I finally “got around” to working out again when my second child was 18 months old, after taking a break for a little more than 2 years. Part of the reason it took so long for me to get back on board with fitness was my own confusion after becoming a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM): how could I work out regularly when I have two children with me all the time? It’s been a little over 2 years now and I’ve developed several sneaky ways for sneaking in fitness. To save you the time and experimentation, here are my hacks for working out with kids in tow!
1. At home workout videos
While this is the most-touted and perhaps glaringly obvious choice, I have to caution that this option only works long-term for those who are extremely self-motivated. If we work all day in the home, it is extremely difficult to snap out of “work mode” long enough to commit to exercise. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve put on workout clothes, set up the DVD, and then spent an hour doing laundry and cleaning the kitchen instead. Then of course, there is the random child walking in and interrupting, the baby crying, etc. etc., etc. Workout videos are great in a pinch, but they probably should not be the mainstay of your exercise routine, because they are unreliable at best for a SAHM. If you are up for it, my recommendations would be: Cody App for iPhone/iPad (which allows you to purchase as many specific workouts as you want) and Sara Ivanhoe yoga DVDs.
2. Bring the kids into the workout
There are several types of fitness workouts specifically designed to include your younger children. For organized instructor-led workouts, search for Mommy & Me yoga, Stroller Strides, and Baby Boot Camps. These classes work best if you have a child under the age of 3 who will stay in one place on the ground or in the stroller for short periods of time. A cheaper options is to walk or run with your child in the stroller, which is free and very flexible when it comes to time! Unfortunately, once your child reaches about 3.5 years old, they aren’t usually interested in these integrative forms of exercise anymore and will start to throw fits and become truly difficult to contain, so you’ll have to switch at that point or you’re basically wasting your money.
3. Fitness facilities with childcare
You’d actually be surprised how many gyms, yoga studios, and boutique studios offer babysitting. Make sure you’ve checked the studio web site for these offerings. If you are in North Dallas/Richardson, the YMCA locations in this area are known to have great babysitting, as well as several of the nearby 24 Hour Fitness locations. I have been told by Valerie that LifeTime Fitness in Plano has an excellent kids care area. Yoga studios offering babysitting include We Yogis in Dallas and Samatone Yoga in Addison. Many yoga studios also offer kids yoga classes at the same time as adults classes for children 3 years old and up.
4. Small boutique studios that are tolerant of children
If you have an ongoing relationship with a small boutique studio, they’ll often allow you to take a child into a corner of the workout room or the glassed-in waiting area (where you can see them) with an iPad or book to read. This works best for children over the age of 4 years. We have several moms at our studio who do this and it works perfectly fine!
5. Lean on your partner – early morning workouts
Early morning workouts are best maximized by taking group fitness classes specifically designed to pack an efficient workout into an hour or less! There are hundreds of 6am classes at gyms, boot-camp style workouts, yoga, Pilates…the entire world of fitness is open to you, if only you are willing to be there by 6am and you’ll get home by 7am to allow your partner to go to work! Will your significant other cuddle the baby or change a diaper the exact same way you do? Maybe not, but that’s what’s special about his or her bond with your kids. It’s different. And they need that time together, just like you need your alone time. Let go of your inner control freak, go to bed a little earlier the night before, and start the day energized and refreshed from your workout! Warning: you might end up foregoing a shower and being in your workout clothes all day. Utilize nap times for showers!
There are probably more options that I’m missing right now, but the point is that you keep fitness in mind as one of your goals. Work to fit it into your schedule where you can, and let it be something that you do for you, with or without your kids. They will see your commitment and internalize health as something important as they grow older.