When I started my Month of Self-Care back in January, I realized that there was only so much that new clothes and make-up could do to make me look and feel better. If I wanted to be at my best, I needed to get in shape. But how in the world would I find the time?
Now I run three days a week. I take a swimming class with my husband on one of my off days and go on a long walk with my son another.
It turns out that moms can find time for exercise. It helps to have your partner’s support, but with a little creativity, anything is possible. Here are some ideas that have worked for me.
Find another friend who’s looking to keep fit and barter for babysitting. Or, better yet, help your partner get some exercise by trading with him. I run on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings while my husband clocks some extra time with our son.
Find a gym with childcare.
Leaving your child at a babysitter you don’t know can be a little scary—and expensive. But fitness centers while childcare are still a good option for a lot of parents. Many YMCAs have free or low-cost childcare programs.
Make date night exercise night.
This summer, my husband and I have spent our weekly date night money on a sitter for an evening swim class. We leave early enough to go for a long walk first, and we really enjoy the no pressure, completely relaxed nights we’ve spent together. There are a lot of ways to enjoy “couple time” and burn a few calories along the way:
- Take a hike.
- Go on a long bike ride together.
- Treat yourselves to an evening or rowing or paddle-boating.
Exercise while your kids are asleep.
When it’s too hot or cold for me to run in the mornings, I like to do an exercise DVD while my toddler naps. (I find ballet workouts both invigorating and relaxing. Plus I feel so elegant for the rest of the day!) My husband sometimes goes running after bedtime—that way he doesn’t miss a moment of his precious time with our son.
Exercise while your kids exercise.
My son and I take a music and movement class together once a week. While I’m skeptical of the teacher’s claim that parents can burn 300 calories a session, I am winded and sweating by the end of class. Our joint swimming class is a little less taxing, but by the time he can take solo swimming classes at four, I can spend thirty minutes swimming laps. Get creative:
- Buy a baby yoga DVD. With newborns, baby yoga is more fun than you’d probably expect!
- Run around the field while your child is at sports practice.
- Find a circuit-training workout you can use at the playground.
Build your workout around your kids.
At least for me, exercise is more physically and mentally satisfying without my son in tow. But that isn’t always an option. A few ideas?:
- Use a jogging stroller or baby trailer for your bike.
- Walk instead of drive whenever you can.
- Take evening walks as a family. 30 minutes of brisk walking is still effective exercise!
- Get your kids mini-exercise equipment. My son accidentally broke my exercise band in half and viola—now he can “stretch” while I do instead of jumping on me.
Carving out a little “me time” is hard—even when it’s for something as important as your health. Just keep in mind that a happier, healthier you is a worthwhile gift for your husband and your children.
How do you fit fitness into your life?