Between diapers and feedings, nap time and attempting to maintain an acceptable level of hygiene, it can be seemingly impossible to find for your workout routine. If you are working at all, it can be even tougher! The demands of a mother are endless, and we just about always put our needs last—dead last. Like, I feed the dog before I feed myself, last. And that’s ok, most of the time. Our family needs us, and it’s often the driving force for many of us. The trick is to find a way to meet your needs daily. The following tricks can help you to incorporate the kids while you get your workout routine in.
1. Let them count or count for them.
Sit-ups, push-ups, burpees, squats. It works for all of these and many more. If you have an infant, count in small increments from 1-5 or 1-10. This will help familiarize them with the numbers, and the repetition will help them learn. If your kiddos are older–toddler and up–let them count for you. Every day you can count higher and higher until your smart little helper knows all of their numbers. Even older kids, if they are still interested in hanging out with you, make it a competition! See who can do the most reps!
2. Use your workout routine as an opportunity for their physical development.
Tummy time or floor time, in general, can be a fussy time for babies. Make it smoother by getting down with them and snatch up the opportunity to do some toning yourself. During your baby’s tummy time, practice the “superman” by laying on your stomach with your arms and legs lifted off the floor. Contract your abs and your glutes and hold for 30 seconds to one minute. I like to alternate between this and crunches.
Laying on their back is also a time for physical development. Depending on how old they are, this is when babies discover their body parts. Feet, hands, and learning to roll side to side or even roll over are all part of learning from their time on the floor. This is an excellent opportunity to do exercises like planking, push-ups, or bridges.
Bonus, planking over top of or lying right next to your little one, will allow them to memorize your face and features further. This can be a perfect time for bonding.
3. Race them!
Kids love to race! And guess what? Sometimes you can win! This one’s a double whammy. You can get some legit cardio in and teach your kids to be a good sport at the same time. The opportunities are endless here. Reassuring them that it’s ok to lose sometimes is essential, and this is a painless way to introduce the notion. Is little one not quite walking yet? No problem. One day, while chasing my dog down at the park after she got off her leash, I noticed that as I was running after her behind the stroller, my little guy was screeching with delight! He loved it! Never mind the sweat soaking me down and people staring at me like I was the worst pet owner on the planet. Since that day, we burst out into little sprints on our regular walks.
4. Speaking of walks . . .
It’s one of the best ways I’ve found to wear my son out in between naps. I get great exercise, and the fresh air is essential for us both. Bonus, I started taking the dog with us, since we go pretty much every day and she has never better behaved. I believe that taking her on the walks with us helps her get rid of some pent up energy. After all, our four-legged kids need exercise too!
The best part of taking walks to incorporate the kids in your workout is that you can customize the walk to your day. We have all had those days that are, despite our best efforts, chaos from start to finish. Before you know it, it’s dinner time, which is promptly followed by bath then bed. The good news is, you can walk down the street and back or around the block and still feel the benefits of getting out and about (at least a little bit!)
5. Teach them.
Kids need to have a healthy role-model to teach them the importance of exercise. From jogging and jumping-jacks to weight lifting and everything in between, your kiddos will love to be a part of your activity. Getting a 4-year-old to do squats seems ridiculous, but you have to start somewhere, right? The trick is to do things in short increments of time and be super flexible while attempting each activity. They are going to be silly and want to do it their way. Just roll with it and try to point them in the right direction by showing them how you do it.
6. Stretching and meditating.
It may be one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to incorporate your child into your workout. Sitting on the floor and stretching can be done just about any time and is something your little athlete can get the hang of quickly. I know what you’re thinking, “yeah, right, let’s see you get my toddler to meditate.” I know, it sounds impossible. But it really can be done, and the benefits that come from helping your child meditate are priceless.
7. Seasonal activities.
Take advantage of the weather in your area to stay active. In the summertime, swimming can keep kids busy for hours and is an excellent way for them to develop muscle strength. Tread water while you supervise or do laps while they splash around. Even babies and toddlers can safely swim with you for quite some time! Fall and spring provide ideal temperatures to get out and take the little ones on a hike. Not only will you all be getting great exercise, but it’s the perfect opportunity to teach your adventurers about nature. Even if your baby isn’t old enough to walk (or enjoy nature quite yet), you can grab a wrap or baby carrier and take them along with you. Winter is a bit trickier to stay active, but a good old fashioned snowball fight or some sledding will ensure you get at least a little cardio in.
8. Sneak in reps during everyday activities.
Dinner time? Do some squats while you stir, flip, or grill. Rocking baby to get ready for bedtime? Rather than rock in the rocking chair, try closing the blinds and walking up and down the stairs. Another option is to stand and sway side to side. Multi-tasking can provide a pretty amazing amount of exercise. Parking extra far away from the doors during your errands, for example, can steal you a little time for a walk when you might not have an opportunity otherwise. Just get creative!
9. Game time!
Exercise is the goal. No one said it has to be professional or serious. Creating games and doing them with your kids can be a fun way to show your kids your silly side and still get the physical conditioning your body needs. Obstacle courses, playing tag, running through the sprinklers, or a classic game of kickball are all great options. If your little one is too small to keep up with you, try having a dance party or a super active game of peek-a-boo (think, baby is in the crib, and you pop up with a peek-a-boo from a burpee position).
10. Use exercise as an opportunity to get to know your kid even more.
What are their interests, get to know, and play into those. Let them make some rules to a new game or add their challenges to an obstacle course. Pokémon Go? Go for it! Race from location to location! Football fan? Play a super energetic game of fly up. Hip Hop Diva? Show them your moves and let them teach you a move or two of their own. Take it a step further and choreograph a dance together for the two of you to memorize. Any little dancer will be over the moon with this one-on-one attention.