There are only so many hours in the day. Some of us have the luxury of lunch time swims, morning runs or early afternoon workouts. Some of us feel like just getting out the door in the morning is a workout in itself. And even more of us struggle hard to motivate ourselves to move the body after the kids go to bed. So how the heck do we get and more importantly stay active when there are no kid-free moments for activeness in our days?
I know a ton of parents who have successfully worked out in some way, shape, or form WITH their children around. Now I know what you are thinking: either A) isn’t that selfish to use my limited family time as workout time? OR B) how in the heck do i get quality movement in with my crazy kids with me? After four years of navigating life with a child, a small business, and a husband that works shifts and is gone away often, I have gotten into the groove where regardless of the day or situation I CAN get moving. Over time I have let go of the momma guilt. I have felt what moving my body does for me as a person, a wife and a mother. And I have seen what carving out active time with my child does for MY CHILD too. So how do you get your head wrapped around being active with your family? Here’s some tips that I have found to be critical in my success in staying active:
1. Create a scheduling system that works for you. Use a calendar, a white board, or a day timer that is accessible for ALL to see. Just like kids love routine, so does our motivation to be and stay active. If it’s written down you are more accountable to your ‘meeting’ and if everyone can see it, when everyone knows what to expect.
2. Do it RIGHT away. Get up and move in the morning while the kids are having breakfast in the chariot (no joke I have done this). Or pick the kids up from school WITH your runners on and a kettlebell in the trunk and head directly to the local track. Where ever you decide you can fit it in the schedule, do not delay the act of moving or you will find excuses.
3. Bring snacks. Nothing is more distracting for kids then food. Everything is better when there is a granola bar involved.
4. Let everyone pick one thing they want to do. On weekends our family time is structured where every one gets to pick one thing they want to do. I almost always pick mountain biking or running. The kidlet picks something like crafts or baking or climbing. Everyone understands that the day is built with everyone’s interests in mind. No one cries (most of the time). No one is disappointed.
5. Do some thing you like/love. Don’t start running if you hate the thought of every stride. Don’t start bootcamp if you detest the idea of working out. But do think about the activities that make you feel excited to get out the door. And if you have no idea what that is, try anything and everything until you find it.
6. Find a class that allows kids or has daycare. Now a days there are a ton of classes that allow kids to accompany parents and there are countless gyms that have their own daycares. Seek them out and don’t feel guilty. Your child(ren) will benefit from seeing you carve out time for you to be active. Your child(ren) will likely enjoy playing with new kids in a new environment. 1 hour will benefit you and in turn benefit your children.
7. Get outside: take your workouts outdoors. I’ve done this on the trails, with snowshoes on, at the playground and even at the beach. Be creative: sup’ing with your kids on the board, monkey bar wod’s, and sprints and lunges on the trails are not uncommon for me and my family.
Let’s just be clear here. It’s going to take work. It’s going to take effort. There will be days your kids will cry and you will want to give up. But trust me, everyone will benefit from being and staying active. It will be worth it.