6:00 am in person wake up call by my 2 year old…
closely followed by his two older siblings. Breakfast, clothes, pack lunch, pack snack, wash up, school drop off for the older kid then several hours with my two boys before I head to work for a couple hours then back to school for a pick up then home to finish the afternoon with my older child who was gone all day, then dinner, (sometimes work again), wash up, bed time, house cleanup, then…… A couple hours to myself spent with either my husband or catching up on things I didn’t manage to get done during the day. Rarely do those couple hours after the kids bedtime involve fitness. So how do I stay fit? How does a busy parent manage to stay fit and healthy when caring for young children most of the day, working for some of it, and nourishing her relationship with her partner at the same time?
After years of struggling I feel like I have finally found my groove.
The point of this post here is not to tell you to make a schedule and stick to it. Most people can do that. Then it’s just a matter of commitment and sticking to your own schedule. No, the point of this post is to share with you how I fit in bouts of fitness in my day to day in order to keep my blood pumping, my body moving, my muscles active and my limbs stretched, without me having to carve out extra time from my already too busy schedule to go to the gym.
Here are 5 things that work great for me, and that I try to stick to 80% of the time. Because for me perfection, is about giving myself flexibility to not be 100% at all times. Being perfectly imperfect is how I manage to live my life with ease and get the results I want.
1. I move with my kids regularly.
Children are active by nature. Most of them need a good amount of movement everyday to feel good. Adults are the same but we have somehow become disconnected from that notion that for too many adults now, moving their bodies feels like a chore. Tap in to your children’s energy and use it as your own. Do you have a house that allows for running in it? The layout of our house makes it that we can run around from room to room in a circle, and we can do that for as long as our hearts and lungs can take it.* Do you go to the beach? Run with them there. Do they ride bikes on the sidewalk? Do lunges next to them.
2. I have a “two exercise rule” at the playground.
Every time I go to the playground with my kids, I make a point of doing two exercises there. Pushups at the sand box, squats at the swing, pull ups at the monkey bars, planks at the seesaw, etc…. Often those two exercises turn into 5 or 8 or more depending on my mood and energy. But if I at least do 2 I feel great about sticking to my rule and moving my body at least a little bit.
3. Stretch, stretch, stretch.
Flexibility is extremely important, and I really wish I could take 10 yoga classes a week (well 4 would be enough), but I am just not prioritizing that at the moment, so instead I fit in flexibility where and when I can. Again, the playground is great place to do it. Throw my leg up on the bench while the kids are having a snack, do a downward dog while they are playing in the sandbox, you get the idea. I also sit in strategic positions when I am sitting with them on the floor playing with Legos or making a puzzle. I frequently stretch in my kitchen. If I am waiting for something in the oven or on the stove, just a couple minutes in downward dog are better than none!
4. Dance parties!!!!!
Which kid doesn’t love dance parties?? We have several a week and not only is it good for the heart and soul, it is also great for bonding with my family. I always throw in a few lunges and squats in there, and more often than not I will be tossing my kids around, dancing with them on my shoulders, swinging them around and doing all kinds of stuff that positively add to my body’s well being and strength.
We are very outdoorsy people. If you are not, I encourage you to become that. I will not go into the benefits of being out in nature in this post because that kind of thought deserves a post of its own. But nature is great for the spirit, for bonding with your family and for being active. Find hikes in your area that are manageable for your kids, and if they aren’t, invest in a great hiking backpack and take on the work of doing challenging hikes with your kid on your back! Extra fitness bonus with this one.
What it comes down for me is that I make a point of moving my body most chances I get. It’s pretty much second nature to me at this point. Sitting on the bus I bring my ankle up on my opposite knee and I slightly bend forward in order to stretch out my piriformis. Waiting for water to boil I do a few pushups on my kitchen floor or a plank. Kids taking for ever to brush their teeth, I do a wall squat. Some people kill time by scrolling on their phone, I kill time by tuning in to my body and responding to what it tells me in that moment. Sometimes it’s jumping jacks or jump lunges, sometimes it’s a forward bend, and sometimes it’s being still and breathing.
Fitness for a busy parent can fit your life too.
So there you have it, my top 5 ways as a busy parent I manage to stay active without feeling like I am needing to take time out of my day just for that. With that said, if you are a person who loves being at the gym or wants to spend their solo time devoted to fitness, good for you and enjoy! You can still add these tips to your lifestyle in order to maximize your regular body movement. Because really that’s what it’s all about: it’s about moving our bodies regularly in order to feel our best.
- Aurore Nicolier is a happy busy active mother in San Francisco. You can get in touch with her for more info on training and a healthy diet through Facebook.
* from Mike Luque: It’s totally true. I love going to their house. It’s action, action, action!