Tips For Parents: Finding Time To Exercise
Have you ever met a mom that didn't need a major boost of energy or a little stress reduction? What about a mama who desperately wants to lose weight or feel better about the way she looks and feels? I sure know there are a lot of dads out there who (secretly or not so secretly) would like to light a little spark in their sex life!
Exercising 150 minutes (2.5 hours) each week will do all of this, and more.
Depending on how you go about exercising, it may even provide you with (get this!) peace and solitude. No one calling your name. No one screaming because her sister took her toy from her. Sounds magical, doesn't it?
Something that provides such amazing benefits surely isn't going to be easy, but it will most definitely be worth it!
At a time in our lives when we need the benefits of exercising the most, many parents find it most challenging to find the time or energy to actually do it.
Check out these top 4 tips for parents to find time to exercise.
And then just do it. Without thinking about it. Because if you think about it, it may not happen.
1. Early Morning
When I say early morning, I mean early. Like, before your kids wake up, early.
Although I dread waking up early at my own will, this is my absolute favorite way to exercise now that I am a mom because the benefits are so grand.
Whether you sign up for a 530AM cycle class, hit the pavement for a run to enjoy the sunrise, or quietly practice yoga in your living room, set your alarm, even if it's just once a week, and get 'er done!
Euphoric High: Walking back into the house soaked with sweat and feeling strong before the sun comes up or your kids are awake offers a truly euphoric high.
More Energy: Even with the early morning wake up and a little less sleep, I find myself much more energized on these days.
Alone Time: Not sure if I can think of any other time of the day or week where you can truly be alone. With just your thoughts. No children. No spouse. No boss. This alone time is enough to provide you with the patience needed to take on all of those who will be waiting for you when you return from this blissful workout.
No Procrastination: Working out first thing in the morning offers no time to make excuses, no time to lose steam throughout the day, and no opportunity for other priorities to arise. You wake up. You work out. You mark it off of your list of things to do for the day.
No One Misses You: No one is vying for time at 5AM (and if they are, you need to talk to me about getting your kids to sleep during the night!). Your kids are asleep. Your spouse is asleep. You creep out of the house. And if luck is on your side, your kids will still be sleeping when you are finished with your workout. No one is asking where you are going. No one is begging to come along. There is no guilt.
No Child Care: Your spouse (snoozing, or not) will keep guard over your sleeping children. If you are a single parent or your spouse is traveling, you can do your workout inside the house (or even in your back yard!).
Early Wake Up: No one likes losing sleep. Try to get to bed a little earlier on the nights before your early morning wake up call so you still catch enough Zzz's.
Kids Are Early Risers: Of course, if your kids wake up at 5AM, this may not be for you.
Recurring alarm: The last thing you want to do the night before your early morning workout is to have to remember to set your alarm, which provides you with the opportunity to question whether you want to wake up early, therefore giving you the option of bailing out. Set a recurring alarm, even if it is just once a week, and make your early morning workout something that you just do on certain days of the week.
Quiet Alarm: If you value your relationship with your partner, you may want to consider making your alarm very quiet, or even silent. You can set your alarm to vibrate and place your phone under your pillow so you feel it vibrate, and so you don't wake up your partner (or the rest of the house).
2. Run Your Errands... literally
On the weekends, lace up your sneaks or hop on your bike, and meet your kids and your spouse at your final destination. Whether you are taking the kids to the park, hitting up the farmers market, or heading to Target for a big shopping trip, this is a fun way to get your workout in.
Productive: You have to get where you are going, might as well get a workout in on your way there!
Alone Time: Yet another way to achieve coveted alone time without anyone calling your name or making demands on your time.
Change of Scenery: A nice way to change up your normal workout route. If you find yourself making this part of your weekend routine, change up your route or pick a different destination to run/ride to each weekend (one weekend head to the park, the next run to the farmers market, the next ride to the store).
Motivation: If you set out for your destination, you're going to have to complete your course (although, I suppose your spouse could bail you out if needed)! Making your way to your final destination offers you the motivation you need to go the extra mile.
