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Trying to balance a healthy workout life and take care of children can be exhausting even before you get to your first jumping jack. When I started exercising after my son was born, the struggle to get that time in was real y’all. I was aiming for naptime, so if that was a bust, there went my window of opportunity. I still remember the first time a friend of mine finally suggested I workout while my son was awake: “If I can’t get my workout in during his naptime, I just do it while he is in the room with me, ” she said. “He usually giggles at me and thinks it’s funny.” I am not really sure the look I gave her, but it was probably one mixed with equal parts confusion and admiration. My little lovebug was not interested in giggling at me. He wanted to be held, steal my weights, or sometimes both at the same time. It took some time before I figured out that life, and my son, were never going to make it easy for me to workout. But in that same breath it was also alarmingly clear that working out doesn’t have to be this perfect image of going to the gym, pumping iron or running for days. It actually IS possible to get a workout in with a child (or several), feel satisfied and see results. Here are 10 ways I use and observed from other mamas to help get you moving, even on the most dauntingly paced, crazy days of #momlife:
1) Workout from home. For FREE.
So many of us think that going to the gym is the only classification of a decent workout. Guilty! I went through the same feeling and paid for a membership that ended up being used for downtown city parking. I think I actually made it a good solid two times that entire year. Fortunately there is a better and more convienient way. While I had a problem getting to the gym, I didn’t seem to have a problem scrolling facebook. I mean, I don’t want to brag, but my fingers were in great shape ;) Social media tends to place way more ads on their sites these days and one came across my feed for Mommy Trainer. This program sounded great because you could do it from home via youtube videos and it was done in less than 25 min. Plus, it was free. Sign me up.
Mommy Trainer has proven to be an amazing workout program. It is so motivating to see another Mom (of 3!) show that it IS possible to get in crazy good shape and feel great about yourself again. If Mommy Trainer isn’t your style, there are so many other quick, easy HIIT challenges and assorted workouts that can be done at home for free. Just search “Free 15 day workout challenge” and you will find quite a few. Many are structured with daily workouts and meal plans, even a full grocery shopping list! Check out How To Exercise At Home: The 50 Best Free Online Workout Resources. Don’t be afraid to branch out and try something new! The longer working out becomes a part of your daily life, the easier it will be to continue.
2) Figure out your workout sweet spot.
Some of us have stage 5 clingers. Thats right. As soon as you are out of eyeshot, they get a pull from that imaginary umbilical cord that apparently was never cut. I am pretty sure I saw my husband cut mine but whatevs… In these situations, you are going to have to find your workout sweet spot: that block of 30 min where your baby is sleeping and not in your arms. This may be during naptime, after bedtime, or for some women, at the crack of dawn. There are so many mamas that swear by getting up at 5am, knocking out that workout and feeling amazing the rest of the day. Let’s clarify that I am not one of those mamas. My sweet spot was usually naptime or while my husband did story time with my son at night. I work the overnight shift too so if I did my workout before going in, I was nice and energized. Some days that sweet spot had to shift around depending on how the day was going. If we are honest with ourselves, there is usually a sweet spot somewhere in the day, most days. We just have to choose how we are going to use it. Play around with different times until you find what works for you. There is no “one size fits all” in this category. You do you boo boo.
3) Workout with them.
Obviously there are going to be those exceptions where the sweet spot just doesn’t make an appearance. Maybe they skipped a nap, are too old to nap or you are the napping spot. Whatever the case, it IS possible to get a workout done with your kids in the room. These workout seem less than fulfilling most times because in addition to getting your sweat on, you may also be filling a sippy cup and chasing your weights as a toddler runs from you, giggling hysterically. When you feel yourself getting stressed, make a point to remember that your workout is short and that you are doing this for the good of everyone around you, including your sanity. Mama needs to burn off that steam one way or another! Chasing your toddler means extra calories burned too so bonus points for you mama! If your kids are weight thieves like mine is, solve the problem but setting them up with weights of their own! There are a few different companies that make foam weights perfect for your little bodybuilders. It not only helps keep your children out of your stuff, but they see and feel the importance of what it means to work out. Who knows, they may even do a few sets with you! Click on the weight below for more details:
4) Use a distraction.
My absolute favorite distraction is snacks, since most kids universally love to eat, especially if its something they love. If they are small enought to fit in a high chair, you can plop them nearby with a tray of goodies and go to burpee-town. While I realize many families are not pro-television for their children, if there is no other distraction available, TV may be beneficial for a short period of time. In the 30 min it is going to take you to workout, they can watch something educational. My son absolutely loves Baby Einstein videos as well as several youtube videos that teach colors, shapes, numbers, songs, etc. I personally feel that he is benefitting from the programs he watches just as much as I benefit getting that mommy time to work on myself. Here are some of our FREE favorites:
5) Teach them working out is fun!
