I had to work really hard to get my workout in this morning. In a perfect world, it would have been first thing in the morning. But, you know, I like my sleep.
The baby woke me up at 7 today. I changed her diaper, nursed her, fed the dog, let him out, restarted the dryer from the night before, etc. etc. It was probably 7:45 before I actually got my sports bra on. By the time I got my computer set up and got distracted watching videos about the newest addition to the British royal family, it was totally 7:55.
I finally got focused and got the baby set up with her toys. I huffed and puffed through half of the warm up when I realized I had to go to the bathroom.
Made it through another 4 minutes before Olivia fell over from her sitting position and had to be readjusted with new toys. Back at it again. A few minutes later I hear Alayna stirring upstairs. Ugh, maybe she’ll be alright playing in her bed for a few minutes so I can get through this before the breakfast chaos.
Back to my jumping jacks.
Note to self to find a workout more suited to my post-children bladder muscles.
Now the baby’s bored again. New toys.
Hit play for 30 more seconds.
Nope, still crying.
I try to do a few squats with the babe in my arms. Only 8 minutes left in this video, surely I can get through this. OK, nope the baby is leaping out of my arms in the midst of my lunges.
I give up for the moment and go get Alayna out of bed for breakfast. After I got everyone fed and dressed and Olivia down for her morning nap, I did actually get to finish my workout while Alayna watched.
It only took me, you know, two hours and ten minutes to get through my 31 minute exercise video. And that’s pretty much what an average day of me trying to fit working out into my life as a mom looks like.
If you’re a busy mom like me, working out is probably one of the last things on your mind. You have a zillion other responsibilities caring for your home and little munchkins, and I’m guessing if you get a free moment to yourself, the last thing you want to spend it doing is huffing and puffing through an exercise video. But alas, it’s an important part of healthy, balanced living.
Here are a few things I do to stay consistent with my workouts:
1. Prep your exercise routine the night before!
I cannot brain in the morning.
I try to make it easy on my morning self and spend a couple minutes choosing a workout video or planning a running route and checking the weather the night before.
If I’m feeling especially on top of things, I layout my clothes too. It’s a lot easier to get up and go if everything is already decided for me than it is to hem and haw while I’m still in bed “Should I run? Wait is it supposed to rain today? …I think my running shorts are dirty.”
That, my friends, is a recipe for falling right back to sleep and accomplishing nothing.
2. Give yourself motivation to workout
The very best case scenario is where I get up before the children and get my workout in before they wake up. I was actually pretty good about this before I had my second kid, but now with having two of them and being up all night long nursing, it just doesn’t happen.
So, next best thing, I don’t let myself get a shower before I do my workout for the day. I know not everyone showers daily, but I definitely don’t feel like myself until I’ve gotten a shower, so this is good motivation for me.
Figure out what you might be able to withhold from yourself until you get a workout in and and use that as motivation! Wait to eat breakfast or don’t let yourself check social media until you’ve worked out. Whatever works for you.
3. Enjoy your workout! Don’t push too hard.
Find something you enjoy doing for exercise. With kids, options are definitely limited, but even something as simple as a brisk 30 minute walk is good for you AND the kids! Don’t underestimate the benefits of walking.
A lot of people hate exercise because they push themselves too hard and don’t like the way that feels. Is it good for your body to workout that hard? Sure, but it’s a lot better to push yourself only to a point that you’re willing to do on a regular basis.
Don’t feel like you have to push yourself to the point where you feel like you’re going to pass out or its not worth doing. Doing moderate workouts on a consistent basis is SO much better than the one high intensity workout that you do once and then hate it so much that you never do it again.
For example, if I go for a run, sometimes I’ll let myself walk up the hills, especially if I’m pushing both girls in the stroller.
Could I make it up the hill without stopping? Sure. Would an Olympic athlete stop and walk? No, but I have no Olympic goals. I have nothing to prove to anyone. I’m just trying to stay healthy and have fun while I do it.
And running uphill on my fourth mile with two kids in tow just isn’t always enjoyable.
4. Take a break.
I give myself a mid-week break for my workouts. I only workout Monday/Tuesday and Thursday/Friday. That way, when I wake up on Monday morning dreading my workout, I can tell myself that if I just get through today and tomorrow’s workouts, I get a break after that. The same goes for Thursday/Friday because I don’t usually workout on the weekends.
I know myself, and I know that if I worked out five or six days a week, I would get burnt out and give up all together. Some people might say I’m being a pansy about it and I should exercise every day, but I’d rather workout four days a week than none!
5. Vary Your Routine
Change it up! Nothing will kill workout motivation faster than being bored with your routine. If you decide you want to get in shape, don’t set out to just go for a run five days a week. That’s way too boring.
Maybe you’ll start the week out with a run or brisk walk, but then on Tuesday stick with the climate controlled indoors and do an strength training workout video. Give yourself a break on Wednesday, like I do. Then on Thursday, find a Zumba or spin class to go to to really shake things up. Finish up on Friday with Pilates, and before you know it, the week of workouts is already done!
Varying your routine makes it so much more pleasant and gives you something to look forward to rather than dread.
6. Just Get Started
The hardest part of any workout routine is getting off the couch. The most important thing you can do is just show up on a consistent basis. If you can get through a whole workout from there, awesome! But if you get started and find yourself having to pause every 30 seconds to take care of children and it takes you half an hour to get through the first 5 minutes of your workout video, give yourself a break!
Be proud of yourself for showing up, and hope for a better day tomorrow. As long as days like this are the exception rather than the norm, it’s totally fine.
Whatever you do, don’t give up! Being consistent is the most important thing you can do. My workout this morning (or every morning, for that matter) wasn’t perfect by any means. But by at least trying to get that workout in everyday, more often than not I succeed. I got it done today, and I got to model persistence and healthy living to my daughters, and I think there’s huge value in that.
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Melinda worked with children for years in a professional setting before becoming a full-time stay at home mom. She currently has three young children, and enjoys sharing tips and ideas about parenting and how to manage a home with excellence. She’s been featured on Heathline and Her View From Home.