How to find time to workout as a busy mom.
Taking care of ourselves is something most moms struggle with. We feel guilty about taking time to exercise. Our time and attention is pulled in a million different directions. The to-do list becomes so long that taking care of ourselves doesn’t always seem like a top priority. We’re tired and don’t always have the energy to do it. And honestly… we just sometimes don’t feel like it.
The reality is, exercising can be tough enough when you don’t have kids but, adding kids to the mix can make prioritizing your health and self-care even tougher.
But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it.
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Why you need self-care.
I know that it can be super hard to create the time for you between the real like stress and the guilt but can I tell you something…
Yup, you matter more than you realize and more than you’re willing to admit. Because if you take the time to actually acknowledge how fabulous you are, you’ll have to admit that you haven’t been treating yourself the way you deserve. You’ll have to admit that you’ve put yourself on the backburner and that you need to get back to it.
But taking that time to workout a few times a week (I currently work out 5-6x a week for around 30-40 minutes) does more than just get your heart pumping. When you leave a workout, you feel accomplished. You feel proud and you are reminded that you are worth that effort.
You are better when you fill your cup and when you do, you can be a better mom. There is a reason that on airplanes, you are told to put on your oxygen mask first. It’s because if you’re a panicked mess, there is NO way you’ll be able to help someone else.
And it’s the same situation in life. If you aren’t taking care of yourself and have little energy, poor health, low self-confidence, and just feel generally bad, then that trickles down to your family.
I find that when I am exercising regularly (which I do now and, though it’s taken years, is now a habit that I hate to miss in my day), I am happier, I snap less at my kids, I feel good about myself, I have more energy, and am just a better mom.
The thing is, and I’m going to toss you some real talk right now, your kids deserve a happy and healthy mom. None of us can guarantee how long we’ll have on this earth but, don’t you want to spend as much time with your kids as possible? And wouldn’t you do anything you could to make that happen? Then you need to find a way to fit exercise into your life and take care of your health. For you, for them, for the grandkids you’ll hopefully get to be around for, and the pictures taken of memories that you aren’t hiding in because you hate the way you look.
How to find time to workout
When it comes to working out, you need to decide what you need and how you want it to happen. I personally, haven’t stepped foot in a gym in years and love working out at home. Some people need to leave the house to get that extra motivation to get it done. Determine the type of person you are, be okay with it (because you don’t have to be like anyone else), and come up with a routine that fits that.
If you need alone time and want the gym to be your sanctuary, then go for it! I coach and talk to so many moms that tell me they’d love to workout at home like me but really need to get out of the house, have interactions with people, and get time alone. If that’s you… go for it!
Find a gym that has a daycare included so that you truly can feel at ease. It can be pretty tough to find childcare for just an hour or two to go to the gym each day but, if your gym has a daycare center then you’re kids get interaction, which they need, and you get the time to workout. The first place I’d recommend checking out is your local YMCA. Not only do they have great rates but you can get family packages, which includes childcare, classes, swimming and something for the whole family.
If you’re going to leave the house to workout, make sure you pick a time in the day that works and makes the most sense to you. You don’t want to go when you’ll be cutting it too close to nap and fearing cranky littles or the dreaded car nap. We have a 2-hour chunk in our mornings that is our only time where we can leave the house to do anything without someone napping so if it were me, I’d make sure that we left for the gym then.
Get yourself prepared the night before so that you don’t waste any time. If you know that you have 2 hours to hit the gym after one of the kiddos naps but before the next nap (which is our schedule), take 5 minutes the night before and lay out your workout clothes and pack your diaper and gym bag. If you bring bags for the kids with activities for them, make sure they are packed along with any water cups and snacks. This way, as soon as the kids are up and your window to workout begins, you’re not wasting 10-15 minutes packing things up. If you can pack the bags when they are sleeping, you can get it done super fast since you’ll have limited distractions.
Make sure you also sleep in your workout clothes to save a step and have any shower stuff packed. Many gyms have showers you can use so, you can grab a quick one before you pick up the kids and be on your way!
Working out at Home
Working out at home is my jam. I get to wear whatever I want, get all sweaty and not care, try moves I would never do in public, and get my groove on to some great dance workouts all while looking pretty embarrassing. I also don’t have to worry about commuting or taking the kids anywhere and can be flexible if they are fussy.
That being said. It’s not easy. Getting my daily workout in at home takes planning and a system that it’s taken us a few months to really get the hang of. But, once you get the routine it can also be fun.
My kids LOVE workout time and a tantrum normally happens on the weekends when I go to workout in our home gym alone since my husband is home. I get to be an example of health to them and they get to join if they want. I always invite my 11 year old stepson to workout with me and, though he almost always says no, the other day he asked if I could help him train for basketball and my heart swelled up with excitement.
My first suggestion is to find a workout you love. I use Beachbody On Demand and have for the past few years. I used Beachbody workouts to lose 70 pounds before I had my kids, the 50 I gained with my daughter, during both my pregnancies and currently using it to stay healthy and drop the baby weight after my son.
