When you are a mom, it is hard to find time for self care.
You are always using your time and energy to take 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 else that takes more effort (like working out!)?
It’s simple. You will feel so. much. better.
When I don’t work out, I feel sluggish, much more 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, I wanted to share with you 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 the video:
How to Work Out as a Busy Mom
Before we get into workouts that you can do with your kids, let’s take a minute to make sure you can stick with your new workout routine and find time to do it on a consistent basis.
Here’s How I do it:
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 workout 6 days a week (I take Saturdays off as an official workout day), I find it much easier to stay in the fitness mode as opposed to when I only work out 3 days a week.
If I work out fewer days of the week, it is hard to remember which days I’m working out, and it is much more challenging to motivate myself to move my body on the days I’m supposed to exercise.
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) Working Out is a Part of My Routine
When you are deciding which part of your daily routine you should work out in, don’t overthink it.
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 got my workout in as part of my morning routine.
- As they got a little older, I started working out when they were awake because I felt it was good for them to see me working out, and it was a good way for them to get some energy out as well.
- Earlier this year, when Ross wanted to work out with me, we worked out in our evening block together 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 see, you can easily move your workout time around if you need to as your family grows and changes!
The most important thing to do is just to find some time to get this done every day so it becomes a habit.
3) I Workout With My Kids
I think it is essential for kids to see their parents working out.
I want my kids to be healthy and active as they become adults. And if kids know something is important to their parents, it will often become important to them!
The other reason I think it’s good to work out with your kids is that kids can be great little encouragers!
Sometimes, I just 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” (remember this wasn’t my thing yet!) 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 so good to get a workout in!
4) Get the Proper Gear
Especially in the winter, I don’t feel like getting outside and moving my body when I know I’m going to be cold.
But once I learned the proper way to layer the clothes for my kids and for myself, it became much more enjoyable to get outside and get some exercise.
I’m going to show you exactly which gear you need for each of my favorite ways to work out as we go through them below.
5) Set a Goal
Setting a goal for myself pushed me to workout in a way that I never would have without the goal.
I had always had an idea that I wanted to do a triathlon because my dad had always told me that I would be good at them.
I loved swimming. I loved riding my bike. But 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 running 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 much more fun with a friend.
Especially right now with the world being a little…uh, crazy?!… it can be really nice to connect with a friend (even electronically) and motivate each other.
Ross is a part of a Pushup Challenge text group right now and he said it is much more motivating to get his pushups in because he gets reminded to do his own pushups every time someone else says they did theirs for the day.
I love to take my girls for a hike, but sometimes it can feel a little daunting to go by myself. Thankfully, I have a friend who also loves to take her girls for hikes and it is so much more fun to go together.
So if you have a hard time motivating yourself to get a work out in, 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 very 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 get some protein drinks that you can have as a reward.
This was another one of Ross’s ideas that I resisted at first. I didn’t think we needed them and it seemed like a waste of money to me. But he really thought it would motivate him to work out more consistently.
And once we got the shakes, I realized he was right!
Whenever I don’t feel like I want to work out, I would just tell myself that I could have a protein shake if I did the workout.
I love this protein powder because it is all plant based.
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 do 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 work out at home with a DVD or YouTube video.
This is the easiest because 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 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 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 this Minimalist since they take up very little room!
- A Pullup Bar. Most of the upper body workouts in P90X3 require a pullup bar or bands. We have a pullup bar that mounts on any door jam.
- A Pullup Assist Band. This baby took me from being able to do 0 pullups, to being able to do several with the band and about 5 pullups without the band! I highly recommend this if you would like to be able to do a pullup 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!
But 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 taking 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 the 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 immediately that I wanted to get a soft carrier for my walks.
I chose the Lillebaby Airflow because it was cooler than the other options on the market (and wearing your baby can be warm!) and because it allowed me to wear my babies on the front-facing-in, front-facing-out, and on my back while keeping the baby’s hips in an ergonomic 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 to start walking.
If it’s winter, be sure to layer the kids up enough, 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 a 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: 11 Tips for How to Transition Your Toddler from a Rider to a Hiker.
But I did want to show you some of the basics for gear in this post too. So here is what we use when we go hiking:
Hiking Boots. The first thing you want to make sure 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 to not let the water go over their shoes.
Don’t make the same mistake 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.
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, and for wicking away any moisture, and 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 (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, let me tell you, 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 over around their feet!)
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 our bike rides.
We use the Burley D’Lite X Double Bike Trailer for our girls and I’m obsessed with it. If you want to see my full review of the trailer when it’s finished, subscribe to the blog so you will be notified when the post is live.
We love going on family bike rides together to a park 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… but be sure to check Craigslist for cheap bikes for you and your kids!
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 I started running, was because I wanted to run 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 and 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 technically don’t know if you are 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!.
I’m doing a full review soon, and I’ll pop a link in here when I do! You can subscribe if you want to be notified when that post goes live.
So there you have it, my favorite ways to work out with my little kids! Let me know in the comments down below what your favorite ways to work out with your kids are. And I’d love to hear if you are going to try any of the ways I mentioned out!
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