Fitting in Fitness When You Have Kids

With children at home — especially young kids — it’s difficult to find time to fit in workouts. But it’s possible to make time for your health! Here are some easy, creative ways to reach your fitness goals and be a great parent at the same time.

Make it a Family Affair

Instead of sneaking off to the gym, why not get your kids involved in planning a fun family workout? Use exercise cards or dice to create a workout with jumping jacks, burpees, mountain climbers, pretend jump rope, plank contests, crunches and sit-ups, says Shannon Strzynski, fitness supervisor for the Monon Community Center. “If possible, plan the workout at a specific time and make it a part of your daily routine. After your workout, hydrate and consider healthy meal prep!”

Some of the best cardio workouts can happen while interacting with your children. Dance parties are a fun way to get the whole family involved! YouTube has so many options for dance workouts, and you can even search for ‘Just Dance game videos’ to find choreographed dances to your favorite songs.

Exercise doesn’t need to be complicated — adding more intentional movement throughout the day and weeks add up. When you’re on the floor playing with your little one, hold a plank. Add some extra lunges or squats when you’re bending down to pick up toys or some bicep curls with those heavy grocery bags when you’re bringing them in.

Find Accountability

One of the most important factors in sticking with a fitness plan is finding accountability. Call a friend to workout with and invite them over once or twice a week. A group exercise class can provide you with camaraderie to stick with your goals year-round. For instance, The Monon Community Center offers more than 100 weekly group fitness classes ranging from yoga to cycling and strength training to cardio, at all different times of the day, plus childcare for kids 2-12.

“If you’re a new mom, look for a personal trainer or someone that is knowledgeable about proper workouts and form, recommends fitness coach Danielle Andrews. “Postpartum is an incredibly important time of recovery and doing the proper exercises is key to a full recovery.”

Set Goals and Rewards

Want to make time for fitness? Writing down your goals is a powerful way to attain them! You can motivate yourself by setting healthy rewards. For example, if you complete a 3-mile run, you can book a massage. Or if you squat your goal weight, treat yourself to new shoes. Make it simple, fun and for you.

Schedule it just like you would a doctor’s appointment. “You have to take care of yourself so you can take care of your little ones,” Strzynski says. “Prioritize making time for fitness with a walk, bike ride, a YouTube video, or a fitness class.” Exercise is important for your physical health but also your mental and emotional health. This time every day will help you stay fit, healthy and refreshed to give your family the very best of yourself.

Break it Up

You do not have to do a workout at one time, Andrews says. “If you break it up and do 10 minutes just three times a day, that’s 30 minutes of working out,” she explains. Naptime can also be a great time to fit in a workout at home when you have small children. “When my kids were really little, I’d turn on a show that I liked to watch while doing squats, lunges, pushups and planks.” 

You can also fit in extra fitness while putting laundry or groceries away — take smaller loads to increase your steps. “You don’t need fancy machines or weights,” Andrews says. “All you need is your body and a few minutes throughout the day to make a difference in your physical and mental health.”

Wake Up Early

Setting an alarm to exercise before the kids wake up is a great motivator. “I personally love getting up early and getting in my workout before the kids are out of bed,” Andrews says. “It gives you an opportunity to take care of yourself before you have to take care of everyone else. There is a great sense of accomplishment when you’ve gotten up and been productive and cared for yourself first! 

Andrews hosts a fitness BootCamp at the College Avenue Public Library that meets three days a week at 6 a.m. “We’re all busy moms,” she explains. “Some stay home and others work full-time or part-time. But we all get our workout in together and have a great time!” 

But if the morning is not for you, don’t be dismayed! Parenting demands a lot and requires flexibility for the constantly changing needs of this season of life. So simply exercise when and where you can, and give yourself plenty of grace.

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