How to Fit Exercise In With Kids (Without Losing Your Sanity)

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When it comes to healthy habits, often people use the excuse that they don’t have enough time. Myself included. And, as life spins on, time becomes more and more precious. Especially once you have kids. Before children, I easily hopped out of bed at 5:00 a.m., ran my 5K, and still had energy to bust out a barre workout.

I had my breakfast calmly right before leaving for work. It was a great schedule.

And on the weekends?

I used to run 5Ks for fun.


And then, I found out I was pregnant. Suddenly, exercise was hard. And not in the ways I thought it would be. I was tired, I felt heavy, and everything took extra effort.

I rode the exhaustion, and was so excited to exercise post-baby. But you know what? The exhaustion didn’t go away. Not getting a solid 8 hours of sleep for 12 months will really cramp your style. But sometimes, you just have to suck it up. And once I figured out that being tired was just part of the program, I was in a far better position to help myself.

After having kids (2 of them!), I’ve found that it’s far more important to model healthy behaviors and habits-because my boys pick up on them. So I decided that I needed to make time.


Change Is Hard


If you’re a new parent-or any kind of parent, for that matter-you have an understanding of the level of exhaustion that comes with two small kids. That being said, you also know that they think just about anything that they do with you is pretty amazing. This is a good thing for us moms because we can exercise with them and they think it’s a game.

I found that when I started to exercise, my son wanted to do it with me. He would actually pick out a workout DVD for us to “play” with in the mornings.


It’s All About Perspective


stressed out mom

When you become a parent, suddenly, there’s no more excess time. Every minute of the day is spent around your kids…or at least doing something related to your kids:

  • The baby’s sleeping, so it’s time for a nap.
  • The kids are occupied, time to make myself breakfast (at 1:00 in the afternoon).
  • The toddler just unrolled all of the toilet paper, and is eating it.
  • The kids are in bed, and so am I.
  • The kids are awake…and it’s 5:00 a.m.
  • The baby is awake…again…and the clock says 3:14 a.m.

…you get the idea. Even if they kids are in bed, likely we’re in recovery mode. Sleep, shower, and food are the first things that come to mind…at least, they used to. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids. They’re awesome. Seriously awesome.

But sweet as they are, they’ve made me realize that I have to take charge of things…ALL the things.

I’ve discovered that it’s imperative for me to schedule certain things into my day-like exercise. I am a self-admitted planner junkie. But I’ve found that unless I write it down, it just doesn’t happen. So I make sure that I record my workouts into my day.

And then I check them off when they’re done.


Flexibility Is Imperative


I tried writing down exactly which workout I had planned, if it was cardio or strength, and how long it should be. But you know what? I found myself stumbling. I grew frustrated, tired, and despondent.

It took my oldest son point blank telling, “Mama? You really need to workout. You’re cranky,” to realize that I needed to figure out how to make exercise a part of our routine. And for me, flexibility is key. I had to let go of my previous schedule: barre workouts on Monday, elliptical on Tuesday….

workout with baby

That type of strict schedule doesn’t work for me. And sometimes, I only have 20 minutes. So I strive for exercise every day…even if it’s only 20 minutes. In fact, I’ve found that thanks to HIIT, I am looking forward to my quick workout days.

I also count walks with my boys, chasing them around the back yard (for 30 minutes or so), and chores (as long as I’m doing squats, lunges, and the like) as “workouts” on challenging days. I can take the stairs two at a time, or lunge around the kitchen while I prepare lunch.

And speaking of lunch….


Learn To Plan


Perhaps my biggest ah-ha moment came when I actually started meal planning. I honestly don’t know what took me so long-maybe it was the mistaken impression that if you meal plan you have to eat the same thing 7 days in a row…or the thought that it was incredibly time consuming.

I’m here to tell you that it’s neither-and it will change your life. There are lots of different types of meal planning. I prefer to pre-make our breakfasts and lunches, and prep as much of dinner as is possible. I always make sure to pre-chop my onions, peppers, and the like.

My oldest helps me wash and bag fruits and veggies so that they are easy to grab snacks while I cook egg muffins, or a quiche for breakfast and Egg Foo Young or Spicy Tuna Cakes for lunch.

And you know what? The whole prep time (including my grocery store trip) usually takes less than 2 hours. That’s nothing in the grand scheme of things.


Meal prep also ensure that I stay “on plan” with my food. I don’t have to spend a lot of time making meals for myself and the boys, which means more time to play (and workout) during our days.

If I can do it, so can you. What’s holding you back?

BreaGettingFitBrea Gunn is a mom, wife, and entrepreneur, as well as the author of her own blog, BreaGettingFit, where she focuses on a positive outlook, choosing joy, and living in the moment.

She shares recipes, workout tips, thoughts on marriage, parenting, organizing, frugality, and her love of all things natural and good!

Thanks Brea for being an awesome sponsor!

Now, go show her some Not On a Diet love! 🙂
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  • I love this post! I had twins 2+ years ago and getting back into a workout routine was tough! I make it to the gym now 2 days a week and count that as “me” time. Plus, there’s always toddler jump squats. 😉