Moms with young children have to work hard to find time to exercise. We know that if we want to lose the baby weight (even many years after the baby’s birth!) we need to follow our diet plan and exercise on a regular basis. Our workout time has to fit within these guidelines: it needs to be relatively short and intense, it needs to be flexible for when our schedules (or our kids’ schedules) demand, and it has to be something that we can either do with our kids or our kids are occupied while we’re doing it. Busy moms who are able to do these things are able to exercise consistently each week. Here’s how they do it!
- Take your child or children out with you when you exercise outside. There are a couple of options for doing this – find a Mommy and Me class that you can bring your child to (I used Baby Boot Camp, babybootcamp.com, when my kids were young, pushing a double stroller through the workouts). A second option is to walk or run the stroller through a route on your own, with your spouse, or with a friend. You should have a couple of planned routes, one short and one long, for when you need that flexibility. In inclement weather, join the retirees and walk the mall! If you have a mall near you with a child’s playspace, you can use that as your reward for your child’s cooperation during your walking time. (Weight loss will be your reward!)
- If you’re staying indoors, there are many parent/child exercise videos, both on DVD and youtube, which have sets of exercises you and your child can do. In some cases, you are doing the moves together side by side, and in others, you are incorporating him into the movement! For simple exercises to do with your child if you’re first starting out, Baby Yoga is quite popular has many resources and routines online.
- If you have multiple children at different stages, you can use that to your advantage. Walk or drive your older one to kindergarten with your stroller in the car, then do a walking loop around the school with your younger child after drop off. When I walked my older child to school, I had two choices of a loop home with the younger one in the stroller – directly back home (total of about .75 miles), or around the neighborhood and home (total of 2 miles). It was easy to do and we were going to be walking to school either way, so why not? Or, if your children are older, use your “chauffeur” time – run around the track during your son’s baseball practice, do push-ups, squats and lunges while waiting for your daughter’s basketball practice to end.
- Make exercise time a fun time for your young child. If you’re at home on a piece of equipment or following a video, set up a spot near you that has items for your child to play with that she doesn’t usually get to use. If she can only play with the Little People castle while you’re exercising, her desire to play might help prompt you to exercise! For your older child, find an exercise that she likes to do, and do it with her – riding bikes together, taking a Zumba class. Emphasizing the togetherness over the weight loss will send your young daughter the right healthy message.
- As I’ve mentioned before, if your children are still young, find a gym that has a daycare room, and then use it! Going to a gym will help in your weight loss journey and has an added benefit as well; helping you find a community of like-minded people who think a focus on exercise is important.
You have more time, and more options for exercising, even with young children, than you think. Look at your daily schedule and decide where you can fit it in around what you are already doing. Most importantly, don’t let your children be your excuse for why you’re not taking care of yourself! – Suzie