When you are a mom, it is hard to find time for self care.
After you have taken care of everyone else, and there isn’t much time or energy left over to take care of yourself.
So why bother spending your valuable (and rare!) spare minutes doing something that takes even more effort (like working out!)?
You will feel so. much. better.
When I don’t work out, I feel sluggish, irritable, and like I can’t wait for bedtime… for me and the kids!
But when I work out, I feel like I got more sleep (even though I didn’t), I’m much more patient (most of the time), and I am excited to work on my business once the kids are down.
So in this post we’ll cover
- How I find time to work out
- How I stay motivated to get it done
- And my favorite workouts for busy moms who have little kids
Let’s get started with how to get the workouts in!
And if you prefer to watch instead of read, check out this video:
How to Work Out as a Busy Mom
1) Workout Every Day
I know, I know, we just talked about how we don’t have extra time or energy.
Believe me, I. GET. IT.
But I have found that when I work out 6 days a week, I find it much easier to stay in the fitness mode as opposed to when I only get exercise 3 days a week.
When I workout less, not only is it hard to remember which days I’m supposed to exercise, but it is also much more challenging to motivate myself on those days.
It’s almost like I’m starting over with the motivation every time I work out.
It’s like good old Isaac Newton told us: bodies in motion tend to remain in motion. And bodies at rest…tend to remain at rest.
Plus, let’s face it, life happens!
Many weeks something throws a monkey wrench into my perfectly laid plans, and I have to miss a workout day.
But when I’m planning on and prepared to workout 6 days a week, it’s not a big deal if I skip a day here and there.
Working out makes me feel so good that I would rather over do it, than under do it.
2) Make Exercise Part of Your Routine
I use a Block Schedule to keep myself organized during the day.
Since working out is important to me, I put it into my daily routine.
Don’t worry about choosing the perfect time of day to start working out!
This is something that has changed for me several times since my girls were born and you can change it up if you need to:
- When the girls were tiny and demanded a lot of attention throughout the day, I would get up early and workout as part of my morning routine.
- As they got a little older, I started working out when they were awake because I thought it was good for them to see me working out. Plus, it was a great way for them to get some energy out as well!
- Earlier this year, when Ross wanted to work out with me, we started working out in the evening since that is when our schedules could synchronize.
- And right now, I typically will work out in the first or second block of the day, depending on what we have going on the rest of the day.
So you can easily move your workout time around if you need to as your family grows and changes!
The most important thing to do when you are starting out, is to find a time that you can stick with so working out will become a habit.
3) Workout With Your Kids
I want my kids to be healthy and active as they become adults. And if kids know that something is important to their parents, it will often become important to them!
Another reason it’s great to work out with your kids is that they can be encouragers!
Sometimes, I don’t feel like getting a workout in. But if my girls ask me if we can go for a run together… I am much more likely to go than if I were just relying on my own motivation.
I remember one day in particular when we first got our double jogging stroller: I wasn’t a fan of running yet… but I was trying to teach myself to run (more on this story below).
Well, the girls were very excited about riding in the stroller. So they woke up one morning and said, “Mommy, can we go for a ride in our jogging stroller?”
I said “Sure” and we proceeded to eat breakfast and get bundled up to go out for our run (did I mention it was winter?).
When I opened up the garage to go, I realized for the first time that it was pouring down rain.
I said, “Oh girls, it’s really raining, I don’t know if we should go for a run…” and they said, “It’s ok, Mommy! We have a rain cover!” (Not realizing that I was going to get soaked if we went out.)
So I took them for a run in the rain.
I can tell you for certain, that if they had not encouraged me to go for a run that day, I would have curled up on the couch and read books with them… but I was so happy that they insisted because it always feels good to get a workout in!
4) Get the Proper Gear
I don’t feel like going outside and exercising when I know I’m going to be cold.
But once I learned the proper way to layer clothes, it became much more enjoyable to get out!
I’ll show you exactly what gear you’ll need for each of my favorite ways to work out below.
5) Set a Goal
Setting a goal for myself pushed me to workout in a way that I never would have otherwise.
I had always had an idea that I wanted to do a triathlon. Growing up my dad had told me I would be good at them because I loved swimming and I loved riding my bike.
There was just one problem… I hated running.
I have asthma and when I would run (especially in the cold) it would feel like what I can only describe as my lungs bleeding.
So I set the goal of doing a triathlon on my bucket list and left it there.
A couple of years ago though, I decided it was time to give it a try. I got a double bike trailer/double jogging stroller, and I determined that I was going to do a sprint triathlon.
When I first started to work on the running, my goal was to be able to run for the whole one-mile loop around the sports complex near our house… and I couldn’t even do that.
For the first several days I would run to the first corner, then I would walk to the second corner, run to the third, and walk to the fourth.
