery itself was very quick – less than 10 minutes in duration. He was groggy for the remainder of that day but didn’t seem to be in any pain. By day 2, my baby was back to his normal happy self. After one week, guess who started suddenly standing up and taking steps on his own.

We have absolutely no regrets about getting ear tubes for baby. In fact, we wish we would have done it sooner. He is all of a sudden noticing sounds like dogs barking and airplanes flying overhead. He is imitating our words now and babbling like crazy. Most importantly, he is happy and no longer in pain from his ears.

Powdered Peanut Butter and A Core + Agility Workout

First of all – have I been living under a rock? Where has powdered peanut butter been all my life? Why have my friends not told me about this secret sauce?

Since this recent discovery, a lot of my foods have been peanut butter flavored. I’ve tried it in smoothies, in pancake batter, and in oatmeal. Mixed it into my vanilla ice cream and into my yogurt. I’ve dipped my banana right into it (texture – not awesome, taste – amazing).

The internet has told me good and bad things about powdered peanut butter from a nutrition standpoint. The good: you get the peanut butter taste with significantly less fat and calories. The bad: it has some added sugar and salt, and you miss out on the heart-healthy fats of the real stuff. I by no means use this as a replacement for any type of nut butter, but it has added both deliciousness and a source of non-animal protein to my world and for that I love it.

On the topic of protein, the powdered peanut butter was my post-workout fuel friend after a killer core and agility workout this week. Emmett was napping, Avery was at preschool, so I had some time to do a solo workout and it was a gooooood one – one worth sharing. I adapted a workout from a burn boot camp workout on Julie’s blog to make it equipment-free. I also changed up some of the core exercises to be more diastasis-recti friendly. It took me about 35 very sweaty minutes to complete two rounds.

Working Out With Baby

Let me start this post by being real – I love working out by myself. It’s my favorite kind of “me time.” Some tunes, some weights, and 30 minutes all to myself is my kind of bliss.

Enter motherhood – where alone time is a thing of the past. There are some days when I manage to pull myself out of bed before both kids to get a workout in, but honestly those days are rare. My 1 year-old is still waking up frequently at night, and mama needs all the sleep she can get. But mama also needs her workouts.

Back when Avery was a toddler, I wrote this blog post about exercising with her in the mix. https://www.bettysbalance.com/1/post/2017/06/toddler-friendly-workout.html. She is more independent now and will either play on her own or exercise with me when I workout. Emmett, on the other hand, needs quite a bit of attention at this phase. One of the ways I exercise with him is by doing circuit workouts that incorporate him into as many exercises as possible. Here are some examples…

Baby weight squats
Baby weight stationary lunges
Baby overhead press
Baby kiss planks, push-ups, or up-down planks
Core work on foam roller with baby
Baby weight glute bridges (I also do these with feet on the floor)

During these circuit workouts, I can usually put baby down for a minute or two while I bust out some burpees or tuck jumps, etc. He really enjoys working out with me this way and is typically happy for the full 30 minutes.

Another way I get my workout in with both kids is the good ol’ double stroller. I can jog a little faster than snail’s pace pushing that 80 pound beast, but let me tell you – it’s most definitely a workout.

Then there are mornings when Avery is at preschool and I jog with baby in a single stroller and I feel like superwoman.

Hiking with baby in the Ergo is another way I enjoy getting exercise with him. If I want to get a really good workout (aka if Avery doesn’t feel like hiking), I wear Avery on my back and Emmett on my front. Hips and core are sore for days.

I can’t leave out my absolute favorite kind of mommy exercise – dancing with the kids. We have dance parties on most days at our house. It isn’t strenuous or muscle-building or endurance-improving, but it gets our heart rates up and its fun bonding time. So fun, in fact, that only blurry photos exist to document it – so please excuse the poor quality photo below.

Baby Boy’s First Birthday Photos

My little boy is ONE! A first birthday is a big deal in our family. It’s a celebration of our little guy’s first trip around the sun, a transition from infancy to toddlerhood, and a perfectly good occasion to convince my husband that we need professional baby photos taken (yes, again).

One of my girlfriends – from middle school! – who knows a thing or two about photography took Emmett’s first birthday photos. Our older kiddos are about the same age, so we went over to her house for a playdate/ laid-back photography session. This mama extraordinaire had not only set up a play dough station to keep the older kids busy, but she had bought a bunch of spring flowers to liven up the photo shoot. And this is why we are still friends – since middle school.

Is there anything sweeter than a baby in overalls?? https://www.janieandjack.com

As you can imagine, it takes a little luck and a lot of patience get little ones to hold a pose, smile, and simultaneously not knock over surrounding photo props. How did we do it? Trick #1 – my friend’s little Yorkshire terrier. Emmett was absolutely smitten by the little dog, and would giggle every time he saw it. We’d place Emmett right where we wanted him for the photo, bring out the dog, and voila.


