Hey mama, I hear you… Finding time to work out when you have a baby and/or toddler in the house is HARD! I think it can be especially challenging for new mamas who are so exhausted from the newborn middle-of-the-night wakings, or simply trying to adjust to their new normal of never being alone. Believe me, I’ve been there!
One morning, when I was home with my 3-month-old firstborn (who was colicky and a horrible sleeper), I got fed up with my life feeling controlled by a tiny human. I missed my workouts and I missed feeling like myself. So, I decided right then and there my new motto moving forward would be, ‘Something is better than nothing.’ What started as a few minutes of movement during his first nap every day turned into me getting into the swing of finding time to commit to my workouts with kids in the house. Here’s my tips on how to do it.
1. Allow them to join you
This isn’t always easy, but I promise the more you do it, the easier it gets! Your children may not like it at first, but soon it becomes a routine and they come to expect (and respect!) mama’s workout time. At our home gym, our son likes to pretend to work out with us, and our daughter likes to play with her toys around us. Yes, we have to stop and start our workout a few times to attend to their needs, but it’s much better than not working out at all. And, we get the opportunity to model for our children what taking care of our body and mind looks like to help instill healthy habits for them early!
2. Provide kids rewards for being patient during your workouts
I know it can be a challenge for babies and toddlers to entertain themselves long enough for you to get a good workout in. Before I work out, I’ll tell my children what fun we’re going to have after the workout so they behave and have something to look forward to. I try not to make it revolve around food because that’s a weird habit to start so early. (We’re going to work out so we can have cookies later?? NO!!) The rewards are usually something like we get to go to the playground, library, or even Target! Or, we’ll play a game they love or watch a movie together as a family.
3. Try shorter but more frequent workouts
If your kids simply can’t give you a solid 30 minutes to get a workout in, try breaking up your workouts into two 15-20-minute workouts throughout the day. For example, I’ll do a 20 minute walk in the morning and then a quick 15 minute HIIT in the afternoon.
4. Work out during their nap
This can be tough in the early infant stages when you’re so exhausted from night feedings and adjusting to life with a newborn! Even though you’re tired, I recommend working out during the baby’s very first nap of the day. It’s usually their most routine and longest nap of the day (so you could potentially workout AND nap!), and it will give you a guaranteed workout time every day. I know all you want to do is nap when they nap, but if you move a little bit first thing in the morning during that first nap around 9 a.m., I promise it will make you feel better and give you more energy for the rest of your day. Even if it’s only a quick 20 minute workout!
5. Take turns with your partner
My husband is great about this! On the weekends, one of us stays with the kids while the other gets to have their own solo workout time. It’s typically when we do our most intense workouts of the week, because we’re able to focus without child distractions. We take turns. Afterward, we usually do something active as a family, and it’s a really rewarding day!
6. Add more movement throughout your day
If you’re really struggling to find time to work out while caring for your children, try to find all the small opportunities to move more. Take the stairs, play ‘tag’ with your kids, have a dance party, park far away so you have to walk further to get to the store or work, stand when you’d normally sit… anything!
7. Stay up late or get up early
I’m only mentioning this because I know so many who have had success with working out before their kids wake up, or going to the gym after kids’ bedtimes. This isn’t for me now, but I hope it will be in the future. I used to always work out at 6 a.m. but that changed when I had kids, because I have early rising babies. My husband has a very demanding job, so I remain the kiddos number one caretaker while he gets ready and leaves for work super early. I go to bed at 8:30 p.m. so the idea of squeezing in a sweaty workout at 8 p.m. sounds dreadful – LOL!
I hope these tips are helpful! You can do it mama!
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Maggie Jackson. You can follow her journey on Instagram, YouTube, and her website. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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