But because I had my goal, I stuck with it until I was able to run for 4 miles without stopping.
Now a sprint triathlon is the absolute shortest distance of a triathlon that you can complete and still say that you did a triathlon… so I know it’s not too terribly impressive… but after about 9 months of training, I did it.
Any physical goal that you have always wanted to accomplish, whether it’s completing one pullup or running a marathon, can help you stay motivated to get in shape.
6) Get an Accountability Buddy
Working out can be fun with a friend.
Especially right now with the world being a little…uh, crazy?!… it can be nice to connect with a friend (even electronically) and motivate each other.
Ross is a part of a Pushup Challenge text group at the moment. He said it makes him more likely to workout every day because he gets reminded of it every time someone else completes the challenge for the day.
I love to take my girls on hikes, but sometimes it can feel a little daunting to go by myself. Thankfully, I have a friend who also loves to take her girls on hikes, so we load everyone up and go together.
If you want some extra motivation to work out, see if any of your friends want to be accountability buddies with you.
(And if you don’t have any friends who want to, see if there is a Facebook group you can join!)
7) Get a New Water Bottle
Getting a new water bottle is a great way to make working out a little bit more exciting… especially in the beginning.
I didn’t think we needed any new water bottles, but REI was having a sale this summer and Ross wanted to get new Nalgene water bottles for both of us… and now I’m really glad he did.
Like I’ve mentioned before, I’m probably the clumsiest person you will ever meet, and I’m constantly spilling water. But my new water bottle has a cap that screws on tightly so I don’t spill nearly as much as I normally do (as long as I remember to put the cap on… it’s a work in progress!).
Plus having a cute new water bottle just makes it a little bit more fun to drink your water when you are doing your workout.
(If you watch this video, though, you’ll notice that I still spilled water on myself in the second half of the video! )
8) Reward Yourself
Another way to stay motivated to workout is to reward yourself when you are done.
I like to have a protein drink after I workout.
This was another one of Ross’s ideas that I resisted at first. I didn’t think that we needed them and it seemed like a waste of money to me. But he thought that it would motivate him to work out more consistently.
And once we got the protein powder, I realized he was right!
Whenever I don’t feel like I want to work out, I just tell myself that I can have a protein shake after I’m done.
My Favorite Ways to Work Out
Now that we’ve talked about how to stay motivated, I’m going to show you my favorite ways to work out as a Busy Mom.
These are my favorite because:
- They require very little equipment.
- Once you have made the initial investment for the equipment that you need, you don’t have to continue purchasing anything else (no gym memberships required!)
- And you can do all of these workouts with your kids!
So without further ado, here are 5 ways to get a workout in when you have little kids:
1) Workout At Home
Probably the easiest way to start working out is to exercise at home with a DVD or a YouTube video.
When you do this, there is very little resistance to working out.
Just throw on some workout clothes (if you want to!), pop in the DVD (or turn on the YouTube video), and get started!
Your kids can be running around in their pajamas while you workout and no one will ever know.
I also like that you can do this before the kids wake up, while they are napping, or after they go to bed.
I love using P90X3 because they are only 30 minutes long and they have a wide variety of workouts within the program.
The only other things that I use for my at home workouts are:
- A small set of weights. This is all that I used when I was getting started.
- Nesting large weights. We purchased these when Ross started working out and he needed to have larger weights than I did. They are a dream for minimalists since they take up very little room!
- A Pull-up Bar. Most of the upper body workouts in P90X3 require a pullup bar or bands. We have a pull up bar that mounts on any door jam.
- A Pull-up Assist Band. This baby took me from being able to do exactly 0 pull-ups, to being able to do several with the band and about 5 pull-ups without the band! I highly recommend this if you would like to be able to do a pull-up but can’t yet.
My 5 year old can do most of the P90X3 workouts with me, and my 2 year old likes to try!
And there are many other types of workout videos to choose from if P90X3 doesn’t strike your fancy.
2) Go for a Walk
The next easiest way to start working out is to take your troop for a walk.
You do have to get everyone bundled up if you are walking in winter, but going for a walk isn’t physically challenging (unless you live in a particularly mountainous neighborhood).
I never thought that I would be a parent who wanted to wear my baby… until I was a nanny.
They had a soft carrier that I could use and it changed my life!
It was so convenient for taking the little guy on long walks. And I loved that I didn’t need to bring along extra bulky equipment.
So when I was expecting my first baby, I knew that I wanted to get a soft carrier for walks and hikes.
I chose the Lillebaby Airflow because it was cooler than the other options on the market (wearing a baby is warm!) and because it allowed me to wear my babies on my front-facing-in, on my front-facing-out, and on my back while keeping the baby’s hips in an ergonomically correct position.
(If you’d like to see my full Minimalist Baby Registry, check out this post!)
If you are walking out in the cold, you may also want some good hats and gloves to keep everyone warm and happy.
