Why do you work out in the first place? As a parent, you may want to keep up with your kids at play, see them grow up, and watch them live their own life as they age. You may want to be there when they achieve the biggest milestones in their life. This is why most parents strive to keep up with their workout routine and maintain their overall wellness.
Ever since starting your family, when was the last time you laid your yoga mat or picked up your weights? If it’s just recently, cool. But if you’ve stopped altogether, it’s fine, too!
You might not get to workout everyday and that’s fine. It’s not something you should be anxious or frustrated about, just take slow, sure steps towards your fitness journey.
Getting fit while being a parent can be a challenge but it is rewarding.
- Finding Time For Fitness While Parenting
- Balancing Your Workout Time With Your Family Time
- Workout Ideas For The Whole Family
- Key Takeaways
Finding Time For Fitness While Parenting
Doing housework or working a job while parenting leaves no time for a breather, much less for a proper workout. After a full day, you’re tired so all you want to do is get rest whenever you catch a break.
Your diet might also have flown out the window. You might be eating leftovers. You might be snacking on kiddie snacks because you get hungry, too. That’s completely fine.
Finding time for fitness while parenting doesn’t have to be another source of stress. True, it’s overwhelming and almost impossible when you have to think of everything else on your to-do list day in and day out but it’s doable.
Some of the chores and parenting stuff you do on a daily or even hourly basis–like running after your toddler or squatting and picking up toys– count as a partial workout.
Maybe, you need clarity about your fitness goals and some monitoring help. And you can get real creative with it.
Start Small And Creative
Start with small goals first. Or whatever you think needs prioritising. Do you want to improve strength, flexibility, and endurance? Do you want to lose weight? Maybe you just want to get that “normalcy” and sense of self back after the crazy infancy stage.
Once you’ve identified what you’d like to improve, you can start working towards your fitness goals without adding more time.
Trust me, if you feel like it won’t have to be wedged into your schedule, you’re more likely to do it.
Recognize that some household activities compensate for the workouts you need. Some fitness apps like MyFitnessPal even have calories burned for chores like gardening. What do you do at home? For example, you lift laundry baskets from your basement and up or carry your 7-pound infant around the house. That’s powerful upper body training right there.
Now you’re more aware about your chores doing double duty. Do an extra stretch while cleaning corners. Enforce some squatting instead of bending where applicable. Jog or run when you go out for an errand. Play some upbeat music so you can become more active while doing chores. Get two things done at the same time.
The important point to remember here is first, to acknowledge that there are changes in your energy and activity levels when you’re busy parenting. Second, falling out of fitness goals is normal. You don’t have to punish yourself for things you can’t do. So start small and take it slow.
Balancing Your Workout Time With Your Family Time
Once you’ve established small fitness habits, you can now start incorporating more workouts and fitness goals into your lifestyle without feeling overburdened.
Involve Your Kids.
Lay out the puzzle mats and dance along to interactive children shows or kid-friendly exercise videos. Make the most of your kid’s energy. Not only is your child introduced to exercising in a fun way but you get to make memories with them, too!
If you have preschoolers, instead of them messing with their toys, their playtime can sometimes consist of fun exercise activities they can follow through. Or you can teach them to exercise while doing chores!
Exercising with your kids doesn’t only help you get fit but it also teaches them to have an active lifestyle at a young age.
Adapting Exercise To Your Day.
Getting some exercise is not always an overwhelming full-on hour to squeeze into your schedule.
If you’re at work, take a walk around or climb up and downstairs.
Or if you’re at home, you can get up 10-15 minutes earlier to do some yoga or a nice ride on your upright bike. Doing so conditions you to take on your tasks for the day, and at the same time, helps you build fitness habits.
Schedule A Time For Yourself.
If you can, clear your schedule for at least 1-2 or few hours every week.
Split parental duties with your partner and let them watch your kids and do some chores. Or if you’re a single parent, drop your kids off for playdates or babysitting. You can prepare some of your chores the day before too so you’ll have more time the next day.
Take a yoga or a karate class, or maybe a fitness program you’ve always wanted to try.
Sometimes you need that time away from your kids at least once a week to help you achieve your fitness goal and get that me-time. After the temporary reset, you can come back refreshed and more motivated. The people you meet in these classes also help tremendously in giving you accountability and support.
