As mothers and fathers, our lives become filled with so many wonderful moments thanks to our children, but they’re often at the sacrifice of time for ourselves. There are meals to prepare, diapers to change, practices to drive to, homework to help with, friends to pick up and toy cars to play with. There’s also the whirlwind trail of cleanup that comes after all of those things.
Whether you’re a stay-at-home parent or work full time, caring for your kids is both a joy and lots of hard work. Things tend to fall to the wayside, like your own health, as you put all of your time into your kids, but if you want to be around for your kids as long as possible, you need exercise to keep yourself fit.
Here are a few ideas to help you make the time to exercise and look after your own health:
1. The Gym with the daycare
Joining a gym that has an entertaining and fun daycare for your kids could make finding time for yourself to work out that much easier. Depending on the temperament of your kids this may be the way to go or it may not work out at all, but you should try it out and see if it fits your family. Many gyms like the YMCA offer affordable care for your kids while you work out. You can schedule one to three workouts a week and during that time your kids will get to play games, create artwork or even work on their homework. You can even encourage one of your friends to join the same gym, so your kids can play together while the moms (or dads) get healthy.
Drawbacks: Be prepared your kids may not like it, and this venue may not be the perfect fit for your family. Some gyms offer free trial memberships for a week or more, and this may be a good option so you can test it out before you sign up for the long term.
2. Early riser
Another option is to take yourself out of the gym and wake up long before the kids wake up in order to get a workout in. Some people appreciate these quiet moments before everyone in the house wakes up. You can put on your iPod and listen to some yoga podcasts or go jogging.
Jogging offers numerous health benefits and is inexpensive to do. All you need is a good pair of jogging shoes. This is definitely not the easiest thing to do, especially if you’re exhausted from caring for your kids. You also have to deal with unpleasant weather and potential safety issues: Are streets well lit at this early hour? Is your neighborhood dangerous? Are there sidewalks or a place where you can jog?
A good way to stick with this idea is to create a jogging club. Find other parents who also want to get healthy and run in groups. It’s not only safer, but when someone else is relying on you to show up, you’ll be more committed to exercising.
Drawbacks: Bad weather, not enough energy or dangerous dark roads. It’s helpful to go to bed right after the kids do, which may mean you have to cut back on other things like television.
3. Late-night runner
Perhaps the morning is not for you and you’d rather go out at night. Some people have more energy in the evening, and this may be you. If you are going to run at night, you can either wait until the kids go to sleep or entrust them in the care of someone else like a grandparent, your spouse or a neighbor.
If you are running at night, it’s incredibly important to be safe. If you are running on public roads, wear safety vests, bright colored or reflective clothing and use the sidewalks whenever possible. A safer option would be running on a track at night or a very well-lit place. Additionally, if you can run with someone else, it will increase your safety odds. Not everyone is nice out there, but if there are two of you, a ill-willed person may have second thoughts.
Drawbacks: Needing to find someone to watch your kids. Not having someone to run with and risking your personal safety.
4. Get your kids involved
Exercise contributes to a longer life, and this is a very important lesson to teach to your kids. If you can instill this in them at a young age and have fun at the same time, they’ll carry this positive outlook on exercise for the rest of their lives.
Dinner doesn’t always have to be right at 5 p.m. Grab your kids a healthy snack, like fruit or mixed nuts and hit the playground. Running around with your kids for an hour will acting like a kid can also do wonders on your mood.
If you’ve signed your kids up for swimming, why not get in the pool too? There may even be family yoga or karate classes in your community. You can also invent something for you and your kids. Take everyone on a jogging treasure hunt trail. Create a bike ride night. It’s really in your power and in your imagination.
Drawbacks: Sometimes family enthusiasm, depending on how old your kids are, isn’t always present. Also, your kids may be of different ages so getting everyone to agree on the fun may be difficult. Still, it’s worth trying.
5. Enlist the help of a spouse, grandparent or friend
You spend so much time caring for your kids. It’s important to take some time for yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. All it takes is as little as 20 minutes three times a week to make an impact on your health. Your kids may appreciate the fun or special things they get to do during this time that they don’t get to do with you.
Drawbacks: Depending on who you find or have available, your kids may be less than excited to spend time with this person. Consider some of the friends your kids have. Would their parents be interested in getting time to exercise by switching off exercise nights with you? Your friends will be happy to have more time with their friends, and you’ll be happy to have more time to yourself.
All in all, making time for exercise is not impossible, but it does take determination and creativity. I hope some of these ideas will help you get started.
Amanda Porta writes for herself at amandaportawrites.wordpress.com She also helps MI GMC dealers and other dealerships exercise their SEO muscles.