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Before I had children, I had an awesome exercise habit. I’d leave my workout clothes right next to my bed, and as soon as I opened my eyes, I’d put them on and head to the gym in my apartment complex.
Once I had kids, though, that all changed. When I opened my eyes in the morning, it was typically because:
- someone was crying
- someone had crawled in bed with me
- someone was crying and had crawled in bed with me.
As a SAHM, feeling ‘fit’ was something that became a thing of the past for me for awhile. It doesn’t have to be for you, though. If you’re wondering how to exercise with kids underfoot, here are some ideas.
How to Exercise with Kids
GET UP EARLY
As I said above in the intro, this one is tough, especially when the kids are infants and toddlers and sleep is a distant, pleasant memory. I trained for a marathon when my kids were 4 and 2, though, and had to get creative. I would sometimes get in a run before 6 a.m. while Daddy took care of any emergencies that popped up at home.
Now that they are older and can be reasoned with in the morning, I’ve added my exercise time back into my morning routine. Most mornings, my kids will play together or pour a bowl of cereal for themselves and wait until I’m done. (And they’re only 5 and 7–hang in there, moms of littles! Better days are coming!)
JOIN A MOM FITNESS GROUP
Because loads of moms with kids at home want to exercise, but can’t seem to fit it in, tons of fitness organizations have sprung up where mommies can bring their kiddos along. These will not only help you stay in shape, but will have the added benefit of allowing you to work out with friends.
Fit4Mom is a company that offers workouts for moms with strollers and has locations all over the U.S. In my area, there are also local companies/gyms that offer this service, as well as groups of moms that connect on Facebook to meet for workouts. If you don’t see a group like this, consider starting one. Find your people.
If you can’t find a group, maybe you can find one fellow mom to connect with for a walk. You might even exchange babysitting for a few hours a week so you can each take a class or go for a solo run.
JOIN A GYM WITH A KIDS CLUB
Mom fitness is big business. Lots of gyms have realized that they need childcare if they’re going to get us in the door. The kids’ area might be a simple room with a facilitator or two, or it might be a whole floor of the facility. Really swanky gyms even have different areas for different age groups and classes for all ages.
As you might imagine, this childcare can get expensive, but look into it before you decide it’s unaffordable. I was a member at LA Fitness for years and paid $10/month/kid for two hours of childcare each day. $20 for 60 potential hours of childcare each month for two kids under five? Not too shabby. Especially when the average babysitter near me charged $20+ per hour.
WORK OUT WITH A VIDEO
We live in a wonderful time where you can have access to all sorts of fitness content right on your phone or tablet. Much of this content is free on YouTube, and a whole new world of content opens up if you’re willing to pay for a subscription.
I personally do Yoga With Adriene on YouTube every morning. She’s got a kajillion videos posted on her site, so I don’t get bored. She even posts a calendar on her website each month with a suggested workout to do each day.
If other types of workouts are more your speed, you might appreciate:
- The Fitness Marshall: for fun dance-based workouts
- Leslie Sansone’s Walk at Home: looks/sounds cheesy, but I bet you’ll sweat
- Fitness Blender: This husband and wife team have over 500 different workout videos on their channel. Surely you can find something that works for you.
There are even videos you can do with your kids. If my kids interrupt my yoga workout in the morning, for instance, I don’t sweat it. We all do a Cosmic Kids Yoga video together.
WALK OR RIDE YOUR BIKE WITH THE KIDS
If you’ve got babies or young toddlers, one of the best ways to stay fit is to purchase a jogging stroller or bike trailer. This lets you take the kids along as you walk, jog, or ride. You’ll get an extra workout as you push or pull the added weight and you’ll get everyone out of the house. (Sometimes the kids even nap in there!)
As the kids get slightly older, they might want to walk or ride also, and there are tons of options for making sure that they have a place to sit when they inevitably don’t want to walk or ride home. You could take along a micro scooter, attach a ride-along board to your stroller, or attach this or this to your bike.
INVEST IN SOME EXERCISE EQUIPMENT TO USE AT HOME
My friend Mary, a work-at-home mom of two, has run at least one mile every day for over 1200 days. Many of these miles were logged with the kids in a jogging stroller. Others were run on the secondhand treadmill in her basement.
Investing in equipment can get expensive and can add needless clutter to your home, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Make your purchases wisely once you’ve been exercising for awhile and have an idea of what you need. Check your neighborhood Facebook marketplace sites and garage sales if you want to purchase a more costly item like a treadmill. Often, people are selling this equipment in like-new condition for pennies on the dollar.
EXERCISE NEAR YOUR KIDS AS THEY PLAY
My kids are five and seven now and don’t require the same vigilance they did as babies. One of my favorite tricks for getting exercise is to walk or jog around the area in which they’re playing. Our favorite playground has a path which goes all around the outside. I’m able to see the boys from every spot on the path, but instead of sitting on a bench, I’m moving my feet. I can also get some squats, triceps dips, lunges, or other exercises done this way.
Going to the pool with your kids? Unless they need you physically holding onto them in the water, consider treading water nearby instead of sitting on the side or standing in the shallowest section.
CREATE SOME NEW HABITS/EXERCISE A FEW SECONDS AT A TIME
See where you can sneak fitness into your day. Can you start a habit of doing 10 squats every time you change a diaper? Hold a plank while something’s defrosting in the microwave? Do a few pushups and sit-ups whenever your baby is doing tummy time? Walk on a treadmill while watching Workin’ Moms on Netflix? These small actions might not feel like much, but done consistently, they can really change the way you look and feel.
REALLY PLAY WITH YOUR KIDS
Do you get down on the ground and play with your kids, or do you watch them from the sidelines? (No judgement here. I’m often the mom who’s urging my kids to “go play” so I can have a minute to look at my phone.)
Wrestling with the kids, chasing them around the house, having a dance party, playing kickball, and giving piggy back rides is great exercise, though. It’s an awesome opportunity to bond with your kids and create memories while burning some calories.
Why should you bother keeping fit as a mom?
You owe it to yourself and your family to take care of yourself.
Exercising helps decrease your stress levels and improves your general emotional health. It will help boost your energy and keep you strong for all the physical tasks of daily life. (Hey, lifting those infant car seats isn’t easy!) Finally, you’ll be setting a great example for your kids of what a healthy adult looks like.
So get out there and get fit–no excuses!
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