Gym daycare magic – A mom’s point of view

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When you think of stay-at-home parents do you think of gym daycare? No?!? Well, you should! Perhaps you think of a sweet little mom who has endless snacks and activities for her impossibly well-rounded, well-behaved kids? Or is it a slightly out-of-shape dad?

Well I’m here to tell you those images are all crap. We are both stay at home parents and life isn’t all unicorns and angels.

A few weeks ago Leif wrote about our secret weapon: the magic of gym daycare. But I don’t think he gets half of it, so I decided to add a little addendum.

First of all, when I tell people about this little gem, I get one of two responses: I can’t afford it or I don’t care for the gym. Those excuses are stupid, and I won’t stand for them.

Hear me out and I’ll show you how gym daycare:

  • Is affordable
  • Makes you become a better parent
  • Lets you be a better you

I can’t afford daycare or the gym, so forget gym daycare

I know, I know. Kids are expensive; Life changes with kids; It’s not about YOU anymore. And yes you can cue all the other cliches meant to trigger parent guilt.

You’re supposed to want to spend every second with your little dictators. Besides, aren’t we supposed to be bootstrapping it to reach FIRE? Isn’t gym daycare the worst of both worlds?

Well, for affordability. If your gym has daycare, it may be cheaper than you think. Mine is only about $30 per month, and some are even cheaper than that. You can afford that!

The gym membership is the obvious financial burden, but remember what we’ve said about saving money. Some expenses are just worth it, and you can make cuts elsewhere. Like trying to buy baby things used. They grow out everything instantly anyways. Might as well make some cuts there…that’s what I call planning!

Kids grow out of clothes so don’t spend money on them! Planning! (source)

By the way, if you’re worried about the “quality” of daycare you’ll be getting for this low price, my own experience has been pretty good.

They usually hire people who actually like kids. I can’t even always say that about myself.

Besides, you’re on the premises and can always come by to check in if you’re paranoid.

I should spend the time with my kids not dump them somewhere

It’s true you should be treasuring every second you can possibly take with your little ones.

BUT…

It’s hard to treasure a moment when every part of your body brain is screaming at you to lay down for 30 minutes and mentally check out. I don’t think anyone can be an amazing parent 24/7, so I would prefer my non-amazing time to be away from my babies. You need to recover some energy so that I can give it back to them, right?

Seriously there are only so many times I can sing the baby shark song every day before my brain shuts down.

Baby shark is great…but I can only take so much

And there are only so many baby meltdowns I can take before I want to have my own. Breaks are good. That’s why so many world cultures have a family baby support system of some kind.

One-on-one parenting 24/7 does not lead to a happy childhood.

It leads to drinking.

I don’t care for the gym, so why go to a gym daycare?

If you’re not a regular gym-goer, perhaps it’s time for a mindset shift. What can be more motivating to take care of your health and your body than knowing that tiny humans are looking up to you (and expecting you to pick them up too).

Even if you don’t want to be a fitness role model for them, at least get fit enough that your kids don’t cause you to injure yourself.

If you’ve never really cared about fitness that’s okay too. Going to the gym and taking advantage of the gym daycare has re-introduced me to certain freedoms that I took for granted pre-kids. Namely:

  • The freedom to space out
  • The ability to shower well
  • The energy for spontaneity.

At this point, being super fit is just a bonus. I treat my gym days like a day at the spa, and honestly. I feel pretty awesome about it. 🙂

My gym daycare gives me the freedom to space out

I know this sounds frivolous, but man do I miss that freedom to just get lost in my thoughts. Kids are certainly fun and cute, but they require your full undivided attention at all times or else! They will start climbing up the bookshelf, blindly looking for knives in your drawers, “rearranging” your tupperware drawer, or just getting ticked off.

Seriously, parents of the world, when could you last just space out during the day? (image)

Being fully present with my kids is my most important contribution to their growth and yet for me it is the most difficult one.

I craved those hidden moments where I could just replay Seinfeld clips in my own brain or be inspired with some savvy financial strategy without being rudely interrupted by a toppling tower of snack jars.

Those two hours alone at the gym gave me exactly what I needed. Ninety minutes pumping iron. Fifteen minutes in the sauna. Zero brain power.

Your brain needs the space to check out in order to be creative and come up with great ideas. Better let it happen at the gym than during baby bathtime.

Don’t make me into an angry hippo! You’ll regret it!

Gym daycare gives me the ability to shower well

Want to meet an angry-angry hippo? Talk to me when I need a shower. A decent shower makes me feel like a real-life human. A rushed shower, where I can’t even let my conditioner set in, makes me feel like a snippy chihuahua. No shower? Beware this stinky hippo’s wrath.

Now don’t get me wrong, any mom can generally find a few minutes for basic hygiene, but we’re talking about not having to listen for the baby’s I’m-done-napping cries through that glorious sound of running water or screaming that is my blowdryer.

Trust me, this is luxury for new moms.

Showering at the gym, seriously feels like this every time.

Gym daycare gives me the energy for spontaneity

When you’re a new parent, your whole life revolves around being a new parent. Go figure! Pretty soon you even start sounding like that pessimistic neighbor: ‘Say goodbye to having fun when you have kids’.

WRONG!

Sure, life is different with kids, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have your own fun. And here’s how the gym daycare helped me:  

  1. During my regular workouts, I would build up enough energy to drag my babies along for some misadventures. Be it a hike or cocktails with friends, I just felt like I could do it. Life with babies is actually pretty fun when you aren’t an angry hippo.
  2. Leif and I gave each other time off during the week by going to the gym with the kids while the other one stays home. Usually I used that time to get caught up on my side-hustle business, but sometimes I would just do the things that non-parents do. Like endless Reddit spirals about why vegan lard is better for birthday cupcakes. You know. Making time for the important things.
  3. When my hair looks good I want to get out into the world not hide inside my house. Nothing stops me from getting up to no good when I already look amazing.
Seriously why would I not want to go out once I’m looking good?!?

Turns out that being a stay-at-home parent doesn’t have to mean being home all the time. Or being nothing but a parent all the time. Taking a two-hour break a few times a week can go a long way in keeping you feeling like a fun human.

Honestly, I would pay any amount of money for these freedoms, but if I can get it for thirty bucks a month all while staying fit and awesome, I think that’s money well spent.

TL;DR

  • Want to keep your sanity on the cheap while being a stay-at-home parent?
  • Gym daycare could be your secret weapon.
  • Its affordable
  • Makes you a better parent
  • Makes you better in general
  • Now you can have daycare, sanity and not break the bank.

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