Finding time for fitness
You're mama; and in some cases your kiddos depend on you for food and nourishment, sleep, schedule, school, transportation, fun, cleanliness, discipline... and that only lists some of the things your kids (not to mention other people in your life) are expecting from you. You're supposed to be a reservoir of energy and spunk to get these things done throughout each week. Surprisingly, adding in another item to your to-do list can and will help you: Exercise.
Finding the time and motivation to work out can be a challenge in and of itself, especially for busy mothers (meaning "all mothers"). Usually when a mother has a chance to spend time on/by herself, it's probably to rest or do something she finds relaxing (read a book, knit, phone time--you fill in the blank) rather than do something that's probably going to make her sweat.
Here are some tips I've found helpful in finding the time to tank up on energy via exercise:
House chores can wait. I focus on getting the absolute necessary things done. Food is first on that list. We all need to be fed, clothed and cleaned before we can get on with a good day. Can vacuuming wait? Cleaning the bathroom? I do laundry in between circuits in a circuit training workout. Prioritize your priorities; redundant, I know. What's the most pressing need on the to-do list? What can wait? Once I get in a workout, I am more energized. For me, grocery shopping and errands are better achieved after a workout than before, depending on the day.
Find the motivation. What's it going to take to get motivated to exercise? Other people? A certain schedule? Find a workout partner, if that's what's going to get you started. Meetup.com is a great place to start. In my area, there is a Meetup group of mothers who meet at certain places at certain times to work out together and with their kids. For me, my motivation was my lack of physical ability and my energy level. I was tired of being tired and tired of being unfit; I wanted to be able to easily do the things I'm interested in! A tool in keeping me motivated has been dailymile.com. It's like Facebook for fitness freaks! I love it: you can log your workouts and get encouragement from others. Each week you receive a training report on all your workouts and mileage!
Include the kids. I know, I know, sometimes we just want a break from the kids, not an extra thing to do with them! But seriously, I love watching my six year old daughter knock out some pushups (especially inverted ones)! When it's time for a workout, the kids and I head to the garage where my husband and I have home gym set up (more on that later).
Make it a family thing. Make time on the weekends (or whenever the family's schedule allows) for an active family outing. It could be a good hike, a mountain biking trip or a swim. My family has found an awesome system of mild trails, perfect for family mountain biking. We try to go there regularly when time and weather permit it.
Provide a distraction. Set them up for some activities near your workout station. Books, TV, toys, etc. In our home gym, we have special toys that stay in the garage just so I can get in a workout--a large riding toy (given to us by an awesome neighbor) and a pop-out crawl tunnel (thank you, Goodwill!) make for some good distractions from mama for the wee one year old. A Razor scooter for the six year old (who also does gymnastics on our homemade TRX system). Add to that some fun music and you're set to begin to sweat!
The husband, babysitter or friend. When I need me time, I'm all about depending on the hubs to provide some daddy-time with the kids. I usually save this for my longer runs or bike rides though, since I'm not a huge fan of pushing the jogging stroller for those runs and I'd rather not have a 1 year old on the back of my bike if I don't have to. Now, this could be someone else too; a babysitter or friend who wants to come hang out while you do _____ work out.
Take it to the playground! Some days, everyone needs out of the house. Meet a friend and her kids at the playground and have a workout sesh together there! This is my kiddos' favorite plus the playground is full of different options for getting in a killer workout! Pull ups on the monkey-bars, chair dips on the picnic table, push-ups, planks and mountain climbers in the grass! Get creative!
Take it outside. Some days, getting to the playground isn't practical and staying indoors isn't feasible (and why should it be when it's nice outside!?). An alternative is to take it outside. We have a fenced-in backyard and a frisbee-loving pooch, both of which provide an excellent distraction so mama can get in a workout (the dogs love this option too). Added benefit of the yard: dirt. My kids love playing in dirt and it'll keep them entertained for a long time. Have outdoor specific toys? Bubbles? Bingo.
Take it easy. It doesn't have to make you sweat in order to get results. Some days, all that's needed is a walk! My 6 year old rides her bike or scooter and I either strap the little guy on my back in the Ergo carrier or push him in the stroller (some days he falls asleep!) Whether you choose to go for miles or minutes, power walk or stroll, it's up to you.
Find what works and stick with it. Just keep doing it! It's been four months since I started my exercise routine and it has literally changed my life. Energy, cheerfulness and patience levels have sky-rocketed, a huge plus when it comes to being a mom! (Plus I've dropped 3 pant sizes; what's not to love about that?!) Give yourself 2 full weeks of an exercise schedule, stick to it and you be the judge of seeing it it's worth it. I guarantee it is!
What are your tips for being an active mom? How do you balance motherhood and fitness?