Before having children, I had always been a fit and active individual, right back to being a child myself.
Cycling was a huge part of my adult life. I had represented Great Britain at the European Triathlon Championships in 2010 and 2011 and had dedicated a huge part of my social life to a fitness programme alongside my full time working responsibilities.
I’m lucky in that my Husband is also a keen cyclist, more so than me and therefore before starting a family we had enjoyed mountain biking holidays to Whistler in Canada, Cordoba in Spain, Lake Garda in Italy and Les Arcs in the Alps, France.
Before kids, we enjoyed quite a selfish lifestyle, doing whatever we wanted to do!
Baby number 1
Needless to say, it was a shock to the system when our first daughter entered our lives in 2013, bringing that active lifestyle to a stop! I’m sure lots of people carry on being active because so many people say that having children doesn’t have to change your life. Well, I take my hat off to those people who have been able to do that but for me, my life is very different to how it used to be but it has changed for the better!
To begin with, I struggled with my new identity of ‘Mummy’ and couldn’t wait to get the all clear from the Doctor at 6 weeks to return to exercise and try to feel like my old self again. I started jogging on the treadmill and used the turbo bike a few times a week. Looking back, I think I started too soon but at the time, I was still trying to get the old Anna back!
It took me a long time to adjust to being a Mummy, perhaps 9 months or so if I’m honest! It was at this point that I realised that I didn’t need as much exercise in my life anymore.
This little bundle of joy which was keeping me awake at night and challenging me like I’d never experienced before was starting to show her character, making me laugh and giggle and act like a child myself! It was lovely!
Learning from the first when there’s more
I’ve gone on to have a second daughter and I’m currently on maternity leave. This time, I’m already comfortable with my identity as ‘Mummy’. I’ve waited until 4 months to return to cycling and running this time. This time at 6 weeks after getting the all clear from the doctor I started with strengthening exercises, doing reps of lunges and squats with plank exercises to strengthen my abdomen and back. I did these for a good 2 months before doing any cardiovascular work.
I find that the light summer nights are great for going out for a jog or road ride after putting the kids to bed. On the weekend, we still make time to ride our bikes. For example this last weekend we drove to Cannock Chase and took it in turns to do laps of the MTB ride ‘Follow the Dog’ whilst the other one looked after the girls by having a walk round the Stick Man trail.
Cycling is still a part of my life, it helps me unwind, have fun and have some important ‘me’ time.
Finding my own path
As I said at the beginning of this article, our cycling lives have changed and yes this was difficult at the beginning after being so active. However once I accepted that my life had changed, I stopped trying to get out on my bike as often I had done previously. Once I did this, I found that I enjoyed my role as Mummy much more and I really savoured those bike ride opportunities that I was able to take. My life has moved on, I still love to ride my bike but it doesn’t define me. I am a Mummy first and a cyclist second.
My hope for my girls is that I can be a role model for them and show them how much fun can be had through cycling. I’m looking forward to sharing cycling experiences with them and hope that I can keep up with them as they follow their dreams.
If there is one piece of advice I could give to new Mums, it would be to stop giving yourself a hard time. Your body has just gone through a massive change and whilst you may want to return to the old you, give yourself time to adjust to this new chapter in your life. Whilst you’re busy helping your baby grow and develop, you’re also going through a huge development process yourself, creating a new and improved version of yourself. Enjoy the journey!
Anna Burns is a Solicitor at our Partner firm of Solicitors Poole Alcock who represent the needs of our Customers who have suffered an injury following a road traffic accident, and are the official legal advisors for Bikmo customers. Their Solicitors’ genuine interest in cycling allows them to bring a unique perspective to handling claims, ensuring that our Customers receive the best level of compensation alongside a great service level that is comparable with our own.