There are so many workouts out there that you can pick but, here is the thing… if you don’t love it, you won’t do it. In the past few years, I did some soul searching when it came to workouts and decided that just because everyone else was trying the newest workout, didn’t mean I had to. I love to stretch out of my comfort zone and try new things but, if I don’t like doing a workout, I just pick something else.
Now, at first you might not like any workouts because working out isn’t the most fun all the time (particularly when you’re out of shape), but I guarantee there is something out there for you! When I was pregnant and my goals were different, I did some home dance workouts or yoga because I knew it would make me feel good. Find what lights you up, challenges you, and makes you happy and I swear, over time exercising will become a part of your lifestyle.
You can also find something that your kids love to do can include them. Another reason that I love Beachbody on Demand is that they have a kids channel but my toddler loves doing the dance workouts with me, climbing on my back for pushups, and kickboxing is her fav! Your workouts with them may not be as hardcore as before, but remember DONE IS BETTER THAN PERFECT!
You can always workout at home during nap time if your kids still nap. I choose to do it when they are awake because I use naptimes to work but, you can make that your time to take care of you, grab a shower, and then get to all the other tasks. The cleaning and laundry can wait… your self care cannot!
How to include your kids in your workout block
My first tip is to find an area of your house that is the most conducive to you getting the workout done, not being frustrated with interruptions, and sets them up for success. I tend to do more bodyweight exercises than weights because, when I do have to use our gym and bring the kids in there, they are ALL over the place. On those days, I put my 9 month old in the pack and play and my daughter plays with her kitchen set or easel that I’ve left in there but, since there is so much more to look at and touch, it’s normally more of a headache for me.
I choose to workout in our playroom on most days. Their stuff is there, they can watch a TV show, and it’s baby proofed. That does mean I have to pick and choose workouts that fit in that space and don’t have weights but I”m okay with that. It helps to keep them contained so grab a good baby gate or pack and play so that you know that they aren’t trying to escape or eat little things off the floor!
Keep them occupied
Next, figure out how much time your kids can hang before they don’t want to play independently anymore. My kids (2.5 years old and 9 months) have a sweet spot of 35 minutes. If I do anything longer than that, someone is fussy or needs more attention from me, so I try to average a 30-minute workout.
30 minutes is also about the time of one kids show so yes… this is when they get to watch TV. The baby could care less about TV but my toddler loves it so, during a workout, she gets a show. I do try to do my best to limit the amount of TV she watches and besides working out and when I do her hair, we keep a mostly tech-free day.
There are some super cute shows out there that don’t include too much sass (my biggest pet peeve with shows today!) and the kiddos love!
- Little Baby Bum (Netflix)
- Owlegories (Amazon Prime)
- Super Why (Netflix)
- Daniel Tiger (Amazon Prime)
- Doc Mcstuffins, Nellie the Princess Knight, Sofia the First and anything about a girl show isn’t just a damsel in distress
- Sesame Street (PBS)
- Word Party (Netflix)
We could go on about some other shows we love but I always give her two choices of what she wants to watch and, if I’m being real, this keeps her attention long enough for me to workout in the playroom and her not to attack or take all of her brother’s toys so he gets fussy.
Oh, and I have to toss in a disclaimer because maybe you’re rolling my eyes at the fact that I let them watch TV so I can workout. You need to take care of you too mama, your kids are fine with a little TV while you do so, let go of the guilt, and stop judging any mom who does things you might not *drops mic*
The best tip I can give you for working out at home is to be prepared before you begin. I always make sure that we have a few things handy.
My 2.5 year old is recently potty trained so I make sure she tries to go before I workout. I also keep the portable potty in the playroom so, if she has to go, she can go there. But be careful… one time I did not stop my workout to empty it and my 9 month old pushed it over… ONTO ME during my pushups.
I also make sure all the toys are there for the baby and he has plenty of things to chew on, bang together, or build.
Also, make sure you get the milk cup filled up and have a snack ready so that you don’t have to stop. I workout pretty much right after breakfast and it never fails that my toddler will ask for a snack at least once during my workout.
You’ll also want to make sure that you pick the right time to workout so that you aren’t dealing with too fussy of kiddos. My son normally naps at 9:30 so I aim to workout at 8:15 am which gives me enough time to workout without him being fussy because it’s too close to nap. On the days when he gets up early and his nap is at 8 or 8:30, I put him down first and then workout with just me and my toddler.
Adjust your expectations
There are times when working out either at home or in the gym just doesn’t go as planned. Kids need things. Life gets in the way. You may have to stop and modify and hold your kid during that last set of squats, let them play horse with you while you do pushups, or sing “if you’re happy and you know it” through the last 10 minutes of your kickboxing workout.
That’s mom life.
But you’re a better mom for just trying to take care of yourself than saying “well it might not be perfect so I shouldn’t do anything”. 30 minutes of your day will go by super fast with you guys just sitting around playing or watching a show, so why not get your workout in at the same time?
This week, I challenge you to find 30 minutes or less each day to do SOMETHING active with them. And if none of these suggestions work for you, put them in the stroller and take a walk! Something is better than nothing and DONE is better than perfect!
Know that it is possible to workout with kids but you have to create a routine, be prepared, realize it might not be perfect, and do your best. Your kids should be one of the reasons you take care of your body and health, not an excuse not to!
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