We all know it’s important to exercise for our health. Many of us also want to exercise, enjoying the many benefits that come with moving our bodies, hitting workout goals, and keeping to a regular movement schedule.
When you have kids, though, schedules change. A lot of the time you used to spend on yourself now goes to the kid. That’s certainly not a bad thing, but it can make fitting in a workout challenging. Here are some tips to help.
For kids young enough that someone needs to watch them all the time, it can work out well if you can trade times with your partner where one of you is exercising and one is watching the kids. Some parents also find ways to work out over their lunch breaks or to stop at the gym on the way home before the babysitter leaves or the kids get home from school (depending on your own work schedule, of course).
Also, cut yourself some slack. If your kid has a nightmare and no one sleeps well, you don’t need to feel guilty about doing a lighter workout the next day. If you used to work out for an hour or so every day but now struggle to fit in ten minutes, that’s okay. Give yourself permission to do what’s best for you and your family and set realistic goals for the types of workouts you want to do.
Babies and Toddlers
Babies like being held, and they get heavier as they get older. Instead of worrying about not being able to fit in a traditional workout, remember that you’re getting a different sort of workout by taking care of your child. You can also keep doing some workouts, like Zumba, with the baby in a carrier. If you like walking and running, invest in a jogging stroller so the kid can come with you.
Toddlers often like to spend all their time with you, but don’t need to be held all the time. You can lift weights, practice yoga, and other at-home exercises with a small child around. Just be extra careful with safety, especially if you’re using weights or working out on a machine that could pinch little fingers. Find ways to combine playtime and exercise time, and you’ll strengthen your relationship with your child while keeping yourself fit.
Once the kids are off to school, there might be a little more time to fit in workouts either in the morning, during a lunch break, or before they get home. It can still be tough, though, since most of us are working when the kids are in class.
If you can’t find time to exercise while the kids are at school, why not exercise along with them? Depending on the children’s ages and interests, some parents find that their kids enjoy running, biking, walking, swimming, or practicing martial arts right alongside them.
Middle and High Schoolers
Once your kids get older, it’s easier to get them involved in your workouts or to work out while they’re doing their own things. Here at Extreme Studio Performance (ESP), we have a lot of high school age athletes using our indoor fields. It’s common for parents to work out here in the gym while kids practice on the fields with their coaches and teams.
If you’re raising a young athlete, it’s never too early to get them involved in a training program. Keeping kids and teens active is good for their mental and physical health. It can even improve concentration and help them do better in school. Come see us at ESP for a free consultation, assessment, and functional movement screening for you and/or your child.