Finding time to exercise without our kids often prevents us from working out. Here are 10 tips to exercise with kids:
1. Be Realistic. You probably aren’t going to have 90 minutes to spend on weights and the treadmill. Be serious about how much time you have, and then maximize it. Your workouts may have to be at home or pushing a stroller, but get real! You want to exercise, and your kids want to be with you.
2. Anything is better than nothing. Sometimes it feels like it’s not worth putting on clothes for 20 minutes of exercise. We all know the feeling that comes from getting the blood flowing and the body moving though, and it’s always worth it. Even if you only have 20 minutes, choose exercise!
3. Inform your Kids. Tell your kids what you will be doing. Are you going to find a video on TV, or go for a run? Let them know what will happen while you are exercising. Will you wear exercise clothes and move your body so that you feel better? Set the scene! Let them know that you enjoy it and it makes you happy. Tell them that you hope they will exercise with you, and that if not they can cheer you on, or play with the activities you have put out for them.
4. Give your Kids Stuff to do. Maybe your children won’t want to exercise with you or cheer you on. They probably still want to be near you, though. Find a spot in the same room as you, and keep them close. Put out a blanket with a few activities on it. Things like coloring books, comic books, lacing beads, a tablet, or other things that they can do on their own will give them something to do while you workout.
5. Talk to your Kids while you are working out. Ask your children how they are doing or what they are playing with. Say “hi” and tell them that you love them. This way they will still know that you are there for them and available- even though your attention is on the screen or the pavement.
6. Make sure they have snacks and water. Think ahead of time about what your kids might need during your workout and prepare them before you start. A water bottle, snacks, and a trip to the potty may ensure that you get your full workout!
7. Involve your Kids: Have them choose and lay out their workout clothes the night before too (what do you mean you don’t lay out your clothes the night before?! Didn’t you ever watch Oprah?!). Ask them if they want to wear sneakers and socks or bare feet. Find out what kind of workout they might like to do- dance, boot camp, or kickboxing. While you’re working out, high five them and remember that you are working out together! Be conscious of not acting like they are in the way.
8. Don’t Put it Off. If you and your kids are both ready, exercise right away. Otherwise it might loom over your whole day. You may delay the park or the grocery store and fill the time with unnecessary tasks in the interest of procrastination. Not only does this rob you of the benefits of feeling good all day, but it shapes the day for your kids.
9. Know when to Pass. If your child is sick, or having a really tough time, the chances of getting a workout in without damaging your relationship are slim. Don’t become so obsessed with getting your workout in that you lose sight of reality! Some days it just won’t work. Don’t let it ruin your day (don’t let it be an excuse either!).
10. Set yourself up for Success. If you really want to to work out consistently with your kids, have a plan. Think about how that block of time will go, and prepare for it. Remember that your kids love you and want to be with you, and that the whole point of exercising this way is so that you can be with them! Adjust and plan accordingly.
If you are realistic and prepared, it is possible to exercise with kids. Before you know it, your children may be the ones pointing out that you have not exercised yet today!
Click here for “30 Days of Workouts for Women and Men with Children”!