Location: Not all homes are near a park, or stores, or anywhere you can run or ride to.
Safety First: Make sure you are near a route that is safe to run or ride along. Not all towns are used to runners or cyclists on the roads.
Both Parents Can Workout: Offer your spouse the opportunity to get the same workout and alone time. You run/ride there, and your spouse can run/ride home. This leaves everyone feeling like they can handle the time alone with the kids without any feelings of resentment or envy.
Timing: Leaving the house while your kiddos are getting dressed and into the car will give you a little lead time. Allow your spouse to leave the park a little early, or to hit the pavement while you checkout at the store.
3. Have Your Kids Run You
Once your kiddos are old enough to ride bikes (or scooters or skateboards), hype them up to go for a long bike ride and run along side of them. Everyone wins! The kids are excited to ride. They are excited to spend some fun time with you. And you get to work out!
Quality Time: Honestly, I think I enjoy this just as much (or more) than my son does! We have so much fun finding different routes and chatting along the way. Plus sometimes its fun to have a workout companion with you.
Family Exercise: Both kids and adults get the exercise needed to grow big and strong! Building exercise into your family's routine establishes a strong foundation of healthy living for your kids. It shows them that exercise is fun and important and that its something that you can and should do!
Weather: You may have to skip this if there is inclement weather, as you slippery or wet roads are not the most safe for a young bike rider.
Know Your Limits: When setting out with your kiddo for the first time, stay close enough to home that you'll be able to make it back in the event that you have a kiddo with tired legs. Sometimes excitement can take your kiddo further than his stamina will allow, leaving you far from home with a bike that you have to push back or a kid that wants carried (in this case, call your spouse for a lift!).
Open Mind: Go into your workout with an open mind. This may not be the most challenging workout you ever have (although it might, depending on how fast or far your kiddo wants to ride!). Have fun with it and realize the time you spend with your child, the example you are setting (exercise is fun and important!), and the memories you are making will far outweigh the reward of getting a PR on a run by yourself.
Whole Family Workout: If you have one kiddo (or more) who is ready for long bike rides, but one (or more) who is not, put the other in the stroller, and set out on a run with the whole family!
4. One Hour Rule
Despite best intentions, the weekends tend to be filled with a whole lot of family time and little time to do anything for (or by) yourself. Make an agreement with your spouse. Each adult gets one hour to do anything they want over the weekend. ONE HOUR. That's not a lot. But one hour can be just enough to give you the opportunity to get in a great workout. And its short enough that either spouse can handle the kids alone during that time.
Enough Time: One hour allows you enough time to get in a pretty solid work out.
Get Creative: Do something you might not normally do! Go for a run on a nearby trail while your spouse keeps the kids at the park. Coordinate your one hour with a friend and meet at the tennis courts. Take a yoga or group fitness class.
Both Adults Win: Both adults get a chance to work out. Equal is always better.
Alone With The Kids: Your spouse many not be up for keeping the kids alone for any portion of the day. The good thing is, you will return the favor the next day, so all will be equal.
Nap Time: Schedule your one hour during nap time so your spouse doesn't feel too overwhelmed with managing the kiddos.
Pick A Day: One adult picks Saturday, the other picks Sunday. Neither weekend day will be overtaken by your one hour time slots, yet both parents feel reenergized and ready to take on the rest of the day.
Katie Ramirez, RN, BSN, CLC
Born Happy, Owner and Coach
Katie Ramirez is a Registered Nurse and Certified Lactation Counselor. She has spent more than a decade serving patients at major university hospitals such as Vanderbilt University and Penn State University Medical Centers. Katie now spends her time supporting and empowering parents of babies and toddlers as owner and Coach for Born Happy.
Katie is the proud mother of two beautiful children, Roberto (age 4), and Veronica (age 2). She has a passion for health, wellness, and happy children, and believes that, with the necessary knowledge and support, all parents can live happy.
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