Getting to the gym can be hard enough under any circumstances, but when you are a stay-at-home mom to young children, it can be that much harder. The good news is you don’t have to go to a gym to get your fitness routine in. There are many other options. Two commonly recommended alternatives are walking or jogging with the kid(s) in a stroller, and using exercise videos. Both are good, and if they work for you, great – keep it up! If you are looking for some fresh ideas though, keep reading.
The great thing about kids and fitness is that they are natural movers. Have you tried to get a three year old to sit still? Can’t be done. It is something that is taught to us. Unfortunately, sometimes it is taught too well and we end up living a sedentary life that leads to a host of health problems, both physical and emotional. So take a cue from children and join in on the fun. Just 5-15 minutes of physical activity at a time scattered throughout the day can make a big difference in how you feel. It also helps the child(ren) by encouraging them to stay fit throughout their life. As a bonus, not only are you getting some exercise in, it is a great way to emotionally connect with your child(ren).
Here are some fun things you can do with children, whether they are your own or borrowed from another mom who really needs to have some alone time. Lace up your running shoes and have fun!
Tag – kids love tag! Add in some bobs and weaves as you try to avoid them tagging you for some extra giggles and to work your core.
Race – My son loves to race me. Sometimes we race up and down the hall, sometimes we race in the back yard, sometimes around the neighborhood. Racing is also great when you are trying to get them to leave somewhere: “Let’s race, I can get to the *fill in the blank* first!” (Not to be employed in parking lots.)
Dance Party – A favorite of all ages. You can hold a baby in your arms or in a sling while you dance away, and older kids love to see who can come up with the craziest moves. Get creative! Move your whole body to the music. Don’t limit yourself to what you would do if other adults were around, now is the time to just let it go. Grab a few scarves or large fabric scraps and use them to help you twirl, flirt and fly.
Ball – Go beyond the basic catch (or lack thereof) and add some moves on your end. Bounce up and down, hold in your core, get your upper body really involved. Sure you are only tossing that big foam ball three feet, but feel your muscles as you do it.
Simon Says – Go beyond the traditional “Simon says touch your nose.” Try something like “Simon says do jumping jacks.”
At the Park – There are plenty of opportunities to get some exercise in while you are at the park. Don’t just sit and watch, go hang from the monkey bars. My son loves to swing, and sometimes it can get a little boring standing there pushing. I discovered that if I do things like squat between each push, it makes it more fun. I may look a little funny to the other moms sitting on the benches talking, who cares? Yes, sometimes I am the mom sitting at the park. Sometimes the park is the only place I can sit. On days when I am feeling up to it though, I am right in there playing with him.
It doesn’t have to be an organized activity to get in some movement. I have been known to just spontaneously start marching in place while I am hanging out with my son. Sometimes we turn it into a contest to see who can raise their knees the highest. I do random ballet moves, squats, stretches, bouncing, whatever. Want a real leg workout? Hop everywhere you go for five minutes. Outside I sometimes use the curb like one of those steps that were so popular in aerobics classes a few years back. Up, down, up, down, up, down, “Stop poking people with sticks!” up, down, up, down . . .
You don’t even have to have kids to do these things. Try them at the office sometime. See what happens.
Get Creative! Have Fun! Stay Healthy!