Gone are the days when we can head to the gym whenever we want and stay as long as we want to get our workouts in. Although this is true, it is still equally as important to get our workouts in so we can feel our best. Self-care is non-negotiable for mom’s. Have you noticed a difference in your mood when you don’t get the time to fit in your workouts? I don’t know about you, but I am not fun to be around and I strongly dislike the way I lose my temper quicker with the kids— it is more about the lack of self-care than it is about their behavior. When we take the time to take care of ourselves, it makes us better Mom’s and keeps us feeling less stressed and overwhelmed.
Research has proven that working up a sweat has way too many benefits to be ignored. Working out in any form is one of the best ways to take care of ourselves and a huge reason why you should start to prioritize it now.
Also Related: Tips for Fitting Exercise into Your Busy Schedule
When you don’t have child care or someone to help watch the kids for you daily, it may feel like getting any type of workout in is impossible. But, it isn’t. All it takes is a little creativity, patience, and some trial and error. Before you know it, you will be consistently getting in your workout and your kids will be looking forward to their activity time too. *disclaimer* if you have kids, you know how it doesn’t go exactly how you plan everytime, so always manage your expectations, but never lower them!
Here are nine things that can keep your kids busy while you work out.
It is nice to have fun activities that engage the kiddos and at the same time are educational. I love the worksheets from education.com because you can print off a wide range of activities for all ages. it is nice because a basic membership is completely free and you get a limited amount of access to content each month, which the limit resets each month! Here are a few examples— This Summer themed outdoor activity words tracer worksheet is excellent practice for developing pencil grasp, and learning letter sounds! The tracing shapes activity is one Marlie loves and does often and she gets better every time. You can find more educational worksheets at education.com.
2. SNACK/MEAL TIME
A lot of times, I will plan my workouts around the kids snack time or lunch time. That way they are busy eating and enjoying their food, while I am enjoying workout on the patio. I have an example of how I was doing a workout while my son Jax was eating lunch here. You can engage them while you workout and keep seconds on hand in case they need a refill!
Also related: 22 Healthy Snack box Ideas You and Your Kids Will Love
3. ARTS AND CRAFTS
The key to be successful when setting up arts and crafts for your kids is to pick an activity wisely—one that is age appropriate and that they can do without your help and without making a huge mess that will stress you out after your workout. Some things that have been successful with Marlie (2 years old) are coloring, sidewalk chalk, cutting paper with safe scissors, reusable stickers, and playing with Play-Doh. These could keep my kiddos busy for a long time. I always have multiple pieces of paper on hand and I have found this to be pretty successful.
If you have a gym that has a kid area or a park with a grassy field, get out and meet a friend who has littles too. My best friend and I meet up multiple times a week whether it is at the gym, a park or beach, with our kids to workout together. We load up on snacks and toys and fit in everything we can while the kids play. We will even take turns if the kids are starting to reach their breaking point and help each other finish-up our sets! It is more fun to do it together and the kids get to all play and have fun…most of the time ;-)
5. SENSORY BINS
You can make sensory bins out of dry beans, spoons, and cups—water beads, scoopers, water animals—rainbow rice with letters— the possibilities are endless and have so much fun exploring textures. I can get a good 30 minutes workout in with the sensory bins!
This is most likely better for older kids who are independent readers, but a lot of times Marlie (my 2 year old) will be in the mood to look at some of her favorite books and go through pages making up her own little stories. Maybe you will get lucky too if your toddler may be satisfied looking at pictures in books while you exercise. However, most times my kids are asking me to come read the books to them before my workout is over.
7. TV TIME
When worse comes to worse, you can throw on an episode of Sesame street or your kids favorite show and fit in as much as you can in that time. I have yet to do a movie with Marlie, but eventually it might be nice to let her watch a movie and then do a workout and get some time to myself. Don’t always resort to TV or phone, I promise you you’ll thank me later. Too much screen time can be detrimental to their development, so try all of the other activities first. Trust me, there are some times where I just need a distraction and so Seasame Street it is, but I do try and keep it to only 30 minutes a day, but we aren’t perfect.
8. BLOCK TIME
I don’t know about you, but my kids are obsessed with blocks. Whether it is our big wooden blocks, our melissa and doug cardboard blocks, magnetic tiles or legos, they could build towers and knock them over all day. My 2 year old will build a tower and then my 1 year old loves to knock it down, they have turned it into a game. If you have an older kiddo, you can give them specific instructions on what to build and tasks to keep them busy..
9. INCLUDE THE KIDS WORKOUT
Some days, the kids will just insist on being with you- no matter what type of alternate activity you offer while you work out. On these days, I have found that including the kids is the only way i’ll get a workout in. Letting your kids see you take care of your body is an amazing example. It teaches them that you have and fulfill your needs outside of theirs. It also shows them that taking care of your body is normal-even after becoming a mom. Some kids will do great just following along with your normal workout. If that doesn’t work, try one this fun kid friendly banded workout lead by my daughter Marlie. I even have kid weights that Marlie and Jax love to use and throw around while I train clients or workout myself.
I hope you have found these 10 things helpful and become inspired to try and complete a workout with your kids or share it with a mommy friend to help her out. Remember, you may have to try a few different things a few times before your littles cooperate. But with a little luck, and a well planned out workout, you can finally start to fit in more workouts into your routine and start to take care of YOU! you’ve got this Mom’s!