Here’s the thing: having kids is incredibly inconvenient. Working out with kids is even more inconvenient. If you’ve got kids, small ones especially, you know exactly what I mean.
Oh sure, motherhood is rewarding and magical and you’ve never loved any creature(s) with the ability to disrupt your life so entirely as you do those dang kids. But those little darlings are also a big part of the reason you don’t sleep, or own anything that isn’t 100% machine washable, or even know what the inside of a McDonald’s Play Land looks like. And then there’s that whole “house a growing human in your body for 9 months, birth it, and then wonder in hindsight WHAT THE HECK JUST HAPPENED WITH YOUR BODY AND WHERE DID ALL YOUR FREE TIME GO??”
Game changer, right?
The thing is, we’ve all got our own circus to deal with. Your body and lifestyle most definitely will not ever be the same.
You can either use your kids and your crazy life as an excuse, or you can use them as motivation to be the best you and the best mom you can be. Personally, I choose the latter.
If I know one thing as a busy working mom with three small kids of my own, it’s that my own health and fitness are just as important as all of the other things I’m managing on a daily basis. If I don’t make fitness a priority, then I’m setting myself up for failure in other areas of life including motherhood. We all know that if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.
So what’s the secret then? How do you make time for fitness when you’ve got small kids hanging around eagerly sucking up all your time, sleep, energy, and pretty much everything else?
I’ve come armed with a few tips, learned the hard way of course.
How To Workout With Kids
1. Include your kids
You’re setting an amazing example by showing your kids how important fitness really is. Invite them to join in! Those little spaghetti arms are surprisingly strong and capable of doing more than you might think. Check out this 9 year old girl who completed a 24 hour obstacle race designed for Navy Seals! Kids are tough!
2. Be prepared!
With food I mean. Fruit leathers, bananas, granola bars, animal crackers. Never leave your house without snacks. Many a time I’ve been out on a long run, miles away from my house only to have a kid start crying or whining about their general discomfort. Enter the snack stash and we can usually make it home without a major incident. A girl scout is always prepared!
3. Ain’t no shame in the trading game
I’m talking swapping kid care of course. It pays to make friends with your neighbors and fellow area moms if you’re home with your kids for the majority of the time. You need each other and that relationship is mutually beneficial. You watch my kids, I’ll watch yours. Tradesies!
4. Find a friend
Everyone needs a workout buddy. Someone to commiserate with, to motivate you, to cheer you on and support you. If you’ve got small kids it helps if that buddy happens to share the same struggles you’ve got in the kid and exercise department. Misery loves company, right? Yeah, well so does fitness, so find a buddy ASAP!
5. Make the most with what you’ve got
No time for the gym today? Sick kids at home? Find a quick HIIT circuit to do. No equipment necessary. Just get a little creative! Lunging stairs, push-ups, air squats. You can do it!
6. Get used to waking up early
This one is my own personal Everest but I’m here to testify, it can be done. My day always goes better when I get my workout in first thing, even if that means I’m running on less sleep than usual. It happens. Let’s be real: you haven’t slept since you became a mom anyway so what’s the difference? If your workout is done by the time breakfast rolls around, you’ve got more time to focus on your to-do list instead, and hey, if the stars align maybe you can even sneak in a short nap when the baby goes down. Stranger things have happened!
7. Become best friends with the gym daycare workers
If your gym has a daycare of course. This is the secret to happiness and small favors my friends. Get to know your gym daycare staff by name and they’ll be more willing to look the other way when you go over on time and pay better attention to your kids too. In the sea of small children that is gym daycare, you definitely want yours to be on the radar.
8. Be the boss
Don’t let your kids run the situation. YOU are the one in charge here and even though it’s a hassle and they’d rather be watching Curious George and eating fruit snacks, you’d rather be taking a bubble bath and having a massage so it’s kind of sixes. This is important: don’t let a grumpy toddler get in the way of greatness, and by greatness I mean a slow jog around the neighborhood.
9. Buy a good jog stroller
This one is non-negotiable. Even if you’re not much of a runner a solid jog stroller is good for all sorts of things and much easier to push just about anywhere (except the inside of a clothing store). Plus, you can use it as motivation to become a runner.
10. Find a few good workout dvd’s that you know and trust
Jillian Michaels was my best friend after all my babies were born. In that 3 month window where they were too small for the gym daycare, I fit in my 20 minutes a day with an at-home DVD. Sure, I got interrupted a lot. Working out at home is full of all sorts of distractions and challenges and can be downright impossible most of the time. But it’s fast, effective, and most importantly, you don’t have to leave your house. Mamas, we also have the perfect at-home workout program for you!
11. Get some equipment
Invest in a few good multipurpose workout items. Some resistance bands, a good jump rope, a yoga mat, and a small variety of dumbbells. Nothing fancy, just basic and effective stuff for those times when you’re stuck at home or in a hotel room.
12. Get a fitness activity monitor
It can be a FitBit or a Polar watch, or any other kind you like! Anything that tracks your movement and motivates you to keep going. These are incredibly effective and totally worth the cost. You’ll love being able to gauge just how hard you’re really working, I promise! Also, did you know that most iPhones are equipped to sync with whatever fitness monitor you have? Truth, the app is built right in.
13. Reward yourself
Make it worth it! For some people this looks like taking weekly cheat meals (I’m a believer), or setting goals and rewarding yourself with a massage or new exercise clothes when you achieve them. I talked about bribing your kids but it’s just as important to bribe yourself too.
14. Playgrounds = outdoor gym
I count park time with my kids as exercise for sure. There are so many things you can do to get your heart rate up and that includes chasing your kids around. Have you played a game of tag lately? Talk about cardio…
No, your kids aren’t always going to be happy that you’re exercising, and yes, it’s incredibly frustrating at times. Babies will cry, toddlers will wreck things, older kids will do whatever it is that older kids do (play Minecraft?). Nobody is going to be deeply emotionally scarred from the 30 minutes a day you take to exercise, and you’ll certainly all be better off for it.
Take it as a personal challenge to hold that plank even when your toddler is using you as a jungle gym. Even if you only make it around the block a few times that day, put your jog stroller to use.
The mom life isn’t one of convenience. It’s never going to be “the right time” to work out, especially when small children are involved. Accept it, move on, and get going.
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