I know that as a parent, it’s hard enough most days to meet the needs of everyone else, let alone worry about what you need or want. Exercise is important for everybody, especially those of us who spend our days taking care of energetic kids. By meeting daily exercise guidelines, you will find that you have more energy, sleep better at night, feel better overall, and hey, you may even lose some of that baby weight! We all know that getting in a regular workout is nearly impossible with kids, unless you count chasing them down to change their diaper or wipe their nose, or the endless cleaning up of their messes. There are a few sneaky ways to work in a little extra exercise, and feel better while doing it.
- Schedule a Time
Find a time that you have someone else to look after the kids. It could be leaving them with your significant other early in the morning while their asleep or after they go to bed at night, while they are at their once a week dance, art, karate class or playdate, or while they’re at school. Whenever it may be, you’ll be more likely to stick to it if it’s in your schedule. Plan a couple of specific days and times during the week, and stick to them. Write them down in your planner, or add them to your calendar on your phone. If you don’t have anything to occupy your kids, or a significant other who can stay with them, try trading with another Mom. You take turns watching each other’s kids while the other goes to the gym, for a run, etc. You will most likely make a new friend for both you and your kid, and get your workout time in at the same time.
- Involve the Whole Family
Getting in those workouts is much easier if you can just take your kids and spouse with you. Invest in a baby bike trailer, jogging stroller, hiking baby carrier, or whatever equipment you may need, and get out there. You can often find cheaper used items at Thrift stores and online, and it will be worth the investment. Go on family hikes, bike rides or walks. To keep older kids busy on hikes and walks, give them a list of items to find; such as interesting leaves, sticks, rocks, animals, etc. You can get in some much-needed family time and workout at the same time. Plus, getting your kids active early in life will pay off in the long run. Healthy, active kids turn into healthy, active adults.
- Make it Fun
Find something you enjoy doing, whether it be running, walking, hiking, biking, swimming, yoga, or a fitness class. You will be more motivated if it’s something you enjoy. Working out is also more enjoyable if you are doing something other than working out, like listening to your favorite music, audio book, or comedian. You can even catch up on your favorite TV shows while running on a treadmill or elliptical. This will make your workouts fun, take your mind off what you’re doing, and make time go by faster.
- Enlist a Buddy
Find a friend (or two) to exercise with you. Walks in the mornings, hikes, bike rides and fitness classes are all much more enjoyable with a friend. Use this time to catch up and plan future outings. You can motivate each other, and knowing there’s someone waiting for you will make you less likely to blow off your workout. Tell each other your fitness goals, and hold each other accountable. Having to report back to someone will mean you’re less likely to stray.
- Little Things
You don’t have to have super-sweaty hour-long workout sessions to make a difference. Doing little things and adopting new routines can go a long way toward meeting your exercise goals. Park farther away when you run your errands, always take the stairs instead of the elevator (bonus points if you carry your toddler up those stairs), play with your kids instead of sitting on the playground, and when you have a spare minute, use it to walk, go up some stairs, or do some yoga poses.
- Reward Yourself
Kids aren’t the only ones who need rewards for a job well done. When you meet your weekly exercise goals, reward yourself. Indulge in that treat, have the glass of wine, buy the pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing, or binge-watch your favorite TV show. On the contrary, if you find yourself indulging a little too often, make it a goal not to indulge unless your goals are met. Looking forward to that reward can be super motivating.