Making exercise ‘me’ time

Kicking the ball in the park or going for a run along the River, you’ll find plenty of options in Greenwich. Some are free, some have a small charge. However with lots of open space and more Riverfront than any other London Borough you will find something to suit all tastes and all pockets. Residents have access to ten Leisure Centres, The closest being The Arches on Trafalgar Road.

This Month Michelle Brooks Evans, owner of R&M Fitness shares her secrets of keeping all her balls in the air – a workout in itself and gives you the tools to factor in some me time so that you can get back on track!

Have you ever tried to juggle?  You throw one ball in the air with your right hand while passing another from your left hand to your right hand.  You then catch the ball in your left hand and pass it to your right hand and start all over again.  Even if you haven’t tried circus skills as a mother you are juggling all the time.  You might be juggling one child and running a household, and then you add another ball, yes it could be a job too.  Things may get even more complicated if you decide to add to your repertoire, and here comes baby number two, then baby number 3, and who knows how many more!

I feel like I have been in the Big Top of juggling children, work, home and friends for a while now.  Amongst my balls that I constantly try to juggle are 4 children ranging from 2 years of age up to 14 years old.  I have never had a great master plan in life, and certainly having 4 children: 14, 10, 7 and 2, a part-time job as a Administration Manager, a postnatal fitness class called Running Mummies, a husband, a house and a gold fish, well that was not all planned.  It just happened…………..

I enjoy my busy life, and when things run smoothly I think yes I can do this easily.  However if anyone tells you it is easy all the time DON’T believe him or her.  There have been times when I have been breastfeeding baby number 4 while reading a bedtime story to a toddler number 3 with the laptop next to me doing an Ocado shop. While downstairs daughter number 2 is plonking at the piano and big daughter number 1 is doing her maths homework.  Sometimes it works and there is a semblance of harmony flying around.  Sometimes it does not work, the baby is crying, the toddler wants to go to the toilet for the third time, the noise from the piano downstairs is more like improvised heavy metal than Beethoven, and daughter number one is shouting upstairs asking me complex questions about algebra that my baby brain will not calculate.

How do you juggle children of various ages and demands?  Well if you are reading this expecting to find an answer you will be disappointed!  I can only tell you what works for me and hope that some of my ideas will work for you too:

A family calendar that is hung in the kitchen.  All the children’s activities, homework, school reminders, birthday parties, clubs, play dates are put on here.  The calendar in our house is sacred and invaluable.

The “R” word – Routine.  Yes I know it is boring but having a set bedtime and bedtime routine for the children keeps me sane.  As the children range from 2 to 14 years old the routine lasts from the first bedtime at 7pm to the last of 9pm.  I even use bedtime as a way of doing homework too.  I get my 7 year old to read to the 2 year old, and the 10 year old to read a bedtime story to my 7 year old.  So multi tasking does work even at a young age.

I prepare school lunches, set out school uniform and bags the night before.  This all makes getting 4 children and myself out easier in the morning.

Share the picking up from school, after school clubs, and activities with friends.  One takes and one picks up, or you have a play date and give your friend a break and she does the same for you.  So the kids have fun and you share the hard work.

Take up any offers help from friends and family.

Give yourself treat or something to look forward to, it could be every day or once a week.  A coffee, a trip to the cinema, a drink in the pub, a run with friends.  Just an opportunity for you to have a laugh, a moan or whatever you fancy.

“Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling five balls in the air. You name them – work, family, health, friends, and spirit – and you’re keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls – family, health, friends, and spirit are made of glass. You must understand that, keep them safe, and strive for balance in your life.”

For an upto date listing of all the Group Exercise options in Greenwich, please click here.

Michelle Brooks Evans is mum to Lili, Esther Lloyd and Ezra and owner of R&M Fitness, a qualified Athletics Coach specialising in Running for Fitness and circus lovely. Contact Michelle on

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