This is what we use:
And that’s really all you need!
If it’s winter, be sure to layer the kids’ clothing so that they will be plenty warm; but you should be able to do this with clothes that you already have.
3) Go for a Hike
The next way that I love to work out with my kids is to take them on a hike.
Now hiking probably does require the most gear to get started, but it can be such a rewarding way to exercise and it’s also great way to reconnect our kids with nature.
If you want to see full posts with gear lists on hiking with kids, check out 11 Tips for How to Hike With Little Kids, and How to Hike With Toddlers: 15 Tips for How to Transition Your Toddler from a Rider to a Hiker.
But I did want to show you some of the basic gear you’ll need in this post too. So here is what we use when we go hiking:
Hiking Boots. The first thing you’ll want to make sure that you have for your kids is waterproof hiking boots. Stomping in puddles and wading in creeks is the absolute best thing about hiking… according to most kids at least.
Don’t take away the fun by worrying about their feet getting wet. Just get them waterproof hiking shoes and teach them how to not let the water go over their shoes.
Don’t make the same mistake that we did when our oldest daughter started hiking and end up with a very cold little kid 🙁 (you can read the story in this post.).
Wool Socks. Their little feet will stay nice and warm as they are splashing in the cold puddles when they have wool socks on.
The nice thing about wool socks is that if they do get water on them, they will wick it away from their feet. (We still bring an extra pair on long hikes though, just in case!)
Base Layer. When it comes to layering for a hike, you don’t want to skimp on the layers. You want to get a good base layer that will keep your kiddos (and you!) warm and dry.
We love the 32 Degree brand of base layer and highly recommend them for kids and adults.
And if you have a Costco membership (or a friend does!) you can get them for a steal there during the fall/winter months!
Fleece Pants. The next layer that we always bring along in the fall, winter, and spring is a fleece layer.
Fleece is awesome for keeping you warm, for wicking any moisture away from your skin, and for keeping you dry.
Even if it’s lightly raining, we will often just use the fleece to keep dry instead of putting all of our rain gear on (but we do always keep the rain gear in our packs if there is a chance that it will rain harder!)
Fleece Jackets. And along with the pants, we also have fleece jackets on every. single. hike. Seriously.
Even in the summer we always bring our fleece jackets because when you are hiking up a mountain or hiking to a waterfall it gets cold!
In the winter, we put the fleece layer on top of our base layer (unless we put an extra shirt on over the base layer and before the fleece for those extra frigid days!).
It’s like a raincoat that covers their entire body… from their head to their toes (it even has stirrups to go around their boots!)
Rain Jackets. And for older kids and for the parents, we bring our rain jackets on just about every hike in the fall, winter, and spring… and we often bring them in the summer too.
Because the one time that you leave them in your car because it’s 70 degrees and clear skies…. you will get poured on. Don’t ask me how I know.
And then you will also want to bring the hats and gloves that you got for walking!
4) Go for a Bike Ride
Going for a bike ride is another great way to get exercise with kids.
Since our girls are 5 and 2 right now, they aren’t quite big enough to keep up with us when they are on their own bikes. So they ride in the bike trailer when we go on rides that Ross and I want to get exercise on.
We use the Burley D’Lite X Double Bike Trailer for our girls and I’m obsessed with it.
We were able to get a cheaper bike trailer directly from Burley because they have “seconds” that they sell at a discount. The only thing that was wrong with it was that the reclining mechanism stuck a little bit… and I am a-ok with that if it saves me a couple hundred dollars!
We love going on family bike rides and taking a picnic in the trailer that we can eat when we get there.
If your kids are older, then they can always ride along with you.
Be sure to check Craigslist too for cheap bikes for yourself, your kids, and for bike trailers!
5) Go for a Run
Before you click away and say, “Kassy, you don’t understand, running isn’t for me. I hate it.”
Just know that I DID TOO!
Running was my least favorite of all the exercises (unless you count fishing as exercise… then running was my second least favorite.)
The only, let me repeat, THE ONLY reason that I started running was because I wanted to do a triathlon.
I figured I would suffer through about 9 months of training, complete my triathlon, and never run again.
I could barely run a quarter of a mile when I started without having to stop and catch my breath and walk for a while… but I kept trying.
And eventually… I started to like it.
One of the things that I really like about it now is that my 5-year-old can ride her bike at about the same speed that I can run.
So we can go for what we call “ride-runs” for about 5 miles. That way we both get a workout in at the same time while enjoying the fresh air.
I can even let my two-year-old ride her strider bike for a little bit, then balance her bike on top of the jogging stroller for the rest of the run while she rides inside.
(I don’t know if you are technically supposed to do this or if it will void any warranty, but… it works really well for us!)
If you are looking for a good double bike trailer/jogging stroller, I highly recommend it!.
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