Trick #2 – a lot of un-posed, spontaneous photos. These pictures turned out to be some of my favorites. We stripped Emmett down to his diaper and turned him loose while my girlfriend clicked away with her camera. I love that these photos not only captured his true personality, but also those baby rolls and little tootsies that I’ve spent so much time kissing over the past year.

Trick #3 – we took our time and had fun. This was a huge advantage of doing the photos with a friend rather than at a studio where our time would have been limited. Soil was spilled, props were thrown about, and chaos reigned supreme – but it truly was a blast.

We had to wrangle this in…
..to achieve this.

Last, but certainly not least, I have to mention how much I appreciate that my girlfriend included Avery in this photo shoot without me even asking. Not just posed alongside Emmett, but with her own outfit changes and props and solo photos. They turned out just as wonderful.

Separation Anxiety x2

Baby Emmett is 11 months old and he’s currently in the “momma don’t leave me!!” phase. Having gone through separation anxiety when Avery was a baby, I was expecting this and mentally prepared for it. I literally can’t do anything without him right by my side. It gives me all the feels and all the gray hairs at the same time.

He’s with me when I work out, fueling me with yogurt melts through my belly button.
He’s by my side when I do the dishes – usually trying to crawl into the dishwasher.
He makes sure I’m not lonely when I dry my hair.
He helps me take out the pots I need when I cook.

What I didn’t expect, is that my 4 year-old would go through a separation anxiety phase right along with the baby. Avery is mirroring his need to be close to me at all times, which is making me quite grateful these days that I have exactly enough hands for the number of littles I have.

Workouts are double the fun now.
Avery used to walk on her own when we hiked, but now wants to be carried in her “big kid pack” since Emmett gets to ride in the Ergo. Tandem baby/preschooler-wearing for the win!
“Mommy, can you snuggle me while I color?”

This double separation anxiety thing has definitely got my hands full, but truly in the best way. My to-lists have flown out the window and I spend my days trying to creatively incorporate both kids into the daily tasks that I have to do (work, errands, cooking, workouts, laundry, etc.). It’s the ultimately balancing act, and if any of you mommas have some tips or success stories please share!

January Top Ten

Why is it that every year seems to pass more quickly than the last? I’m over here still trying to wrap my head around the fact that it’s 2019 and we are already 1/12 of the way done with it. January seemed to fly by in a flash, but the good news is this – a look through the pictures on my phone made me realize that January in fact was pretty long and full. I tend to forget just how much can happen in a month. So much in fact that it was too much to write about. So, I picked the top ten happenings I wanted to remember from this past January. Here they are:

1. We spent New Year’s at a beach house with family. It was quiet and sunny and totally relaxing. I couldn’t think of a better way to ring in the new year with two littles in tow.


2. Emmett got his first haircut, and immediately looked like he was in college.

3. I brought Avery into my work for her annual horse ride. She trotted with the horse for the first time and did amazing.

4. Both kids started swimming lessons. Brandon and I take turns taking each kid to their lesson, and it’s been wonderful to have some one-on-one time with both Avery and Emmett.

5. We ventured up to Mt Hood with both kids for the first time to play in the snow. Avery rocked her first try at snowboarding. Emmett was not a fan of the cold but did love to eat the snow.

6. Brandon and I went on a date night! This makes the top ten because it’s quite rare. We did some indoor bouldering, had fancy cake, and SLEPT. Amazing.

7. We had some unseasonably warm weather and spent a lot of time outdoors. Daily walks, park outings, even popsicles.

8. I tried my hand at fondant for the first time to make Avery’s birthday cake. She wanted a Rapunzel theme – this is what I came up with:

9. Avery got a lot of board games for her birthday, and we spent a LOT of time playing them. I’m not joking when I say that one of the reasons I was so excited to have kids was to be able to play board games with them.

10. My mom found a sketch pad my brother drew lots of pictures in when he was in elementary school. This had to make the list, simply because of this gem:

And there you have it! If you’re feeling like this year is passing you by quickly, I seriously recommend taking a trip down memory lane to marvel at all the things that actually happened so far this year. I don’t usually take photos of the bad happenings, so looking through my camera roll was a good way to remember and focus on the happy times. Hoping this will be a good reminder for me to slow down and take it all in through the rest of this year.

2nd Baby’s 1st Christmas

Second babies often seem to get the short end of the stick. Hand-me-down clothes, a baby “sprinkle” instead of a shower, much less one-on-one attention, and so forth. I, personally, often feel guilty for not giving baby Emmett nearly as much attention as Avery got as a baby, but it’s just darn impossible. So I try to compensate in other ways. This Christmas season, for instance, I’ve made every effort to make baby’s first Christmas no less special just because we are going through it a second time around. In fact, it has felt even more special this time around because we have a big sister to join in the festivities.

We did everything for Emmett that we did for Avery’s first Christmas, and then some. I made him a baby footprint ornament to match his sister’s (although I didn’t remember his birth weight exactly so I left that part out – #momfail). I took 746 pictures of him playing with Christmas lights. We put him on Santa’s lap for the first time. And he didn’t cry! #momwin


I have to admit, though, that my favorite part of second baby’s first Christmas has been sharing it with his 3 year-old sister. Poor dude will just never know life outside of sharing. But, who can deny the cuteness factor of two littles hogging your bed in their matching Christmas jammies, amiright??

