Let’s face it–sticking to an exercise routine can be tough for anyone. But when you’re trying to meet your fitness goals as a busy mom, it may seem downright impossible. If you barely have time to take a shower, how in the world will you find time to exercise?
I’ve got some good news for you: even if your to-do list seems never-ending, there are plenty of ways to make exercise a reality. Sure, getting your heart rate up may require more planning than it did pre-baby, but plenty of moms have found ways to stay in shape. There’s no reason you can’t, too.
Ready to find out how? Let’s dive into this guide to fitness for busy moms.
Find Your Why
Before we talk about how, let’s first discuss the why behind our exercise goals.
As moms, we face lots of demands and distractions, and we’re often under a lot of stress. It’s easy to let our own health slide with so much to do. To be successful with fitness, we have to remind ourselves why exercise is important.
Ask yourself right now what you’re hoping to achieve from exercise. Do you want to lose pregnancy weight? Perhaps you were an exercise junkie before having a baby, and you miss the adrenaline rush you get from working out. Maybe you want to keep fit so you can be a healthy, active mom for your kids.
It doesn’t matter what your motivation is, as long as you know what it is. Keeping your “why” at the forefront will help you find the motivation to exercise when you’d rather sit on the couch. Because let’s face it–we all have those days every now and again.
13 Tips on Finding Time for Exercise for Busy Moms
Now that you’ve defined your reasons for wanting to work out, you’re probably wondering how to make those workouts a reality. Here are 13 of the best ways to squeeze in some you time.
- Get Up Early
You’ve probably experienced the following scenario all the time: You get home from work pumped for your evening workout, but between commitments, activities, changing diapers, and getting dinner on the table (to name just a few!), there aren’t enough hours in the day. Before you know it, it’s time for bed, and your workout gear lays untouched.
One way of getting around this problem is to get up early for your daily sweat session. I know–you’re probably already getting up early. But for many moms, exercising before everyone else has even rolled over in bed is the best way to ensure time for you.
Plus, working out before everyone else is awake means you won’t encounter any distractions or interruptions. You’ll have knocked out this critical to-do list item before your kids are up, and you’ll be energized and ready to start the day.
If getting up early is hard for you, go slow at first. Try easing into one or two half-hour sessions per week to see if this strategy is one you like and–more importantly–can maintain.
- Set a Date
Thinking of workouts as dates with yourself significantly increases the probability that you’ll show up for them. The trick is to make them feel like an appointment you need to keep, which is why you should actually schedule sessions in your calendar. It’s hard to skip a workout when you’ve blocked the time for it.
This tactic is also excellent if you share a calendar with your spouse, as they can see ahead of time when you plan to work out, and they have to take care of the kids. Of course, when your partner needs their exercise time, you return the favor. It’s a win-win for everyone!
- Workout with Your Kids
Who said that workouts had to be kid-free? If you truly can’t find time to sneak away from your kids, get them involved instead. There are plenty of ways to do so, depending on the age of your kids.
For younger babies, babywearing workouts are an excellent way to bond with your baby and get in shape! You hold the baby on your body in some kind of carrier and do bodyweight exercises like squats, lunges, and upper body exercises. The video below provides an excellent demonstration of some common babywearing exercises.
Once your little one outgrows the carrier, you can do your workouts with them. Children love to move, so including them in your workout is essentially added playtime for them. Let your little one jump on your Bosu ball or play “hop over” games with resistance bands. Not only will they love spending time with you, but they will also burn some energy.
- Exercise at Work
If getting up at the crack of dawn to work out just isn’t your thing, try taking advantage of another free moment in your day: lunch. For many of us who work full-time, this is an ideal moment to sweat.
Some moms use their lunch hour to go for a run, while others attend a yoga class. You can even do some bodyweight exercises if you have an office with a door (and feel comfortable actually working out in the office). Or take advantage of your lunch hour to go for a vigorous walk. What you do is up to you–the sky’s the limit.
One critical piece of advice if you plan to work out at lunch is to make sure you’re prepared so you can freshen up after your session. A change of clothes is a must, and you should also keep items like deodorant, dry shampoo, a towel, and makeup close at hand.