If your kids are a little older, let them workout too! There is an amazing FREE program called Cosmic Kids Yoga. This is formatted especially for children and tells a story throughout each video. What a great distraction that actually gets your kids up and moving! Check out the program below
6) Take them with you.
Got a jogging stroller? Push it mama! Bicycle? Get a bike seat! Kids love to go outside and do all these fun activities. If they can ride their own bicycle or skate, go running alongside them. Your kids will have a blast and it is such great quality time that will go into their little brain vault as “my Mom was the coolest person today ever!” Who knows, you may even wear them out a little earlier than usual. What’s that? Early bedtime and extra mommy time? You’re welcome ;) Here are some links to an affordable seats that are perfect for family bike rides.
7) Get active.
Just as there is no rule that you have to workout in the gym, there is no rule that you have to do any kind of workout. Some days, just getting active is better than nothing. This one is harder for mamas with little ones, but if your kids are old enough, you can start rollerblading, kayaking, paddleboarding, surfing, skateboarding, rock climbing, hiking, gardening, walking the dog, etc. The options are endless. You will be creating memories for years to come and burning calories at the same time. #lookatyouwinning
8) Embrace the chaos.
Some days the distractions, snacks and all else will fail and you may find youself sharing a workout space with a tiny tornado. A few weeks ago my husband was out of town so I had to shift my schedule around a bit. This is an actual example of how the workout went down, from my toddler’s perspective:
“Turn lights on. Turn lights off. Lights on. Lights off. Lights on. Lights off. Giggle uncontrollably. Throw all pillows onto moms workout space. Watch her move them. Put them back on her workout space. Take moms weights and move them. Climb up and down on her step up location when she needs to use it. Lights on. Lights off. Lights on. Lights off. Steal the computer mouse so she can chase you. Watch her try to fix the computer that you magnified with the mouse (bonus points for this maneuver). Demand to be tickled. Giggle uncontrollably. Lights on. Run in five consecutive circles. See ball taken out for glute raises. Scream “Ball!” in excited high pitched tone. Immediately steal ball and roll it into another room. Watch mom do normal glute raises on the floor. Sit next to her and pat her belly while she does flutter kicks. Clap for her. Move pillows back into workout space. Look outside and scream “Pool!!!” Realize we aren’t going in the pool and run to check on movie. Lock yourself into the living room. Shake the gate repeatedly until mom opens it again. Lights on. Lights off…”
In these moments, the best thing you can do is take a deep breath, laugh and push through your workout. Do the modifications. Fill the sippy cup up. Twice. Get your weights back. Turn the lights back on. What ever you need to do, just do it and remember that there is a little person watching you. This is such an amazing time to show them how important it is to take care of our health. They learn by example and repetition. What better was to teach about a healthy life than to model one in front of them!!
9) Join a support group.
I have found that the key to success is holding yourself accountable. In the beginning, that trust needs to be earned (yes…from yourself!) There is no one to get you back on the wagon when you fall off but yourself. After you have been at it for awhile, you can be a little more trustworthy because you have seen results, so it’s easier to stay on course. One of the best ways you can stay accountable is to get a workout partner. If there is not a willing partner nearby, join an online group. While you may not have any mommas willing to partner up in person, there are hundreds of thousands of women willing and ready to change their life right now. Join the movement and be inspired. I joined the Mommy Trainer 6 week challenge group a few months ago. They have been such a wonderfully supportive and inspirational group. If I don’t feel like working out, or life gets the best of me that day, I just log in and see these incredible women post a sweatie selfie. That selfie means more than finishing a workout. It means they overcame the voice in their head that tried to stop them. It gives me hope and reminds me if they push through and find the time, so can I.
10) Remember why you are working out in the first place.
Why do you want to workout? Is it to get a better figure, more energy, stress relief? Find your why. If you don’t have a direction, it’s really hard to get to a destination. Some people are advocates of a vision board and if you are a visual person, I say go for it. But it may just be something as simple as writing down your inspiration on an index card and filing it away in a special place. Whatever way you decide to record your why, the most important part is to find that motivation that drives you to succeed. You may start out not even knowing why, but over the course of a few weeks, it will begin to surface. Once you can solidify a reason, its so much easier to stay on course. You are worth it to find out and achieve your dreams.
One last thing…results take time. Some days just wont happen. Life isn’t perfect so don’t beat yourself up. Every day is new and you get a chance for a fresh start. This is a fitness journey; a marathon, not a sprint. Stick with it and you WILL see results over time. You will feel amazing. You will find yourself again.
“Be you. Do you. For you.” ~anonymous