My exercise routine has changed dramatically after having kids. Gone are the days when I would wake up early, head to the gym, and come to home to enjoy a shower and breakfast before going to work. Since I am home alone with the girls every morning, I can’t leave the house like I used to. So I’ve had to get creative with my workouts. I needed to switch up my routine, change the way I structure my day, and adapt to a new lifestyle. But exercise is a huge priority for me – more so now that I’m a mama – so I had to make it work.
So, you have littles at home and limited time. How do you fit in your fitness? Well, here’s what has worked for me and some suggestions that might work for you:
- Exercise at home before the kids wake up or during naps: Yes, not ideal if your kids wake up super early. Luckily, my kids sleep till 7 or 7:30 am so if I wake up between 5 and 5:30 am I can get a workout in and shower before they wake up. Oh, and I am a morning person…that helps.
When the girls were infants and I was nursing a lot, I would sleep later and squeeze a workout in during their naps. Many workouts were spent next to the baby monitor praying they’d stay asleep long enough for me to finish my set.
If you want to work out at home it’s a good idea to invest in some free weights, exercise bands, a stability ball, and a mat. (Check out this article on how to set up a home gym.)
Some people can exercise after their kids go to bed. When the girls went to sleep earlier I would do that, but honestly that was rare. I am pretty much done at the end of the day and can’t get myself to do much more of anything after I finally put them to bed. Couch->wine->bed.
- If you work outside the home, exercise during lunch: If you need to get a workout in, this small window will save your sanity and prevent you from skipping the gym. I joined the Y down the street from my office and it takes only a few minutes to walk there. I will often workout during lunch. At first I hated it. It felt awkward. I was underestimating the time it would take me to change, shower (if needed), and head back to work. I now have a great routine and it works well for me. If I have a working lunch or another appointment during the day, I will workout in the morning or take a rest day. You do what you can.
- Exercise with your kids: When the girls were small I would put them in the jogging stroller and run everywhere. Pushing a stroller with two children up and down hills is no joke. They enjoyed it, too. I mean just look at their faces. If you google “stroller workouts” you can find a ton of exercises to do. And there are often local mommy boot camp classes that you and your littles can attend.
Lifting kids up and down, chasing them around, etc. is also a workout. You can often catch me doing a farmer’s walk holding a 25 lb. toddler in each arm. Incorporating your kids into your routine is a great way to get some movement in while spending time with them. Plus, you’re showing them the importance of exercise early on.
- Weekend warriors: You know these people. You may be one of them. You cram all of your exercise into your weekend because you want to make the most of your time. After training for marathons and other long distance races, I have been conditioned to think Saturdays are reserved for your hardest workouts and Sunday is a rest day. I am not currently training, so I usually go to an Orangetheory class or take hot yoga on the weekend. I love the group setting and it’s a good time to meet friends or other fitness enthusiasts in a fun environment.
- Enlist help: If exercise is a priority for you then make sure your family is on board with your commitment to health. They should support you in what you want to do and help you carve out that time for yourself. I am super lucky my husband truly understands how important exercise is and how much I enjoy it. He watches the kids when I take a class on the weekends and has always been encouraging. Have a family member, friend, or babysitter watch the kids. Or, consider bringing your children to a drop in daycare. Many gyms have on site childcare, too. It’s a win-win.
I hope this gives you some ideas for your own routine. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what works for you!