Finding time to exercise is one of the greatest fitness challenges we busy mommies face. As I tell my children whenever they’ve lost something and expect me to magically produce it for them, “It won’t find you. You have to go find it.” The same thing applies to working out. The time to make it happen won’t find you. You have to be deliberate about hunting it down.
If You Can’t Find the Time, Make It!
Making the time for something important you want to do means you have set aside something else you want to do that you have decided is less important. We’re all given the same 24 hours a day. No one gets any more or any less. It’s what we choose to do with those hours that matters. If we aren’t intentional about assigning our time to work on our priorities, then it will mysteriously evaporate in cyberspace or in front of the TV.
The best way to get in shape is not to get too far out of shape in the first place. Yeah, well. I personally didn’t do so well at that and I found my perfect excuse in multiple pregnancies. I wish I had stayed more active during pregnancy and, at least, made some effort at fitness once the baby was born. Of course, that’s much easier said than done. Morning sickness, bed rest, C-sections, and sleepless nights all compound the problem and conspire against us to keep us from fighting for our fitness.
Workout Options for Busy Moms
The way I see it, a busy mom has 3 options:
Exercise while your kids are asleep.
- Early in the morning—This is super challenging if you’ve been up all night with a baby or sick child, but once the littles are sleeping through the night, it’s very rewarding to get at least one thing for yourself done before spending the entire day meeting other people’s needs.
- Late at night—You may already be too exhausted, but then again, you may be awake anyway. I used to do crunches on the floor beside my son’s crib while I waited to see if he was going to go back to sleep. No point in going to bed if I was just going to have to get up again!
- During naps—This is assuming you only have one child or you can get them to all sleep at the same time, which I HIGHLY recommend. It’s worth fighting for Mamma!
Exercise with your kids.
- You’re setting a great example!
- Bonus—kids can add extra resistance to your workout!
- Pushing a loaded stroller is a great exercise, especially outdoors. Bonus points for a double stroller! Double bonus points if you come home to find a moose guarding your front door. (Yep, true story!)
- Take your kids to a park or playground and workout while they play.
- I got the workouts that are linked above from Pinterest. There are tons more ideas about how moms can work out with their kids.
Get childcare while you work out.
- Trade with a friend.
- Get a gym membership that includes childcare.
- Give the kids a playdate with Daddy in evenings or on weekends. This is a win for everybody!
I have finally found what works for me. I love to use exercise DVDs at home.
- It saves me the time of driving to and from the gym.
- It saves me money on memberships and childcare.
- I get to shower at my own place instead of in a locker room.
- If I totally fail at an exercise, there’s no one to see me. It never happened.
My littles get to watch PBS on the other TV while I exercise. (PBS is a free babysitter I am not ashamed to use when necessary.) They know mommy works out every day and they just accept it as a normal part of their routine and mine. My favorite workouts are mixed martial arts combat for cardio and lots of weight lifting.
Squeeze it In
If you just can’t make the time to block off a half hour or so to work out, then squeeze it in. You can do 10 minutes at a time 2-3 times a day. There’s no rule that says you have to do it all at once. Here’s one example:
- In the morning—Start off with a quick workout to wake yourself up before you get ready for the day.
- Mid-day—Take a walk around the block after lunch.
- In the evening—Knock out a 10-minute ab workout before bed.
There are 100’s of great ideas for short workouts on the internet. Search Pinterest to find the one that works for you.
Sneak it In
If all else fails, try to sneak in exercise wherever you can.
Women (and men) used to get a great workout just doing their chores. Carrying the water, taking clothes to the river, hanging them on the clothesline, hoeing the garden, taking care of the farm animals, pulling the goat out of the flower bed . . . The whole day was one big workout born out of the necessity of providing for one’s family. They didn’t have to schedule exercise. It was already built into their day.
Try to think like a pioneer and build exercise into your day as much as possible. Instead of always taking the path of least resistance, how can you make your daily tasks more physically demanding?
We’ve all heard that we should take the stairs and park far away to incorporate more movement into our lives, but that’s just the beginning. Busy moms have SO MANY ways to add exercise to their crammed schedules.
- Play or run with your dog.
- Pace when you’re on the phone.
- If you’re blessed to have a house with stairs, jog up!
- Jog around the house while looking for your child’s lost shoe.
- Do curls with the infant seat while you’re waiting in line somewhere.
- Full laundry baskets are great for doing deadlift and rows to strengthen the back.
- Practice baby-wearing while housecleaning. You are guaranteed to be huffing by the end!
- Wrestle with your toddler—either for fun or to get them where they don’t want to go (you get a workout both ways).
- Keep a small hand-held weight at your desk and use it while you’re thinking or in between tasks. Or try a few of these ideas.
- Exercise while watching TV. TV is not just for couch potatoes! Make your favorite shows work for your fitness instead of against it.
- Let your youngster out of the shopping cart next time you go to the store then work up a sweat trying to chase him down and get him back in.
- Or use the plastic bags from Walmart as you unload the car. I’ve found I can get in a few extra reps just by holding my elbow at a right angle while I bring in the groceries rather than letting my arm hang straight at my side.
Fun Family Fitness:
It’s not all about us. Yes, we want to take care of ourselves, but we also want to teach our children this important life skill as well. Brainstorm how you can live a fit life with your family. Choose activities that keep you moving!
- Go for a hike.
- Play at the park.
- Climb a mountain.
- Go for a bike hike.
- Walk around the lake.
- Play sports with your kids.
- Have a family dance party.
- Throw and chase a Frisbee.
- Walk all over the zoo and see every animal.
- Run together at the track. This is great for all ages and skill levels. It’s round, so you may get lapped, but no one gets left behind!
These activities are especially good for you because most of them are outdoors, so you also get fresh air and Vitamin D. It’s great for your spirit too because you get to be out in God’s creation and praise Him for His wonderful works!
Fitness is More Fun with Friends!
A support system of other people who are also building stronger bodies is in an invaluable asset. We can challenge and motivate each other, while keeping ourselves accountable. We have buddies to share our victories with and friends to encourage us on the hard days.
Whether it’s fitness, or family, or faith; always run with those who are running the same direction you want to go. There are lots of ways to get connected with others who are motivated about exercising and not all of them are in person.
- Walk or run with a group of ladies at church, the mall, or in the neighborhood.
- Join an online challenge group. This was a great motivational way for me to get started and then I was motivated enough to continue on my own.
- I actually feel some degree of comradery with the trainers from my DVDs. I know it’s totally one-sided, but I’m an introvert so it works for me. I don’t feel pressured to talk to anyone.
- If you have a Fitbit or similar device, create challenges with your friends. I my groups of workout buddies made of people who are important to me, but don’t necessarily live near me.
- Partner up with your spouse. It’s great for your health and your relationship!
This is really just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many ways to exercise your body. Hopefully, this gets your juices flowing so you can think of ways to make time for your workout. The key is to find a way to move your body that you enjoy and do it consistently. It’s really that simple. You just have to give your excuses the boot to get going.
What excuses are you ready to say goodbye to?
What ideas do you have for fitting exercise into a packed schedule?
In the next post, I’ll address how to incorporate your spiritual health into your exercise.
Click here to find the links to all the posts in this series.
Next post in this series:
Week Four: Exercise Consistently
Part 3: Putting Your Christian Faith into Your Fitness