Between work, family calendars, to-do lists, and caregiving, it can be hard to focus on anything, let alone your health and wellness goals. To be the best parents we can be, it is important to care for ourselves. One of the things that might go by the wayside when we become parents is exercise. Sticking to a fitness plan can be done when caring for a family, but it may take some new expectations and creative ideas.
- Change your expectations: Most of us know the exercise recommendations of 150 minutes per week, but maybe we need to change our approach to what is practical when balancing individual and family schedules. If you used to work out at the gym 30 minutes, three times a week, this may not be realistic for you right now. You can get the same or very similar benefits by doing exercise at home in 10 to 15 minute sessions throughout the day.
- Make it a family affair: Taking time away from our family to exercise can bring feelings of guilt. Think about including your kids or family in your exercise plans. Walk or jog with the stroller or use a carrier for your infant. Play a sport as a family or go swimming together. Dance or play silly games with your toddler. Getting everyone involved will keep you moving and create some quality time together.
- Find a work out partner or parent group: Support is always key when it comes to keeping up an exercise routine. There are a lot of different types of support groups for parents and new moms. Look in your area to see if there is a parent exercise group that will help get you active and connect you with others. Often these include children or may provide child care. Also, instead of grabbing lunch or coffee with a friend, sign up to take an exercise class together while you catch up.
- Combine errands and exercise: Instead of piling into the minivan, bike with your kids to the bank or pull the wagon to the grocery store. If you need to drive, park farther away in the parking lot as you check off your to-do list. This can work for chores too! Perform squats while folding the laundry or march in place while unloading the dishwasher.
- Make date night an exercise night: Instead of hiring a babysitter to go to dinner and a movie with your partner, consider planning an exercise date night. Go to a local metro park and take a walk or hike. Play tennis or go bowling. It could be a fun and interesting way to spend time together and relieve some of the stress of parenting.
No matter what you choose to do, how you do it, or when you do it, make a commitment to yourself and your health. Find out what works for you and your family. There is no one right way to fit exercise into your life and busy routine.
If you are interested in hearing more ideas on this topic, join health coaches Alison and Bonnie for the webinar Fitting in Fitness for Incredibly Busy Parents on Monday, November 4 at noon. As mothers of two children each, they will discuss ways to get creative and stay active while juggling a family.