Whether you’re a full time mum or trying to juggle work and kids, making time for exercise can seem like a very distant notion. As a parent, your goals seem to get pushed aside. Caring for your family, housework, a job, marriage and cooking healthy meals are close to the only priorities in your life, and anything else becomes a long list of “selfish pleasures” – including your news year’s resolution to exercise more.
But, most mums can easily agree that the precious time you do manage to get for yourself isn’t selfish at all – it’s very well earned, and needed! That cherished five minutes when you can put your feet up and have a coffee becomes your moment, but it’s not always enough.
Convincing yourself you have no time for exercise is easy; actually making it happen is the challenge. If you think it’s impossible to juggle motherhood, work and exercise though – think again! We check out some great tips to help you get back into shape and make some time for you.
1. Consider Your Goals
Defining your goals will help to consider what exercise is best for you. What are you exercising for? It may be to stay healthy and fit, lose weight or simply to have some active time doing something you enjoy. When you know your motive for wanting to exercise, it’ll help decide what work-out or physical activity will allow you to reach your goal.
Once your type of exercise has been chose, you can make it into a routine and find out what’s the best time for you to exercise. For example, if early morning is the best time for you consider a walk or gentle yoga class. If you’re an afternoon person, a Zumba class could work best.
If you haven’t exercised for a long time, be realistic about your goals. There is no use jumping straight into an overzealous routine that’ll leave you feeling too exhausted for the rest of the week. If you try to commit to a routine that isn’t accurate to your current lifestyle, you’ll be less likely to stick to it. Instead, start slow and build up to something more challenging when you’re ready.
2. Home Exercise
Whilst exercising at home has the benefits of offering convenience, it also requires the discipline to motivate yourself to stay on track. It does however, also allow you to also kill two birds with one stone and help to reject your inner couch potato.
The advantage of home exercise means you can still enjoy the guilty pleasure of watching your favourite soap opera on TV and catch up episodes, whilst going for a 30 minute run on the treadmill. Investing into quality fitness equipment will ensure you get your gym workout in the comfort of your home while your little one is sleeping or playing next to you in the lounge.
Depending on your goals and schedule, you may like to consider a treadmill or exercise bike, or even something simpler like weights, steppers or yoga mats. A few fitness DVDs or having a look on the internet can motivate you with some routines you can try at home.
3. Getting the Kids Involved
There is no better way to set time aside for exercise than actually getting your kids involved too. Not only will it get them out of the house for a while, but depending on their age, it can wear them out for another nap leaving more relax time for you.
Exercising with children can be super fun, whether it’s something as simple as an hour walk in the morning while they’re asleep in the pram or getting the whole family involved together. Pre and post dinner walks altogether can encourage some good catch up time and help unwind after a long day.
If you have a dog, this is an easy way to get you and the kids out to the park for a run around (but make sure you walk down, not drive!) While you’re at the park, join your kids on the monkey bars too – this is a great upper body workout and you’re young ones will love the fact you’re joining in on the fun.
4. Walk and Talk
If the work you do involves being on the phone heaps, how about buying some earphones and going for a walk whilst talking business? It doesn’t always have to be at your desk and if you can schedule 30 minutes a day to walk and talk it’s a great excuse to get out of the office or house for a breather.
5. Gym-Based Childcare
Whilst there are debates whether gym-based childcares are effective or not, it can be a huge help when you find the right one. Most require you to book your children in a few days before so this can be hard when you have some spontaneous free time for a session.
Depending on the age of your children check with the gym childcare staff what they do and don’t do while you’re exercising. Some places will page you when they need a nappy change which can defeat the purpose of your hour time to yourself, whilst others will only contact you if there is an emergency.
If you have an exercise friend with small children too, this can be the perfect opportunity to have the kids in the crèche together to play with someone they are familiar with too whilst you guys squeeze in a quick gym session for yourselves.
6. Schedule and Routine
This is an important one for parents. Time is a valuable, valuable thing when you have children and for most there are only small windows of opportunities to ‘book something in’. This is why an exercise schedule is vital to keep you and your little ones in routine.
It doesn’t have to be extensive, just a committed plan to when and what you’re going to do for your physical activity each week. Start with something that is easy to work with, and makes changes to either your schedule or activity as you find out what works for you and your family and what doesn’t.
7. The Little Things
Incorporating the little things into your daily lives can go a long way, regardless of whether you have been able to make time for the bigger exercise activities or not.
How many times have you circled around a shopping car park trying to try and find the closest entry spot? Spare yourself the stress and put your little one in the pram and stroll over instead! If you miss those nights of going out dancing with you friends, why not put on a classic song, grab your children and dance around the lounge room! What a way to burn calories and have some fun too!
Earnest Parenting: help for parents who want to be healthy.