Mr. Full-Time Dad, How Do You Stay in Such Great Shape?
Dear Mr. Full-Time Dad,
I’ve been following you for quite some time now, even before you became a dad. I’m struck by how much better you look now that you’re a dad than you did before. I don’t get it. What’s your secret? How do you stay in such great shape?
Great question, Lisa. And thanks for reading. I’ve got a simple, three-part answer that should clear things up for you. As Mr. Full-Time Dad, I have three main responsibilities: childcare, household upkeep and saving money any way I can. Luckily, all three stay-at-home dad job duties lend themselves to staying in shape. Let me explain…
Taking the plunge into stay-at-home parenthood means your household income gets cut in half, so finding ways to save money becomes a necessary hobby. When summer arrived, I decided to limit my time behind the wheel as much as possible to save money on gas and force myself to make use of my bike and Macklin’s pull-behind baby buggy we bought off Craigslist (never buy new, kids).
Not only do I avoid the gas pump for weeks, if not months, biking and walking has done wonders for my legs. The tone… the definition… they’re nearing breathtaking status. Without the convenience of a car, I’m also forced to put a lot more effort into planning out my errands and #dadventures, which gives the old brain a bit of a workout, too.
Giving up the car burns calories and checks off two out of my three stay-at-home dad duties. It saves a bunch of money and opens up a lot of opportunity for daily #dadventures with Macklin as we’re out prowling the streets in our bike helmets. What it doesn’t do is keep the house clean. For that, I dance.
Most people hate vacuuming. Why? My guess is they’re doing it wrong… they’re old lady vacuuming instead of dance vacuuming, which is super cool and stupidly fun. It’s also a great way to burn a few extra calories as you free your house of pet hair, dust bunnies and, in my case, tiny bits of food your child has flung willy nilly throughout your house. For me, dance vacuuming—just like any other form of exercise—is also a stress reliever. One day, I dance vacuumed for nearly two hours after my wife informed me she got a $175 speeding ticket in the mail from the great state of Iowa… in my name (camera busted her driving, but our car was licensed in my name). I was livid, but the house was spotless.
More than just sneaky exercise and stress relief, dance vacuuming is a wonderful excuse to crank up your stereo and jam. It’s fun as hell. (Remember, I’ve given up driving, which means I’ve lost my usual 30 minutes of daily dance commuting.) The only tricky thing about dance vacuuming is making sure Macklin isn’t eating dog food or wedging himself behind the couch as the music stifles his cries for help. On account of the loud music, it’s unlikely you’ll get any dance vacuuming done during nap time, so my advice is to perfect your signature “checkin’ on the baby” dance move that can be incorporated into your flow.
Lately, I’ve been experimenting with dance lawn mowing, but only behind the privacy of my fenced-in backyard. I’m nowhere close to ready for The Big Show yet. I’ll have an audience the minute I debut out on the boulevard, and my neighbors are ruthless when it comes to lawn care. If I sacrifice straight lines for the sake of keeping the rhythm, I’ll never live it down no matter how good I look out on the dancelawn.
Have a Baby (Or Borrow One 3-5 Times a Week)
Before I became a dad, my average daily lifting routine featured a few cups of coffee, maybe a notepad if I had a meeting that day, and occasionally my dog, Lucy. Together, these maybe added up to 41 total pounds of “things” I had to pick up at least once a day… as in, I lifted a total of 41 pounds yesterday, once.
Today, my son weighs 24.9 pounds. I pick him up at least 25 times a day out of necessity… and another 25 out of the utter randomness that is parental love. The kid loves being picked up, flown through the air, swooped, dipped and twirled, and sometimes it’s the only way to pass the time between crying, pooping, sleeping and eating. So, that’s approximately 50 times a day I squat down and dead lift and/or clean-and-jerk a 25-pound babybell.
What I’m trying to say is that I never need to lift. Ever. Macklin is my full-body workout. Having a baby provides all the benefits of a gym membership without the monthly expense. For example, I’m constantly sore. I don’t remember the last time I woke up, stood up straight and didn’t… wait, I don’t even remember what it’s like to stand up straight. Every morning feels like the day after you do your first ab workout in years. According to my wife, it’s such a regular scene at my house that Macklin, our chubby, wobbly ten-month-old, has already started to mimic my morning stretching ritual.
Childbirth is a miracle… a miracle of fitness! Forget fad diets or that 10-DVD fitness porn set you wouldn’t even unwrap. Just have a kid and go ahead and raise it. Child-rearing is the exact opposite of saving money or keeping the house clean, but it will be the one exercise program you will never (be able to) quit.