Once you have children, fitting in a quick trip to the gym or an evening stroll becomes more difficult. Regardless of your motivation to exercise, you have to work it in around the needs of your children as well.
That’s not to say parents should give up on exercising whilst their children are young, quite the contrary in fact. Parents need to exercise at least as much as other adults because
- They need to be fit enough to keep up with and chase their children!
- It is a great way of getting some child free time
- It teaches children the value of exercise
- Parents need to be healthy to best care for their children
- It can be a great release for frustration, instead of taking it out on the children
- It builds self esteem
Formalised exercise may be much harder to fit into your life as a parent, but there are many other ways to exercise than going to a gym.
- Go for a walk. Babies and toddlers love being pushed in a pram, and it’s a great way to settle them when crying. Older children will walk with you – it may be slower but its fun and still counts as exercise if you do enough of it.
- Put on some music and dance! Kids love music and will love you dancing with them. You can swap between kids’ music and your own boppy choices. Fifteen or twenty minutes a day is a great workout for you whilst also building relationships with your children.
- Lift some weights. Grab some tins of food from the cupboard and lift them! A simple activity you can do when watching TV, talking on the phone or even surfing the net. It all helps you to move your body.
- Play active games with the children. Games of chasey, cricket, footy, leap frog and ring-a-ring-a-rosie are just a few examples of fun family exercise. Or why not try the hokey pokey?
- Walk instead of driving. Many people get in the car and drive out of habit. Sometimes, leave a little earlier and walk to the health centre, the milk bar, the kinder, the school or the park.
- Play in the park. So many times in the park parents will sit and watch the kids play. Just for a change, why don’t you have a play, too? Swinging is great exercise when you get going, or you can just run around with the kids and scramble up ladders and climbing bars.
- Walk and watch. Go for a walk or jog around the playground whilst your children play. Try giving your child a push on the swing, lapping the equipment and giving the next push. Toddlers love seeing you walk past and waving as they play!
- Exercise together. A baby can lie on your tummy or legs as you exercise on the floor each day, and become the weights for arm exercises. Older children will mimic you doing exercises or yoga, which is fun to watch. Be creative and make your exercises fun – don’t do squats, walk around as a monster.
- Ignore the ads. During the ads on TV, get up and move around the room, do some stretches or maybe some sit ups instead of sitting on the couch being bored. It will freshen you up and the ad breaks are long enough now you can fit a lot of movement into each one hour show!
- Help out. Whether its tuckshop duty at school, going on excursions, helping at working bees or kinder duty, you will be moving around as well as contributing to your child’s life.
- Move during classes. When the kids have classes and activities, do something yourself. For instance, swim some laps during their swimming class, walk laps of the footy oval during training (watch out for the embarrassed “Oh, MUM!” though,) walk around the block where the dance school is, go up and down the stairs or wheel (bike, skate, skateboard, etc) around the nearby park.
- Go on bike rides. By yourself, with kids alongside or kids on your bike, riding is great exercise that can be shared with the family.
- Stand up to do some tasks – it requires more work than sitting! Maybe check your emails, watch the news, flick through the junk mail, talk on the phone and write your shopping list without sitting down.
- Have fun with the housework by dancing as you vacuum, racing the children to hang up clothes from the washing or balancing on one foot to dust. You’ll get the kids keener to help this way, too!
And, of course, there is always the exercise you will get from carrying all the kids’ stuff when you go out, picking up their belongings around the house and when you forget the pram!
Tash Hughes is a Mum of two in Melbourne. She is also a writer and owner of Word Constructions. Tash is available to write articles and profiles for any business, as well as doing other business documentation projects. You can see her site and services at www.wordconstructions.com