Seven ways on how busy parents can make time for exercise with babies, or kids at home. Build a plan, embed exercises into the routine and stay fit!
With times like these, when we are all home, due to the unfortunate COVID spread, it is challenging to find time to work out, especially if you have a baby or a young child. Besides, if you are working from home, it could be even trickier to exercise.
As for us, we have a three-year-old, and we have embedded exercise in our routines using the ways below. Because our son is little, most of our days are planned around him or work. Therefore, both my husband and I are flexible about our exercise plans and keep looking for more ways to stay active.
Depending upon the age group of the child, you may need to modify the notes below. I hope the post is of use to you.
How can exercise help us?
In anxious times like these, exercise and meditation are much needed to keep us mentally and physically fit. Exercise releases hormones called endorphins, which relax our minds and thereby keep worry at bay.
Therefore, if we can manage to dedicate some time for a workout daily, that’s great for our mental and physical health. If not, we can use the following hacks to keep ourselves active all day long.
Write down your “WHY do I want to exercise?”
Before reading further, please take a moment to write down or think about “Why would you want to exercise?” Getting the ‘whys’ clear makes half-the-job done!
Here is an excellent talk on the relevance and importance of having our reason behind something clear. If you are interested in watching more inspirational talks, you may like this post where I had curated TED talks for wellness.
Sleep well to exercise well
If we don’t sleep well, our motivation and the will to get up and get going plummets. So, sleep well to nourish the cells in your body, which in turn can help you to be motivated enough to move. Rest well to be active; sounds like an oxymoron but we know that it isn’t! Sleep is a pre-requisite to stay active.
In this post, I don’t discuss how much and which exercises one should do. Instead, it is about how to carve time out to incorporate exercises in your daily schedules. Again, the exercises per se are subject to your judgment, strength level, comfort level and your specific situation.
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1. Write down a simple Exercise Plan
Please identify the exercises you like. I like to put a mix of stretching, strength, walking, and meditation on the plan. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate plan. A simple set of exercises and repetitions/duration of each should help.
Also, you can come back and revise them as often! My exercise plan has lunges, squats, bicep curls, meditation, yoga, and walk: all bite-sized and spaced apart throughout the day.
2. Adopt the Alarm technique
This one is my favorite and most straightforward technique. I put an alarm for various of my favorite (and challenging) exercises, meditation, walk, stretching, etc. on my alarm clock, each 1-2 hours apart, and spread them throughout a day.
With each workout, I set pleasant music to keep it fun and not intimidating.
3. Build Squatting into the routine
Squat when possible, say when you have to pick up something from the floor. Picking up toys, for instance, which is highly likely when you have a toddler or a young child. Instead of bending, squat! If you are working from home, you could get up and squat a few times.
Squatting helps strengthen our leg muscles. It might be challenging in the beginning, but gradually, one gets the grasp of it.
4. Make your child your coach
Another way that has worked for me is to ask my son to suggest exercises. He usually suggests challenging ones!
Also, I ask him to count my reps backward: “10, 9, …, 0, now lets play”! He doesn’t always like to do that, but a few times is good enough :)!
5. Meal-Prep to reduce daily cooking time
If we meal-prep (meals or ingredients) once a week, the cooking time, every day, goes down significantly. So, that time can go into the exercise time budget. Cooking from scratch every day can be time-consuming, especially during these days.
I have a post on “10 vegetarian meal-prep ingredients,” which can be of use to you. Of course, it is subject to limited availability these days.
6. Play “Who runs faster” with your child
At least once a day, run and race with your child. “Let’s run and see who reaches the other end sooner?” is an excellent activity to engage your child and give you a little cardio.
7. Take turns to workout
Taking turns between people at home is an excellent way for everyone to stay active. One could watch, play with the child while the other gets to flex those muscles. I had discussed the importance of working out for parents in another post on “our 5 slips in first two years of parenting,” as well.
A Parting Note
In a nutshell, if we prioritize exercising and staying active, we can indeed find ways to do so. I hope the post is of use to you, and you remain active and healthy!
I hope we all stay healthy, stay home, and stay calm!