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, it can be even more challenging! 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 okay, 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 include your kids in your workout routine.
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. Let them count for you if your kiddos are older (toddler and up). Have them count higher and higher every day until your smart little helper knows all 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 or floor time can generally be a fussy time for babies. Make it smoother by getting down with them and snatching 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 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 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 or lying right next to your little one will allow them to further memorize your face and features. 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. The opportunities are endless here. Reassuring them that it’s okay to lose sometimes is essential, which is a painless way to introduce the notion. Is your 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 ran 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 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 almost daily, and she has never been better behaved. Taking her on walks with us helps her release 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 customizing the walk to your day. Despite our best efforts, we have all had chaotic days from start to finish. Before you know it, it’s dinner time, promptly followed by a 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 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 participating in your activity. Getting a 4-year-old to do squats seems ridiculous, but you must start somewhere. The trick is to do things in short increments 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 at any time and is something your little athlete can quickly get the hang of. I know what you’re thinking, “Yeah, right, let’s see you get my toddler to meditate.” I know it sounds impossible. But it can be done, and the benefits of your child meditating are priceless.1
7. Seasonal activities.
Take advantage of the weather in your area to stay active. Summer activities for kids, like swimming, can keep kids busy for hours and is an excellent way to develop muscle strength. Tread water while you supervise or do laps while they splash around. Even toddlers and babies 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. (see more of our favorite fall activities for kids and spring activities for kids)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 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 from side to side. Multitasking can provide a pretty amazing amount of exercise. Parking extra far away from the doors during your errands, for example, can give you a little time for a walk when you might not otherwise have an opportunity. 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 them your silly side and still get the physical conditioning your body needs. Outdoor games for kids, like obstacle courses, playing tag, running through the sprinklers, or a classic kickball game, 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 to get to know your kid even more.
Get to know their interests and play into those. Let them make rules for 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.