We know how difficult it is to juggle parenthood and self-care. Whether you used to be a regular gym-goer or fitness fanatic who wants to get back on track, or you want to get fit to be able to run after your toddlers, these five ways to get back into shape while simultaneously mastering the challenging world of parenting.
Managing Your Time
As you probably already know, being a parent doesn’t always go to plan. On some days, making a schedule seems a completely pointless task. But if you use your time wisely, you’ll find a lot more can fit in than you think. For example, when you finally have you time, or during that time when your baby/child goes down for a nap, and you (and maybe your partner) sit down and scroll mindlessly on Instagram or Pinterest for an hour, how much time does this waste? You can use that time instead to do something active, even for just a little while. For instance, when your baby is put down or toddlers are in bed, do a quick home workout. It may only last 10 minutes, but it is 10 minutes more than you were doing previously, and it will make you feel so much better. I often do my workouts when my girls are sleeping so I am not interrupted, but I try to do them as soon as they are in bed so I don’t keep myself awake too late. If it’s in the budget, having workout equipment at home can really help, but there are many online bodyweight workouts that you can find for free as well.
Walking the School Run
Even changing something as small as your school run can have a major impact. If you walk your school run instead of drive it, or maybe cycle or jog it with your child, you will be simultaneously getting in daily exercise as well as running the biggest errand of the day. If you live too far away for this to be manageable, perhaps park an appropriate distance from the school and walk together. This way, you both get fresh air and, most importantly, you get a morning stroll in before the day has even started. Often, we look at those moms or dads walking into school, or cycling with their matching sweatsuits and think this an entirely unachievable, but it’s not, and it doesn’t have to be. Just getting up that little bit earlier to make sure you can dress your child and pack their bag is all that is required to make this a completely achievable way to get your daily exercise in.
Although the thought of going swimming and not being all-consumed with your toddler splashing around or pretending to drown may be completely crazyl, it is entirely doable. Firstly, think about enrolling your child in swimming classes. Then, you can spend the time doing lanes in the adult pool. You don’t always need to be mindlessly watching from the parents’ lobby, reading a book, chatting to other parents, or scrolling on social media. You and your child (or children) can get your daily exercise done and at the same time! You can both shower at the pool to maximize time, too.
Have you considered incorporating your child into your activities, keeping them happy while simultaneously getting your daily exercise in? Two activities that one can do with children are jogging and at-home workouts. Jogging with a jogging stroller can be beneficial for the baby to get some fresh air, but likewise beneficial for you. This is because you would be running with a weight, thus burning off more calories and building up more strength. Make the most of the scenes in your city and begin to appreciate it a little more. There are even fitness classes called Fit4Mom where you can take kids in stollers for workouts with other moms.
Have you tried workouts actually using your baby or toddler to your advantage? For example, baby-proof your room first, get your toddler to join in, and mimic what you are doing. Jumping jacks, horse kicks, sumo squats, or lunges are so fun for children to try out and to see their parents doing, too. They can have fun and mess around while you can actually get your exercise in and strengthen your muscles. Also, try a variation of burpees, where you bend your legs at right angles in the air and place your toddler on your shins. From here, with your back starting on the floor, lift your upper body up to reach your legs. This almost works as a variation of peek-a-poo, keeping your toddler happy but also yourself. In my home we have a Tonal workout system that offers family classes that you can do with your kids. Even if you don’t have something like this, there are many apps and online videos you can use for ideas for family workouts.
If all else fails, and you still can’t find any me time, consider enrolling your child in a sports class. Many children now aren’t brought up knowing the value of exercise and how its presence early on can positively influence their mental health. There are some fantastic kids’ gymnastic classes, trampolining classes, or athletics to ease your toddler into the empowering world of exercise. With this achieved, there will be more valuable yet hard to come by me time, which parents so often are deprived of. Either enroll yourself in a class in the same sports complex for the same time or use that time to go on a jog around the area. Either way, this is a perfect chance not to feel like you are just paying someone else to look after your child so you can exercise, because you can both be learning things simultaneously. Again, after-school classes won’t cut any time out of the day and conveniently fit your schedule.
Family Walks and Hikes
One of my favorite ways to stay active as a parent is going on family walks or hikes. Kids and parents alike love spending time outdoors while getting some exercises. You can have a family race, for example, and the kids burn off some energy while all of you get a workout.
Overall, there are plenty of ways in which you can stay fit and health. Whether that be analyzing and using your time more wisely, incorporating your child into your exercises, or enrolling them in their own classes, use this guide to help carve out that valuable me time that you deserve.