Make It A Family Habit.
Instill the importance of fitness to your family. Practice it in different creative ways that work for you and your family’s schedule to prevent your fitness goals from dying out.
Whether it’s a weekly family hangout, playing family sports, or just dancing during playtime, a fitness activity that doubles as a bonding time is time well spent.
Be Gentle With Yourself.
Being a parent already comes with tons of mental and physical demands. Don’t push yourself too hard. Take it slowly especially if you haven’t worked out in a long time.
If you have rambunctious preschoolers, go for yoga, pilates, or powerful but gentle movements of weight lifting rather than HIIT workouts so you don’t wear yourself out. It’s best to check with a trainer for realistic goals that match your activity levels and your goals.
Workout Ideas For The Whole Family
Workouts don’t have to be limited to timed crunches in gyms, although that’s great for your me-time. Explore the outdoors with your family and lead an active life that benefits your overall wellness.
Whether it’s spring or summer, riding a bike with your family is a great way to exercise. Cycling uses all of the major muscle groups and is great for cardiovascular health. It also increases strength and flexibility.
Go on a family bike ride on weekends and ride around your neighborhood. Not only will you introduce your children to being physically active, but you also get to enjoy a more fun way to spend quality time with your family.
Go for an outing by the pool and teach your kids how to swim. Swimming improves strength and cardiovascular endurance.
Divide into teams for fun games like water volleyball or basketball. Or go for a friendly swimming race with your kids. When you swim, you involve your entire body in exercise without even realizing you’re doing it.
Take A Walk Or A Short Hike.
The easiest way to burn calories and maintain a physically active lifestyle is to take a walk. A study says that walking at a pace of 3–5 m/h (5–8 km/h) is considered a moderate intensity exercise.(1)
Let your kids run around. You always have the option to go for a walk no matter where you live, and kids of all ages can come along.
Walking helps you maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of heart disease, and improve your mental health.
Hiking isn’t always about mountains and trails, you have to make a trip to reach. Just walk uphill somewhere near your neighborhood. And yes, the five miles you walk when you go shopping for home necessities in big box stores absolutely count.
Schedule An Aerobic Dance Session At Home.
Seize your kids’ energy and go on an aerobic dance session. There are tons of easy aerobic dance videos on YouTube that your kids can easily jive with. POPSUGAR Fitness features cardio moves that feel like just games and challenges for your kids.
Or try a Disney mix dance workout. Your kids will enjoy it more when you play songs they know and love.
But it’s not just always about aerobics. Find a random playlist on YouTube or Spotify and crank it up. Let each family member choose songs and create a family playlist you can jive with while doing your household chores.
Introduce Sports To Your Kids.
Frisbee, table tennis, badminton, and soccer are just a few of the sports that can involve your family.
Engaging in sports is a good way to get active and burn some calories, and it also
encourages teamwork and improves self-esteem. According to a study, introducing team sports to children and adolescents boosts physical, psychological, and social health.(2)
Join For-A-Cause Events.
There are a lot of fun runs, planting trees, and other charity fitness activities that you and your family can join on your free days. With these events, you teach your kids to become active and aware of their contribution to the community.
Once you become a parent, you lose time for yourself. The chores and work responsibilities always leave you drained and tired all the time. Your energy levels aren’t the same as before, you lose your pre-parenthood figure and you feel guilty for not having time to do workouts. It’s completely normal and you shouldn’t punish yourself for that.
While it may be tricky, incorporating fitness in your life is achievable. Start small with what you want to improve first and improvise. Find ways to make it work according to you and your children’s schedule.
Getting fit gives you power and strength to do more things and to spend more time with your family.
1. Eime, R.M., Young, J.A., Harvey, J.T. et al. (2013). A systematic review of the psychological and social benefits of participation in sport for children and adolescents: informing development of a conceptual model of health through sport. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 10, 98 https://doi.org/10.1186/1479-5868-10-98
2. Department of Health. (2011). Start active, stay active: A report on physical activity from the four home countries’ Chief Medical Officers. Department of Health and Social Care. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/267736961_Start_Active_Stay_Active_A_Report_on_Physical_Activity_for_Health_From_the_Four_Home_Countries’_Chief_Medical_Officers