Running a busy household with two young children, working full time by running my own business, which utilises every spare moment I have, as well as trying to find the time to exercise amongst the daily hustle and bustle can sometimes feel overwhelming. However as a family we have made it a priority to put our health and wellbeing first and to make time to exercise several times per week. Anything is possible and if you want to exercise and stay active as a busy parent, believe me, you can. Exercise is so incredibly important for our mental wellbeing, quality of sleep, to reduce risk of chronic disease, to maintain a healthy weight and to feel physically fit within ourselves.
Here are my tips and advice on how I manage to squeeze exercise into my weekly routine, even as a busy working mum:
Make it a priority
Many people just have too many excuses to not exercise. I don’t enjoy it. I don’t have time for it. I can’t afford it. Stop with the excuses! Where there’s a will, there’s a way. If you really want something then make it a priority and do it. Stop saying I’m going to start running or I’m going to join a gym and go for that run and join that gym. Realise how important exercise is for you and the benefits you will gain and make it a priority. Your body will thank you. A quick Google search will reveal the many benefits of exercise if you don’t already know. Yes it may be hard at first if you are unfit, but quite quickly you will start to feel amazing and you’ll see the difference in your body and fitness levels. If your health is a priority then exercise should be a priority.
Make it a habit
Once you’ve realised it’s a priority the next step is to turn it into a habit. We are creatures of habit and love a routine. If you can’t exercise every day then choose the days and times you can and stick to it. Block those times out of your calendar and set them aside for exercise. Once you get in to a routine you will find it easier to stick to it. If something else pops up then you’ll have to rearrange it before or after as you are already busy. You need to be strict with yourself and stick to your exercise routine. It’s for your own good.
Join a family friendly gym
One of the best things we did was to join a family friendly gym and aside from when I had an injury this year (twisted sacroiliac joint for 6 weeks) we have religiously been going several times per week since 1st October 2017. Before this I was running on the street and in parks as well as going to an aqua aerobics class. I was still active, but we made the decision to join a gym for the benefits of being able to attend all the classes, use the family swimming pool, use the well-equipped gym and the kids get to be healthy and do keep fit activities too!
It is definitely pricey, but for us our health is a priority so I’d rather sacrifice something else and make paying for the gym our first expense each month. Plus, we go around five times per week, so we absolutely get our money’s worth! The price is also a brilliant incentive to go. If you are paying a considerable fee for a high end gym then you’re going to want to make sure you go, otherwise it’s wasted money. Perhaps that commitment is just what you need to motivate you into going.
The best thing about a family orientated gym is the crèche or kids club. We are able to pop the kids into activities for 1-2 hours whilst we parents go and use the gym facilities. The kids are happy as they get to do multi sports or mini dance with other children and enthusiastic teachers. Other days we may take the kids swimming. We get to set a good example to our kids that we are active and hopefully encourage them to develop a lifelong love of being fit and healthy themselves.
Exercise for free
Obviously not everyone can afford to join a gym, but there are so many ways to keep fit and healthy for free. We only joined the gym as a family last October, but we were regularly exercising before this. There’s a park a short drive away that has a path around the main field. This was perfect for us to go to as a family and play ball games with the kids in the middle of the grass, whilst my husband and I took it in turns to run around the path.
Most kids play parks nowadays are also kitted out with some outdoor gym equipment also known as adult playgrounds! These are free to use and mean us parents can also play at the park! Don’t just sit and watch your kids have all the fun. Get up and use this free equipment. Waste no time and no energy!
Walk whenever you can
If you need to pop to the shops and they’re not far away then walk. Stop driving little trips and walk them instead, particularly on a sunny day. Got a lunchbreak at work? Why not go for a walk?
Walking may not raise your heart rate significantly or leave you in a dripping sweat, but it can still strengthen your bones and muscles, naturally improve your mood and help maintain a healthy weight. Walking uphill is brilliant for working muscles in your glutes and core, so if these areas bother you then find a nearby hill or steep road and get walking!
Another tip is to go for a family walk after dinner each evening. It’s a great way to catch up with each other, to explore your local neighbourhood and get a touch of exercise at the same time. Again, by making this a habit the kids will expect it and you’ll all start to enjoy this quality family exercise time.
Only got 5 minutes? There’s a video for that
Being short of time is probably the top reason for parents to stop exercising or to not ever start. I’m sorry, but that’s no excuse either! If you only have five minutes then search YouTube for ‘5 minutes of yoga’, ‘5 minutes of ab exercises’, ‘5 minute workout’ and so on. There’s a free video on YouTube for almost every time scale you have and for almost every exercise or area of the body you want to work on.
Otherwise just grab your kids skipping rope and skip for five minutes. Do some handstands against the wall. Run on the spot. The possibilities are endless and it’s so easy to squeeze 5 minutes of exercise into your day, if that’s really all the time you have spare.
Do it with the kids
Exercise can be fun for the whole family and there are lots of activities you can do together that are active too. Try ice-skating, trampolining, climbing or even skiing together. Plus all of these can be found at indoor centres too so you can’t use your bad weather excuse! There are online websites that sell ice-skates in all sizes so you can grab some for the kids and yourself in one place. If you’re thinking of a family day out then look for something that’s fun and energetic such as some tree top adventures at Go Ape or similar. The kids will have a blast and they’ll be exercising at the same time without even realising. Just pick something where the adults get to join in too.
There are so many ways to stay active as a parent. Just make it a priority, commit to it and most of all – learn to enjoy it!
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