Did you make it to the gym today? No? Oh, I can relate, as I didn’t either! Isn’t that truly the reality for all of us busy Moms? I know that it is for me! Ever since I became a Mom, however, not making it to the gym is more the norm than the exception. At first, it used to bother me, as I just wanted to get back into my old routine. I realized very quickly, babies become the new routine! So instead of fighting the new reality of my life, I decided to embrace it and find a way to fit my fitness goals into my life, baby and all. I wasn’t about to let motherhood stop me from staying in shape and getting the much needed stress release that exercise offers. I knew how important it was to make it happen. But how?
Put YOU on the Schedule
Well, I had realized quickly after the birth of our first child is that not only did I want to get back in shape, but I needed to make myself a priority. No, it isn’t always easy, but I knew that my kids would benefit, too, as a healthy, well-balanced Mom is a much more relaxed and patient Mom. Plus, setting the example of leading a balanced, healthy life would ultimately teach them important lessons in the long run – a bonus for us all! So how did I manage to find time to exercise between feedings, diaper changes, naps, and taking care of our two other children? I made a point to schedule my exercise into my day just like everything else by picking a time of day when I knew I could lace up my shoes, leash up the dog, and head outside for a walk. As our family grew, I continued this routine, making sure that I could easily fit in exercise while our older children were in school, allowing me to be available to them when they got home. Once this became part of our daily routine, it was easy to head out for some fresh air and calorie burning, as we all looked forward to it. When our babies were little, they napped happily in a front carrier, but as they grew older, stroller rides became an easier way to travel. If you are feeling ambitious, a jogging stroller with a baby in tow makes for a great cardiovascular and strength workout combined! On the weekends, we will often go for walks as a family, with the older kids joining us, on foot or on bikes. These regular walks offer our kids a mini adventure, as they are a perfect time to talk about the sights and sounds of the out of doors. Bring a camera to take pictures of any interesting finds!
What about the days when the kids just don’t want to head out walking? After all, sometimes mother nature doesn’t cooperate and walks aren’t possible, so what do you do then? If you are fortunate enough to have a treadmill or other type of exercise equipment to use, then strap on your shoes during nap time and fit in a workout then. Sure, you may feel like your ‘to do’ list is long, but you’ll have extra energy from getting a good workout in, so you’ll have plenty of energy to tackle the laundry and cleaning later. Nap time works well, but some days, I instead let the kids put in a favorite video to watch while I sneak in a workout. That way I can still tackle my ‘to do’s’ and work out!
Let the Kids Join In
One of my favorite ways to exercise is WITH our kids. Walking or hiking together as a family had been a staple in our lives, and now that our kids are older, we can do even more together, such as going on bike rides, swimming, skiing, and even jogging. How about setting up a game of soccer or baseball in the yard, or pulling out the jump ropes and hula hoops? Whatever your family’s favorite sports and play activities are can easily be adapted to your backyard or a field at your local park. A family that plays together stays together is a great mantra to remember, too, as sharing these fun activities with your loved ones forms stronger bonds between you and your kids with the added benefit of boosting everyone’s health. During the colder months, I often pull out the yoga mats, some exercise balls, and an aerobic stepper for a workout, and the kids join in right next to me on their own. Suddenly, our kids are busy moving their bodies, setting up an obstacle course, and having fun while I can look on and fit in my own workout!
Be Flexible and Get Creative
What if you simply have no time for a formal workout? Some days, that is just simply the reality. Instead of throwing in the towel, just get creative – do squats while holding your baby, calf raises while you are on the phone and leg circles while you cook dinner. You can do push ups and sit ups first thing in the morning or right before you get ready for bed, or with the kids while they play nearby on the floor. Here’s the key - simply make finding time to move a priority. Any bit of exercise, even short 5-10 minute sessions a few times a day will make a difference in your health, happiness, and overall well being. Additionally, people who exercise regularly tend to stay healthier overall, as exercise boosts immunity. These are all important reasons to find the time to stay active, because you will not only start to feel better, but as an added bonus, you can also work on your personal goals, such as to lose weight, build muscle, or get ready for swimsuit season. Plus, what could be better than having more energy to keep up with your kids, and all the while, you will be setting a great example for how to lead a healthy, balanced life. You are all worth the effort it takes to fit in fitness!