Making space for your health is one of those things that often gets put on the back burner when you have young kids, and it’s completely understandable. I mean, you’re exhausted, overworked, constantly caring for others, and exercise or cooking a healthy meal feels like the last thing you want to do when you get a second to yourself.
But what if I told you, that you don’t have to sacrifice all of your downtime or your health? And what if you knew if would actually help you more?
Still not convinced?
After my first son was born, I found myself feeling more weak and exhausted and more out of control of my life than ever before. I was exhausted from an overdue pregnancy that ended in a long and traumatic labor, and my son was born via cesarean section. My body felt broken, ripped apart, in pain, and soon I realized I was suffering from post-partum depression and anxiety.
But 6 months later, a friend helped me remember the power of diet and exercise and I fell back in love with fitness. Slowly, strength returned.
How did I fall in love with fitness? I just started doing it. I was determined, had a program, a daily schedule of when I would workout, and had accountability. Each of these pieces was crucial for me. No one can make you want to exercise, only you can decide and develop that inner motivation. I can inspire you and get you thinking, but determination is something you cultivate when you become stubborn about your goals and your ‘why’.
I found fitness programs I loved. I started with a program called Piyo, then Insanity, then completed the 21 Day Fix. I loved them all because they gave me varied workouts to do each day and there was a clear start and end date. Each program is very different, designed to help you lose weight and tone up, and helped me succeed. If you’d like to learn more about them, come chat with me about it. What kind of exercise do you enjoy doing? If you don’t like something about it, you won’t complete it. Maybe it’s dance, yoga, pilates, kick boxing, running, etc… Share below what is fun for you!
Accountability is the piece most people that I know lack. If no one is watching, will you stick with it? Having women who knew my goals, knew what I had decided to do, and were on a similar program, helped me to keep going. Not only was it convicting to have people check in on me, but they inspired me and I was able to inspire them. A mutually beneficial relationship is very motivating for me.
I’d love to try a little exercise. Will you do it with me? I know you’re not likely going to pull out a piece of paper and do this, so just mentally track with me, and then share your answers below. What are your top 5 reasons for not working out and/or eating healthy meals? And then, what are your top 5 reasons for getting fit? After you share below with me, write those 5 positive reasons for living a healthy lifestyle somewhere you can see daily. Try your mirror, or the refrigerator, or the TV.
When it comes to exhaustion from being a mom and working out, I have two things to share. First of all, REST. This is important. When scheduling your week, make a way for rest to happen. Prioritize your sleep, find quiet time, and be realistic. You can’t do it all Mama, but consider what you can do and what you can cut out so you can get some sleep. Second, exercise can help with your overall energy level– to a point. Exercise is proven to help you sleep better, improve your mood, and give you more energy. But if you are literally never getting a break, and your baby is colicky, and you aren’t sleeping a wink, then doing an intense HIIT workout for an hour a day is not going to help you. Something more restorative like yoga and walking, could benefit you in this season. Have you ever just stepped outside for a brisk walk to calm down, and then come home feeling much better and clear minded? I know I have. When my kiddo wouldn’t calm down, I’d put him in the stroller or the ergo, and go for a walk, and even if he didn’t fall asleep and relax, I would usually feel better after about 10 minutes. Endorphin’s are truly beneficial in this stage of life and we have to help ourselves to them.
Now, here’s the part that does take some creativity: What to do with your kids while you workout. I’ve created a list of 21 ideas for you that don’t involve a gym membership, and hopefully the simplest options like working out while they sleep will work for you. If not, I’ve got plenty more ideas and a few mommy and me workouts coming your way this month.
- Workout while they sleep: This can be early morning, nap-time, or after bedtime
- Independent Playtime: I taught my kids how to play by themselves for short periods of time. Check out this blog for how you can too.
- TV: This isn’t everyone’s favorite, but it works when your child is a little older.
- Busy Bags: Our first born wasn’t into focused play time without my help, but some kids love these! You can find endless ideas on Pinterest for age appropriate busy bags.
- Involve Them: This one takes practice and patience, but many babies and toddlers can get used to you working out with them around.
- Go Outside: Take your workout outdoors and make it more play based.
- Play-dough: If you have a toddler, they could sit near you and play with play dough.
- Toss A Ball: Whether you have a baby or toddler, most young children love playing with a ball. You can either make the game of catch extra physical for you, or roll a ball with your baby while you get your workout in.
- Give Them Weights: My son loves getting to use special equipment, so he thinks it’s fun to use really small 3 pound weights or even cans of beans to workout with.
- Toddler Trainer: If your toddler is on the older side, you can have them tell you what to do, or pull pop-sickle sticks out that have the specific moves you should do. This gives them a job and makes them feel important.
- Squat and Tickle: This is a classic move, but babies and toddlers just love it. Get some squats in with your little one and tickle them each time you squat down.
- Babywear and Modify: For the little ones who need some extra cuddles, go ahead and put them in your favorite wrap or carrier (make sure you have them in a secure hold), and modify your workout. Make sure it’s low impact though, you don’t want to be jumping around with them on you.
- Ten Minute Chunks: Spread your program out throughout the day into smaller circuits to make it easier for you and your children to handle.
- Snacks: When they are little you can put them in their high chair with snacks and get your workout in. Toddlers might be able to sit at the table or near you with a snack and allow you to have a break.
- Sensory Play: Whether your kids are playing with a DIY water tray and scoops, or sand and dump trucks, sensory play is a great way to keep them entertained and playing freely. Just make sure they are close to you, so you can keep them safe.
- Garage Workout: If you have a large open garage, this could be a good place to throw some toys out and let them run, while you workout. Just make sure the space is safe from and tools or dangerous objects.
- Hopscotch: Create a hopscotch outside or with tape inside and get some plyometrics in while playing with your toddler. They won’t even know you’re working out!
- Chase: My toddler loves chase and we play this all day long! Head outside or into a large room to get more of a cardio workout in. Or change it up and do lunges while pretending to be a big dinosaur. Make it silly and get some extra laughs in for a bonus ab workout.
- Jogging Stroller: I love our BOB jogging stroller and it’s worth every penny.
- Freeze Dance: Really get into a silly song with your little one and when you pause the music do a deep squat. This will be fun for them, teach them to stop and go, and get your heart rate up.
- Kids Yoga: Many babies will naturally start doing yoga poses like downward dog. Check out some cool kids yoga moves and start teaching them how to workout with you!