- Play at the Jungle Gym
Are you going with your kid to the playground? Take advantage of their playtime to sneak in a workout at the jungle gym. Not only can you get some quality exercise time in, but your kids will also love that mommy is “playing” with them at the park.
Try doing ab tucks on a swing, box jumps on an elevated step or platform, or tricep dips. Are the monkey bars free? Swing from one end to the other, or use them to work on your pull-up. (If you aren’t quite there yet, a long resistance band can provide the assistance you need.) There are plenty of playground workout hacks–use your imagination!
- Break It Up
Sometimes, an hour-long uninterrupted workout session is easier said than done. Try letting go of the all-or-nothing mentality, and complete a few shorter workouts throughout the day instead. The best time to do this is when your kids are busy with activities that don’t involve you.
Try doing some Pilates while your kids are eating, for example. Or complete a few rounds of planks when they’re watching their favorite TV show (who knows, they may even want to join you!) Baby sleeping? Do some light stretching and mobility work. You get the idea.
And don’t think that just because a workout is short that it’s less effective. HIIT training, or high-intensity interval training, is an excellent example. These sessions last anywhere from five to twenty minutes, and they get your heart rate up fast for a super-effective workout. HIIT is perfect for moms looking for the most bang for their buck.
- Make Your Commute Active
If you live close enough to walk or bike to work, leave your car at home. Even if it’s just fifteen or twenty minutes, making your commute active adds up.
Similarly, if your child’s school is within walking distance, try taking the stroller and picking them up instead of driving. Better yet, have them ride their bike while you follow along for a family walk!
- Sign up for a Class
Fact: if your workout is a group class that you’ve spent your hard-earned money on, you’re more likely to show up. And the best part about classes is that there’s something for everyone. You can sign up for Zumba, BodyPump, Pilates, or CrossFit, to name just a few. Some classes even offer free child care while you’re working out.
You may also want to take your kid with you to work out. There are plenty of mommy-and-me classes, such as dance, swimming, gymnastics, and fitness, that both of you will love.
- Be Honest About Your Phone Habits
Sure, it may seem like you don’t have any free time, but have you taken an honest look at your day?
Chances are you spend more time than you realize scrolling sites like Instagram or Pinterest. Your phone’s screen time feature can help you come to grips with how much time you spend on your phone. You’ll likely find an extra ten or twenty minutes you could use for exercise instead.
- Find Your Support
The right support system can make all the difference when it comes to sticking to a fitness routine–and the great thing is that support systems are not one-size-fits-all.
Some of us like to surround ourselves with lots of like-minded fitness-enthusiast moms to stay on track. Support groups can help you stay accountable and are a great place to meet new people. Try searching for in-person mom groups or online communities, which are both excellent ways to share your fitness goals with others.
Other moms prefer to find a workout buddy to keep them on track. Whatever your support system looks like, the important thing is that it works for you.
- Have Grace with Yourself
The truth is that even before kids, it was all too easy for life to get in the way of your workouts. As a new mom, this statement is truer than ever.
From sleep deprivation to dealing with sick kids, doctors’ appointments and lousy days at work, sometimes you have to put your workout on the back burner–and that’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up if you have to skip a workout. As long as it’s not a regular habit, there’s no shame in missing a day here and there.
- Eat Healthily
It’s no secret that what you eat is a fundamental part of fitness, and your diet becomes even more critical if you’re breastfeeding. You want to fuel your body with mostly healthy, whole-grain foods. Try to choose foods from the following food groups as much as possible:
- Lean proteins (white meat chicken, turkey, salmon, cod)
- Legumes (lentils, chickpeas, beans)
- Vegetables (especially leafy green vegetables)
- Breads, cereals, and grains
Make sure to stay hydrated, get enough calories, and eat between three to six meals per day.
- Prioritize Your Well-being
It’s all too easy to get bogged down in the challenging moments of motherhood and let fitness go by the wayside. I encourage you to change the way you think about fitness. Reframing it as a priority instead of a luxury can make all the difference. Remember, the more you take care of yourself, the better you’ll be able to take care of your little one.
The bottom line? Make your well-being a priority, and everyone around you will benefit, too.