When we become parents, our entire lives change. The time that used to be spent doing things for ourselves is now spent taking care of others. One of the first things that most new parents sacrifice is our own exercise regimen. After all, we only have a few precious hours when our child might be napping and we’re probably exhausted or simply want to have a few moments of silence to relax or clean the kitchen that’s been destroyed by the latest craft project and lunch. However, when we don’t make time for our own health, we can’t be everything we need to be.
A consistent exercise routine not only provides us with the additional energy that we severely lack but it can also give us a sense of pride and control over our day. The benefits of routine exercise are many and even include a reduction in stress levels which is important after a particularly hard day with a cranky toddler. Parents can know that while the majority of our day will be centered around our children’s needs, there are 30 minutes during the day that is specifically for us. Learn more about the benefits of routine exercise.
First, let’s discuss a few myths about exercise that a lot of parents believe that actually hold us back from successfully starting an exercise routine.
Myths About Exercise Effectiveness:
- MYTH: If you don’t spend at least 60 minutes exercising, then it’s not worth it. TRUTH: Even a 30 minute moderately paced walk is enough to benefit your heart, reduce stress, and build muscle. Double points if the kiddos can come with you too! Later we will address the most effective workouts.
- MYTH: If I am not a member of a gym with all the equipment, I can’t get a full workout in. TRUTH: You can get a full-body workout with no equipment and very little space. If you have a 7×7 open space in your house, you can get one of the best workouts of your life!
- MYTH: If I work out in my house, it will wake up my children. TRUTH: There are workouts specifically catered to those who need to be quiet in case they’re in a hotel room or an apartment with people below them. Don’t want to upset the neighbors or the children!
- MYTH: I have to spend lots of money on an exercise program. TRUTH: You don’t have to! We will share great exercise videos and sites that cost nothing to utilize!
The reality of exercising while at home with children doesn’t have to be as complicated as we think. There are two options – either to determine a time in your day, perhaps during naptime or after your children’s bedtime when you can take 30 minutes to exercise or you can include your children in the exercise you need and make it fun for the whole family.
Here are some tips and resources for those who are able to carve out 30 minutes in your day for a workout.
First, I know we don’t want to hear this but you may have to get up a little bit earlier in the morning or let the dishes sit in the sink after the kids go to bed. The dishes will be there for a while but your health is more important. An important tip is to set yourself up for success! Find a time when it’s extremely likely that you will have 20-30 minutes uninterrupted. If you have only a short period of time, you want to make the most out of what you have. High-Intensity Interval Training or HIIT is a great way to burn the most calories in the shortest period of time. Learn more about the science behind HIIT here.
Second, take advantage of the resources available online that are available at no cost. There are plenty of groups that have websites or Youtube videos that provide fun, short, and effective workouts. From Yoga and Pilates to Dance and Cardio, you can find it all!
Perhaps your children are past the age of routine naps. That might cut down on your free time but it means that they are probably old enough to participate with you! Make routine family walks a part of your day. Put on a dance routine and have them try to follow along with you. You can also get creative and incorporate your children into your routine literally. Try to hold them and do your squats or let them giggle while they sit on your back for pushups. It will provide extra bonding time and it will be fun for everyone.
Healthy parents are happy parents who can run, play, and jump with their children with all the energy they deserve. While it may seem easier to put ourselves second, it may benefit everyone more if we try to put ourselves and our well being first more often. At the end of the day, it’s important to prioritize your health and wellness because we can’t be expected to be good parents, good employees, or to reach out goals without our health.