How Can Parents Make Time For Exercise?

I’ve been thinking a lot about parenting and self-care. Mostly about how, when things get busy, our self-care is often the first thing to go. This, despite evidence and anecdote that it really shouldn’t be. That taking care of ourselves actually makes us better parents.

Personally, I’m thinking a lot about my exercise routine. . . or lack thereof. Prior to my son’s birth it was pretty respectable. I worked out about 5 times per week and was even training for a half marathon when I found out I was pregnant. But I must admit that since I became a parent my exercise routine is pretty abysmal. I work a little in here or there but I haven’t had a good routine for (wow) 4+ years. And, it’s really starting to gnaw at me. So I turned to my social networks for some help. I asked,

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And I got some great advice. My overriding impression is that for many parents exercise may not look exactly like it did before kids, but that it is possible to fit it in. Some folks talked about carving out a specific time of day to work-out.

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Via facebook, Christine said, “Do it first thing in the morning with a friend. By doing it first thing in the am, you get it done and by doing it with a friend, you are more accountable and it is more fun and therapeutic.”

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Others recommended ways to get a work-out in even with kids.

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Some friends emphasized that “work-outs” may not look like they did before kids. We parents may not always have that dedicated hour or more to spend at the gym. But, this doesn’t mean we can’t be more active throughout the day, incorporating physical activity into our daily routine.

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Shorter workouts have been prominent lately, with suggestions like the 7-minute Workout, that Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson wrote about a while back.

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Many people seem to be mixing and matching a variety of these game plans, like Dr. Craig Canapari, who said, “Find something you can do with you kids eg having them in a bike trailer. Negotiate times with your spouse. Fit it in in your lunch hour. Otherwise early AM or after bedtime.”

Finally, one of my personal favorite strategies is exercising together with our kids.

Via facebook, Shelagh said, “I find that I like to integrate my workout throughout the day. I get to jog when my 2 year old tries to run into oncoming traffic. My biceps and triceps get a great workout when I have to carry a tantruming child out of the mall and into the car. I get to work on strengthening my core when I’m looking for the lost piece of lego in the carpet and my children jump on top of me and I try not to fall over. Its win-win really.”

Funny stuff, but Shelagh is definitely on to something here. Parenting young kids is physical work! Get outside and active with your kids. Run around the bases together at the park. Play red-light green-light. Chase an errant frisbee. This stuff all counts, not only for our kids but for us too.

So, with all of this great advice (and frequent encouragement from my mom), I really have no excuse not to get moving. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Meanwhile, have any advice or tips to add? How do you stay active even with a busy schedule?

*This post was initially conceived via a very cool site called, Storify. Check it out.


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