I have been wanting to write about this topic for a long time. But I needed your help to do it! So I asked as many moms and dads as I could to tell me how they have fit fitness into their busy and overextended lives. The response I got was overwhelming and wonderful.
What I learned from taking this unofficial poll is that we all have to make exercise fit into our unique lives and individual circumstances. The more creative we are, the more it seems to fit. If you are a morning person, use it to your advantage. If you have a basement, make it into a makeshift gym. If your kids like to hike, become a hiking family.
Here’s a great list of examples of how parents have found time for fitness. Maybe you can see yourself or your circumstances in one of these examples, and create your own way to fit fitness into your life!
- DVD workouts: “Baby and me” workout videos, Pilates videos, yoga videos. Don’t forget the new convenience of podcasts and apps for additional fitness guidance and information.
- Family bike rides, family hikes and family walks. A family that exercises together stays healthy together.
- Biking and walking to work; build exercise into your commute
- Turn on the music in your home and DANCE; personally I found dancing while my cranky and colicky baby was in the Baby Bjorn carrier made both of us calmer, happier and healthier.
- Find a dance, yoga, or kick boxing class that fits into your schedule. Buy a multi-class card to encourage yourself to keep going even when it seems too daunting to fit a class in your schedule.
- Gym childcare. Use it if you can find it!
- Playground workouts. Exercise while the kids are playing and swinging. Resistance band exercises, push-ups, tricep dips, and sit-ups, all can be done while keeping one eye on your child.
- Stroller runs (I am laughing while writing this suggestion because my husband bought me a double jogger stroller a few years ago … I don’t know about you, but I could barely push that thing while walking, let alone jogging!) But some Herculean moms do it … I have seen them and gaped at them!
- My colleague Joshua Levitt, N.D. has written a book called Baby Barbells to help parents get back in shape exercising WITH AND USING their baby. You can buy it online!
- Connect with other moms and take walks or runs together; if you strap on a baby carrier and/or push a stroller you have taken the fitness level up a notch.
- Playing with, chasing after and lifting your children can be a workout in and of itself … as you already know.
- Use “gap time” to your advantage. Waiting for your child at a class or activity? Use that time to take a run, walk or other exercise.
- Nap-time or night-time workouts. Invest in a small home gym (if financially possible). Collect a small workout DVD library. Use the time when your kids are asleep to keep fit.
- Keep a jump rope at work or at home; 100 jumps is a great sprint workout
- Yoga poses and routines can be done anywhere, anytime.
- Early morning workouts. I cringe as I write this, as the thought of it literally causes pain to shoot through my body, but the number of moms and dads who get up at 5am or EARLIER to exercise is astounding! Time to yourself before anyone is up. You guys rock!
One mom who responded to my request for suggestions asked, “Does picking up and putting away hundreds of toys and books, vacuuming, scouring the kitchen and bathroom, making beds, and running to pick the kids up from school count?” You bet it does. This same mom pointed out that barking at her children like a drill sergeant has built great core muscle strength.
Some of my contributing moms gave some great “mental/emotional” advice too.
- “We are better moms for taking time for ourselves.”
- “We can’t be martyrs. We must make our fitness and wellness a priority.”
- “Let go of any shame or guilt; it doesn’t matter if other things don’t get done around the house.”
I will end with a quote that one of my dearest friends sent me for this blog post. She talks about how important and necessary it is to be supported by your partner and family in making health and fitness a priority. “I have a supportive partner who also values fitness and helps me meet my goals, i.e. picking up the kids from daycare so that I can take a yoga class. I think the more a family incorporates wellness into their values as a family system, the easier it is to pursue individual fitness goals.”
I dedicate this post to all the moms and dads who offered creative, helpful and vital advice. Thank you!
The Mommy Tune-up is a blog solely devoted to the busy mom’s pursuit of sanity and good health!