Whether you’re a working parent or stay-at-home parent, your days are packed full. From work meetings to PTA bake sales and soccer practices, you’re probably running yourself ragged, right?
As parents, we often feel like we’re burning the candle at both ends. With a seemingly never-ending to-do list looming over our heads, how can we also stay on top of our fitness routines? How can we maintain our muscles while also making time to tuck our toddlers in at night?
I’m not going to lie: managing fitness and parenting responsibilities is not easy. It takes dedication, flexibility, and a little bit of luck. But with some pre-planning, you can be both super athlete and super Mom.
DO Workout in Short Bursts
If you’re in the thick of it – we’re talking three kids under the age of five, with mountains of laundry and dirty diapers for days – you’re going to need to give yourself some grace. Instead of setting a goal for 90 minutes solid of intense cardio and weightlifting, squeeze in mini-sessions whenever you find the time. Buy a few essential pieces of home workout equipment and use them in small intervals throughout the day.
Have 10 minutes before the kids wake up? Do some squats and run the stairs. Twenty minutes at nap time? Do a YouTube HIIT workout or squeeze in a quick yoga session. Fifteen minutes between dinner and bath time, while your partner has them focused on Paw Patrol? Go for a quick run.
Any activity is better than no activity, so squeeze it in whenever you can.
DON’T Make Excuses
This one is tough, especially for the weary working Mom, who needs ten more hours in her day. But when you make excuses not to work out, the only person you hurt is yourself. Self-care is the most important care. It’s just like those oxygen masks on an airplane: you have to take care of yourself first before you can assist others.
Investing in yourself is the most important thing you can do today. So when you feel like making an excuse to skip that workout, don’t. Instead, remind yourself of all the reasons you want to get fit and stay healthy – and then get to work.
DO Make a Schedule and a Plan
It’s said that those who fail to plan, plan to fail. If you intentionally carve out time in your day to exercise, you’re much more likely to follow through.
Therefore, make a plan for the week - or even the month. Sit down with your partner, a neighbor, or a family member and get out your calendars. If you hit the gym Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons, can your partner take the kids to dance lessons? Or can your neighbor watch your kids on Tuesdays and Fridays if you return the favor Monday and Wednesday?
Making a plan might look as simple as committing to workout out for 30 minutes, three times a week, during naptime, or while the kids are at their after-school activities.
Find a system and a schedule that works for you – and then stick to it.
DON’T Skimp on Sleep
Some parents skimp on sleep to meet their fitness goals. Perhaps you’re tempted to wake up before the sun to hit the gym, or wait until everyone is in bed to turn on the treadmill. But part of a healthy lifestyle is getting enough sleep. Parents are already worn down and sleep-deprived enough. Don’t sacrifice sleep to squeeze in an extra WOD.
Get your full eight hours – if your kids will allow it. Trust us: your body will thank you.
DO Involve Your Kids
There’s no better way to teach our kids about healthy lifestyles than to involve them in our workouts. Go for a family bike ride, play a game of soccer in the back yard, or challenge your teenager to a burpees contest. Involving the entire family in your fitness routine will keep everyone happy and healthy – and you’ll build lasting memories in the process.
Parenting is not for the weak. Too often, we’re juggling careers, volunteer efforts, relationships, and errands in addition to our parenting responsibilities. It can feel impossible to keep up a fitness routine on top of it all. But being a healthy parent makes you a better parent. So take care of yourself first.