Finding time for a workout can be a serious challenge, especially with babies, younger kids, or when older kids are home from school. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, in fact, it’s far from it! There are plenty of ways to squeeze in a workout between laundry, chauffeuring, feeding, and everything else. Once a routine is established and works for the family, it’s surprisingly easy to continue. Here are some tips on how to find time for a workout, even when the kids are home (and awake).
Some of these strategies may be more or less realistic depending on the age of your kids, the level of adult support, and the resources of the local area. No matter the location and circumstances, there’s always a way to do some form of physical activity. Pick one or more of these strategies and find something that works for you!
12 Ways to Find Time for a Workout
Try a gym with childcare.
Many commercial gyms, fitness centers, and sports clubs offer childcare so parents can use the adult-only facilities. The accepted ages may vary, but some allow children as young as 3 months and as old as 11 years. Every minute not spent caring for kids is another minute to exercise.
Make it convenient with home workouts.
Sometimes, hitting the gym is just not going to work. In those situations, try to find time for a workout that requires less time. Home workouts eliminate drive time, parking, getting situated, and can be squeezed in on the spur of the moment. It seems a lot less overwhelming when the whole process only requires 20 minutes (of course more can be done if time allows). Whether it’s a treadmill, workout videos, weights, resistance bands, a suspension system, bodyweight exercises, or something else, there’s a lot to be said for the flexibility of working out at home.
Look for a gym with a play area.
Many military installations have gyms with play areas for kids. This is a designated section of the gym for babies and kids to play while parents work out. They are not supervised by childcare personnel, so parents are responsible for watching their children. However, it may be easier than keeping them safe and occupied at home thanks to childproofing and a fresh supply of toys they get only during workouts.
Use the buddy system.
It’s common to have a buddy for accountability, but why not share the task of keeping an eye on the kids? Working out with a partner or friend allows for one to focus on a set while the other entertains kids or at least ensure safety. You may also want to join a group like Stroller Warriors or SLAM for some additional accountability—and to meet new people.
Head to a playground.
Have the kids been asking to go to the playground? This is the perfect opportunity to play tag, do pull-ups on the monkey bars, or run laps around the perimeter. It’s much easier to find time for a workout when it doubles as quality time with your kids.
Lead by example.
Kids who grow up in an active family are more likely to be active as adults. (And they’ll know how important it is to find time for a workout.) Whether it’s free-play or structured workouts, get the kids involved. Yoga is appropriate for all ages, young children can mimic with toy weights, older children can take part in structured workouts, and physical activity can be incorporated into games and activities for parents to break a sweat.
Invest in a stroller or bike trailer.
Sometimes there’s an adjustment period if babies and young kids don’t initially agree, but it’s well worth the persistence. The movement of a stroller or bike is calming and can soothe even the most intense meltdowns. The change of scenery can be entertaining. A good stroller can be used for walking, jogging, and even running.
Take advantage of camps, classes, and activities.
Many recreation centers have camps, classes, and activities for kids in addition to workout facilities. Instead of surfing social media while the kids are participating in their extracurricular activities, squeeze in a quick workout. Some YMCAs offer free and reduced membership for military families, so check it out!
Take on early mornings.
Waking up just 20 minutes before the kids can allow for an uninterrupted, peaceful workout at home. This doubles as alone time to recharge, get in a good mood, and start the day on a positive note before potential chaos. Sometimes, the only way to find time for a workout is to make the hard decision to wake up early.
Prioritize and schedule it like an appointment.
If working out is a priority it should be treated as such. How do we make time for important appointments? We schedule them, put them in the calendar, set alarms, and organize other things around them. If working out is important it should be no different! Blocking the time out on your calendar will help you find (and keep) the time.
Implement it in your daily life.
Sometimes walking, running, or biking is even faster than driving, especially if parking is an issue. Where do you go regularly that’s close to home? Maybe your body can power your commute to the commissary or dropping the kids off at school. As a bonus, you’ll save gas!
Make it a daily routine.
Consistency makes it easier. If you can find the time for a workout that works each and every day, you only have to find one section of “extra” time! Whether it’s first thing in the morning, right before lunch, or a regularly scheduled commute, being predictable allows the whole family to adjust and know what to expect.
Finding time for your workout can be easy with a little creativity and planning. Make sure you don’t let the other areas of your health and wellness slack off in the process–like sleep! It may take some extra effort initially but it will soon become your routine.
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