Updated: Feb 2
It can be hard to find time to go to the bathroom alone, much less find time to exercise. Plus, if exercise hasn't been a recent part of your routine, it sucks getting back in shape. But then it starts to hurt so good.
Exercise has tons of health benefits for people, but for parents specifically, it can make or break your mental health. Exercise has been show to help decrease depression, anxiety, and being annoyed by your children and your spouse. Okay, I made up that last part, but it is true for me, so maybe it'll work for you?
One of my favorite parts of exercise? Alone time. Peace and solitude. No one calling my name. No one screaming because somebody took the other person's toy. Magic. Plus I feel like a badass afterwards.
Check out my 4 favorite 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.
This was my favorite way to exercise when I was working a full time, at an out-of-the-house job, with no flexibility to work out during the day. I hate waking up early, and it was still my favorite time of the day. If you know me, that should really tell you something.
Whether you sign up for a 530AM cycle class, hit the pavement for an early 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!
My favorite ways to making this happen?
Set a reoccurring 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, which, at least for me, highly increases the chances 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.
Also, 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).
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.
2. Run Your Errands... literally
On the weekends, lace up your sneaks or hop on your bike, and meet the rest of the family at your final destination. Whether you are taking the kids to the park, hitting up the farmers market, or heading to Target, this is a fun way to get your workout in.
Want to win over your spouse? Offer him/her 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 and eliminates any feelings of resentment or envy.
Leave the house while your kiddos are getting dressed and into the car to give you a little lead time. And to return the favor, allow your spouse to leave the park a little early or to hit the pavement while you checkout at the store.
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.
3. Have Your Kids Run You
Once your kiddos are old enough to ride bikes (or scooters or skateboards), ask them to ride their bikes with you while you run! This is one of our fav's. The kids are excited to ride. They are excited to spend some fun time with you. And you get to work out!
Disclaimer: I highly recommend that you go into your family workout with an open mind. This may not be the most challenging workout you ever have. Or maybe it is depending on how fast or far your kiddo wants to ride! Have fun with it! The time you spend with your kiddo, 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.
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!
Quality Time: Honestly, I think I enjoy this just as much (or more) than my kiddos do! 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!).
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 it can be just enough to give you the opportunity to get in a great workout. And it's short enough that either spouse can handle the kids alone during that time.
How to make it work? Schedule your one hour during nap time so your spouse doesn't feel too overwhelmed with managing the kiddos. Or 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.
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.
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 7), and Veronica (age 5). 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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