As the mother of two and a former homeschooler, I am no stranger to the challenges of fitting exercise into a busy and hectic day. Yet as a personal trainer and fitness expert, I know that it’s crucial for my health AND my sanity. Here are four different approaches to making exercise a priority for multi-tasking moms.
The first approach is to include your children in your exercise or to work around their schedule. One idea is to put the child(ren) in a stroller and power walk or run. Running strollers are fairly affordable, but any type of stroller will do. If the weather is bad, walk in a mall. Most malls open before or after hours for this purpose. If your children are too old for a stroller, get out the bikes, roller skates or other wheeled apparatus or have them walk beside you. Granted, this may be a short outing, but at least you all get a little fresh air and exercise. You’re also building good exercise habits, and the day will quickly come when they shout, “Come ON, Mom, keep up!” Other ideas include playing outside, dancing in the living room, or going to a park or playground together.
Working around your children’s schedule may be a bit easier, especially when they’re very little. You can buy a treadmill, elliptical, step, weights, stretch cords, etc. to use after bedtime, early in the morning or during naps. You can find a huge variety of exercise DVDs and videos to buy or rent. I like this site: http://www.collagevideo.com/.
The third approach to finding exercise time is to join a gym or health club with supervised child care. Your children may complain, cry and otherwise induce guilt, but most will adapt quickly. Gym child care has come a long way in recent years, and you may find that the children don’t want to leave. Some facilities even offer classes for children, especially YMCAs and community centers. To make it easier on everyone, find a friend (or friends) with children to join you. Not only will you have a workout partner and companions for your children, but you can often barter a better deal on membership for two or more.
Finally, enlist the support of your family, friends and community. Can your husband or another family member watch the children while you go for a quick run or power walk? Perhaps you can find a friend who wants to trade off babysitting and workout time. Consider hiring a teen in your neighborhood or parish to watch the children for an hour. If funds are low, you might negotiate childcare in return for homemade goodies, tutoring, or some other service.
Even if you have to “mix and match” these approaches, do find time to exercise. You’ll benefit from increased energy, better health, and stress relief so that you might better fulfill your vocation as wife and mother. Even more important, you are modeling healthy habits for your children, who will be more likely to follow your good example when they are old enough to form their own exercise habits.