A huge challenge many people face is trying to squeeze in exercise with children. I am sure you will agree it really is not as simple as saying ‘get up earlier’ or ‘exercise when they sleep’. This is when even the best laid plans can be flushed down the drain for any number of reasons. But, I want to show you it is possible to get some exercise in, even on your busiest day if you are empowered and have options and ideas at your fingertips.
Making It Work At Home
Wear Your Workout Clothes All Day
One common issue many of us have is finding big chunks of time for workouts. Even trying to hop on the treadmill or do a quick 30-minute online class while the kids nap can be tough.
Now sounds way too simple to work right? Wrong, the simplest pieces of advice are usually the best – remember it’s all about making it work for you.
- Get you in the mood. Just wearing your workout clothes will motivate you to work harder even if you're just doing chores around the house.
- Remind you of your goal to exercise. Wearing your workout clothes is a reminder to get some kind of exercise in, no matter how short.
- Helps curb overeating. Seriously you will think twice about popping that cookie into your mouth when wearing lycra or a nice workout T-Shirt. Try to avoid big, baggie sweats for this, they hide far too much.
Make everything you do count
Now usually when we cannot get to the gym or workout for a specified amount of time, we feel that it’s just not worth it, I mean really what’s the point of working out for 5 minutes? There’s a huge point!!! 5 minutes can do an awful lot of good especially if you find another 2-3 5 min slots in the day and you do that for 4-5 days per week, before you know it you will be clocking up a few hours every week! I say this time and time again – it’s the little things that make great changes!
- Running the stairs. Try adding an extra run on the stairs when doing chores or chasing the kids around.
- Use the supermarket as your walking track. This is great early in the mornings. I race around the supermarket isles to burn extra calories and sometimes repeat the aisles so I can keep my heart rate up. If the kids are too big for the trolley, try doing butt clenches or calf raises when stopping in the aisles.
- Go to the mall and do some serious power walking, use the stairs, go to a car park and do a lap or two of that, the kids will think it is great fun and again early in the mornings when it is quiet works best.
- Try to get some weight or resistance training in –You can try push ups with your baby on the ground or if they are bigger they can hang on to your back or try doing a lunge or squat every time you bend over to pick up toys or clothes. Your own body weight can work really very well as resistance if we know what we are doing. Especially so if you have a 3 year old hanging on yo your back – anyone who has seen me at school drop-offs now knows why I piggy back my son – nothing to do with him and everything to do with my training ha ha.
Have alternative options ready
Part of making it work when you have a hectic schedule and kids to juggle is knowing what you can do if plans change which to be frank with children, this is probably more often than not.
- Exercise with the Kids
Now, I know this one isn't easy but it can often be great fun for the kids as well as giving you a chance to get some movement in. Include them in the workout by creating rolled-up sock "dumbbells" so they can copy your exercises. Or they can count your reps for you. Take them for walks or bike rides. It is a great way to teach your kids to be active every day. Add some fun to outdoor chores by having contests to see who can rake the most leaves or sweep the sidewalk the fastest. In fact I arrived at day-care to see my 3 year old teaching the staff how to stretch – that was priceless.
Involve your Friends and Family
If you have a spouse or family around, you may be able to negotiate some exercise time during the week.
- Talk with your other half on evening duties. You can alternate weeks so one week one of you can exercise and take time for yourself while the other one looks after the kids in the evenings.
- Take advantage of family. Sounds terrible but I mean it in the nicest possible way. Don’t be afraid to ask for help once or twice a week so you can have some time for yourself. Sounds selfish but in the long run, the fitter and healthier you are, the better it is for everyone involved.
- Get to know your neighbours. Back in the old days, we all knew who everyone was and we all helped out. There’s a possibility they are in the same boat as you – you could watch each other's kids once a week while the other goes for a run or just go for a walk together once a week to keep each other motivated.
By empowering yourself with the right knowledge and knowing what you can do when your plans don’t turn out quite as you had expected helps us think about physical activity as a lifestyle rather than just a single task to check off.