I can always find these two under/around the Christmas tree.
Rudolph and Comet joining me for an afternoon run. Although they missed the memo about the whole pulling the sleigh thing.
Waiting at the airport for our holiday flight to Denver

Speaking of matching Christmas jammies, we celebrated our first Christmas as a family of four by splurging on these…

Merry Christmas everyone! XO

At Home With Two Sick Littles

The season of sore throats and runny noses is upon us, and this particular year I’ve taken more sick days from work than ever before. The reason is twofold. (1) Before I became a peds therapist, I rarely called in sick to work for a common cold. I just did my best to keep my hands clean and avoid close contact with everyone. These days are different. I work with medically fragile children and can’t afford the risk of passing along a virus to them. (2) I have two babies now, which means double the staying at home with sick little ones.

I truly don’t like taking sick days. I hate the feeling of letting my patients down when I don’t show up for them. The silver lining in all of it, though, is that I’ve gotten to spend a lot more time with my littles this season. It’s been a time of suctioning snot and comforting cries and being up through the night, but its also been a time of extra snuggles and special treats and finding creative ways to keep both babies happy. Here is how we’ve stayed afloat this past month:

We cuddled a lot. My germophobia goes flying out the window when my babies are sick. Bring on the sweaty snuggles and snotty kisses. All. Day. Long.

We turned a large cardboard box into a time machine and traveled back into the land of the dinosaurs (AKA baby wearing my old Warrior Dash hat).

I busted out some special activities reserved only for desperate times. We put together our gingerbread turkey kit (Trader Joe’s find!), we played with daddy’s guitar, and we had a car picnic at the park. We never actually got out of the car, but it was a nice change of scenery.

Speaking of change of scenery, two sick kids necessitates us being home a lot more than we usually are and cabin fever is quick to set in. To battle this, I bundled the kids up and took them on several stroller walks around the neighborhood. Some fresh air always makes me feel better when I’m battling a cold.

Lastly, there were a lot of naps. Despite using humidifiers and essential oils and chest rub, neither of my babes sleep well at night when they’re sick. Instead, they crash during the day when they are on their absolute last ounce of ability to fight sleep. Like in the car, and in my dad’s arms at the doctor’s office.

So grateful for supportive parents throughout all this!

Cheers to good health through the remainder of this winter!

First Flight Without Breastfeeding Baby

Hello from the flip side! In case you missed it, my last post was all about baby’s first flight and how glad I was that I didn’t leave him for a weekend trip and potentially screw up breastfeeding. Whelp, here I am a few weeks later to tell you about how I chose to leave baby behind on our latest weekend trip to Arizona.


Here’s why I chose a different route this time around.

  1. I had put in SO. MUCH. WORK. to pump enough milk for what was supposed to be a weekend away from baby on our last trip. Since baby ended up coming with us, I still had all that extra frozen milk. Can’t let that liquid gold go to waste.
  2. We needed some husband-wife time. Badly.
  3. We had free, reliable babysitting (my parents).
  4. Baby had no qualms about taking a bottle.
  5. I talked to every mom friend I had, and they all reassured me that my milk supply shouldn’t suffer if I just kept to a strict pumping schedule.
  6. I stopped Googling “what happens if you leave your breastfeeding baby for a weekend”

Don’t get me wrong, I was still nervous about the decision. I had dreams about everything from baby hating me when we got home to our plane crashing and our kids growing up parentless. Luckily, my nerves calmed down once we arrived here:

Beautiful Sedona, AZ

It was weird at first. No car seats to lug around, no chasing kids around the airport, no crying from the back of the rental car, no giant bag of snacks/spare clothes/diapers/wipes/end-of-the-world-readiness-kit. We almost didn’t know what to do with ourselves. Almost.

Our private balcony with hot tub

We lounged poolside, went out for dinner, enjoyed some live music at a bar, shopped, attended the wedding, and RELAXED. Most importantly, we re-connected. As parents of two very young children, we rarely have a chance to do that. Day-to-day life is a tag-team effort and we mostly just see each other in passing. We had no idea just how much we needed this time together.

To be totally transparent, the only hard part was the pumping part. I stuck to a very strict 3 hour pumping schedule. No matter where we were, I’d stop to spend 20 minutes pumping every 3 hours. Sometimes that meant in the car, sometimes in a restaurant bathroom, and sometimes in the luxury of our fancy hotel room. I had to always carry ice with me to store the milk until we got back to a refrigerator.

Thank you, airport McDonald’s, for the lovely travel cooler.

I’m happy to report that it all turned out to be worth it in the end. My milk supply didn’t seem affected. Baby was more eager to nurse than ever. Brandon and I were rejuvenated in our relationship. And we were both rested for the first time in a looooong time. Now we’re ready for baby number 3! (TOTALLY kidding)