It’s freakin’ hard. But it is possible. You just have to be creative and flexible — two qualities that just about any parent already has. Below are some ideas with additional ones from the American Heart Association and Fitness Magazine for how to fit some exercise into your life:
1. Let go of the guilt. It’s OK to make time for yourself. Your kids will do better if mom or dad are not insane and/or stressed out. Plus, you’ll live longer. Long enough to get to watch them raise their own kids (you know what they say about paybacks!). That in and of itself should be worth carving out a bit of time.
2. Home is where the DVD is (oh, and the heart). Buy a $10 DVD and use the thing. Or subscribe to an online service. Or find a free resource online. There’s always YouTube.
Two of my favorites are Jillian Michaels and Runner’s World Magazine’s yoga center because both are 30 minutes long. I often do these with my favorite 15-year-old. When my youngest was a toddler, I would do them near his bedroom right after I put him to bed. He could see me, which kept him in his room and not trying to get out of bed to find me. It worked for us.
3. Go really early or really late. You’re really not going to die. I know parents who exercise at 5 a.m. or during their lunch hour. God bless them. I’m not doing that. I would much rather go at 8 or 8:30 at night once I’ve taken care of everyone’s immediate needs. I’m home in time to tuck my youngest in bed. This assumes your children are either old enough to be alone for a bit or there’s another adult in the home.
4. Get them in on the action. Can they ride their bikes with you or while you run? There’s always the running jogger for the little ones. Can they join your gym or does it have childcare? A friend runs laps around the playground while her kids play.
5. Be creative. Can you trade with a neighbor or friend so each of you watches the others’ kids while you exercise? Can you hire a local teen-ager to stop by before or after school? Can you run outside while your kids are at their soccer/baseball/swimming practice? Can you find a workout you can do while watching your favorite TV show or movie? (I’m thinking push-ups, planks, etc.)
A friend makes her weekly phone call with her sister on her weekly long run. They encourage each other and get to catch up. Brilliant.
Parenting is HARD but you’re good enough, smart enough and, doggone it, people like you! You can do it.
And on days when you just can’t, that’s really OK. Just mark it down as a rest day and find time tomorrow. But if it’s inspiration that you need, I’ve written about that, too.
How do you get your workout in? What’s the best advice you’ve gotten from another parent? If you don’t have kids at home, what’s your challenge to working out and how do you overcome it?