Crystal, I’m curious if you worked out as regularly as you do now with young children? How did you manage your time when your kids were in a more time-demanding stage? I am pregnant and have a 2-year-old at home — the former keeps me up all night with dance parties in my stomach & the lovely toddler still doesn’t sleep through the night.
I’m working 2 days a week now (down from 5-7 in residency… hooray!), but still can’t manage to pull myself out of bed before my child wakes up (usually 5:30-7:30 a.m. time range) after being up 2-3 times a night. I’m just wondering if you have any tips on how to fit it “all in” when exhaustion & time aren’t on my side right now? -JLyn
I thought this was a great question to address as exercise is the focus for January as part of the 12 Months to a Healthier You Challenge. Here are some of my thoughts:
Make It a Priority
If you don’t make exercise a priority, there’s a very good chance it’s not going to happen. It takes dedication, motivation, and commitment to stick with consistent exercising. But it is so worth it — not only because you’ll probably feel better, but you’ll also have more energy!
When I had young children, I found that I had to exercise first thing in the morning or it just seemed like it wouldn’t happen. Before I knew it, the day would be over with, I’d be exhausted and ready for bed, and I hadn’t exercised yet again.
Practical Ideas For Making Exercise Happen With Young Children
- Use a Playpen — When I had a baby or a young child, I’d often put them in the playpen with a few special toys to play with in the same room while I exercised. This will usually buy you at least 10-20 minutes’ worth of exercise time if your child can’t climb out of the playpen yet!
- Do It Together — If I don’t get exercise in before my children get up, they often exercise with me. In fact, just this morning, Kaitlynn and Silas did my entire hour of P90X with me. They had a blast trying to do the exercises with me and it was so fun to do it with them — and I got in a great workout, too!
- Take Advantage of Naptime — If you are energetic enough to not lie down and take a nap while your child naps, this can be a good time to get in a quick workout.
- Turn on a Movie — When my children were really little, I sometimes would plan their movie time to coincide with my exercise time.
- Have a Basket of Special Toys — Another fun way to keep children occupied is to put together a basket of special toys that they can only play with while you exercise. You could even create Day of the Week Tubs specifically for them to use during your exercise time.
- Play Outside Together — Go outside and get some fresh air. Play tag or swing on the swing set at the park. It might not be a strenuous workout, but it will be something. And something is always better than nothing!
- Go on a Walk — Strap your child in a stroller and go on a brisk walk around the neighborhood. Too cold to walk outside? Head to the mall or another indoor location and walk.
Give Yourself Grace
Now that I’ve given you some ideas that worked for me, I want to leave you with this reminder: give yourself grace in this season, JLyn. You have your hands full — and you are nurturing a baby inside of you.
If you’re exhausted, sleep. If you only have energy to do a 10-minute workout DVD or play with your child at the park, that’s okay.
Don’t beat yourself up over what you can’t do. Just do the best you can do and be free from guilt!