When I added my second child to our family I was faced with a big challenge: Two totally opposite sleep/wake schedules, leaving me thinking, how in the world do I get a work-out in? I kept thinking things would get easier as the baby fell into more of a sleep schedule, but he has proved to beat to his own drum and does not take the naps his older, 3 year old, brother does. In the past, I could wake up early and work-out before my son woke up. He is like clockwork and very, very rarely wakes up before 7am. With the second, who is now 10 months, I am still up one or two times during the night soothing a crying baby, doing cry-it-out, or working through the dreaded sick bug that always seems to last no less than two weeks at our house. Between travel, visitors, illnesses, and life in general, my 5:15am work-out routine disappeared. So I tried to switch to working out during the boys’ afternoon naps. This is also a challenge because nap time was typically when I could do some laundry, dishes, or get dinner prepped for the evening. By the time both kids are asleep, I have about 30 minutes to rush out to the garage, get my equipment ready, and work-out. Often, one of the kids wakes up before I’m done and I throw that one in a stroller and run three or four driveways up and back several times just to feel like I got a full work-out.
This may not be exactly your challenge, but between family, work, travel, and life in general, finding time to work-out when you have a busy lifestyle and schedule can be a challenge for many, not just moms. So I thought I would put together some tips and ideas from other busy people, for how we can combat our crazy schedules to fit exercise into our day, and be thankful for the rare days that the work-out gods shine down on us and we get to finish a WOD. Some of these will pertain more to stay-at-home moms or parents in general, but many are good suggestions for anyone with a busy lifestyle.
- Make your garage or home gym kid friendly. Read more about a kid friendly work-out environment here.
- Work-out during your lunch (or any) break.
- Wake up an hour earlier than your day typically “begins” to work-out.
- Wear your work-out clothes all day (if your schedule allows) so you can easily jump into a work-out when you have the opportunity.
- Tabata anything. Tabatas are great when you have short pockets of time throughout your day.
- Some days, any activity is good activity, even if it’s just some air squats, sit ups, burpees, and push-ups. Something is always better than nothing.
- “Wake up & Get Moving” morning routine: As you wait for your shower to heat up complete 25 air squats, 20 sit ups, and 15 push ups.
- Start with a morning mini-WOD that’s closer to a warmup to get the day going. You can do it at home so all the travel time is cut out. Treat it like a tough warmup. It only takes 10-15 minutes but makes you feel better and be more productive all day.
- Always have the appropriate clothing in your car so you can change and WOD in short notice. You can pack an extra bag that stays in your trunk. WOD when you can and always be prepared.
- Think “Mini-WODs:” Doing a couple/few small WODs per day can make you feel better than one really tough one.
- Make your time at the gym count. Workout while you’re there and don’t get caught just hanging out.
- Find a work-out buddy (neighbor, friend, family member). This is not someone you will work-out with. This is someone who you can trade baby sitting with so you can both get a WOD in. They may not need the time to work-out while you watch their kids. Maybe they just need an hour to run to the grocery store. You’d be surprised how many busy moms just need one hour of someone watching their kid(s) so they can get something done.
- Enlist the help of your spouse. Maybe he gets Saturday WODs and you get Sundays, while the other watches the kids.
- Be flexible. Your routine and schedule may change every few months. Find what works for you and do the best you can.
- Remember, any work-out is a positive thing!
- Track your progress! You are more likely to make exercising a priority when you manage your progress. Download our free WOD Log Book to manage your work-outs here.
Here are a few more strategies from some busy moms:
- “I cut out my warmup (10 mins) by doing it while they are both awake in my living room. They love to watch and sometimes copy me. Then when they pass out I run out to my gym and get in as much as humanly mommy possible.” – Rachel M.
- “I think it’s the main reason CF moms live in their Lulu’s. I work part-time. Sometimes I can sneak in a workout or yoga session when the kiddo is at school. On days he’s with me (he’s almost 2), I’ll do some strict and light easy work while he plays in the garage. Or, I’ll work in a few asanas while we hang out in his playroom. I’ll wait until he’s napping to throw the heavy stuff. Sometimes I take advantage of small pockets of time throughout the day or incorporate a stroller run element if it works for us that day.” – Liz C.
- “I have a 19 month old and a 3 month old. I wear my lulu all day and if I don’t have a time to work-out when both are napping, I try and get air squats in while the older one is eating, play a game with lunges, and just do pushups when he’s playing. [Substitute] any exercise in any of those places. Also, use your stroller! It keeps both kids confined, even if it’s for 5 solid minutes to do something to get your heart rate up!” – Mary K.
- “I have 4 kids age 7-1 who are homeschooled. If it’s a workout I can do with them playing then I do. If not I wait for my husband. We have a whole setup at home so if it’s something I can do with them around I set them up with snacks and they play.” – Kayla A.
Here’s to getting in a WOD (even if it’s a little one)!
– Coach Aly
PS. I also enjoyed this article on 10 Habits of Highly Effective Exercisers.