How do you find time to exercise when you're a mom? Circle of Moms member Stephanie L. is one of many who says it's almost impossible: “We have one child, and there are days when I feel like it's impossible to exercise because he might 'act up.' We live in a small home and there is only one room that I can work out. Also my husband is often out of the country and it's only me, so there just never seems to be the time.”
The challenge of fitting fitness into a mom’s already heavily subscribed life is a tough one. And sadly, as many Circle of Moms members report, the lack of exercise can pack on the pounds. A new study published in Social Science and Medicine finds that moms gain significantly more weight over time than women without kids. Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin found that by age 55, the average parent in their sample reached a BMI (Body Mass Index) of over 30, which is considered to be obese! In contrast, those without children had lower BMIs of between 25 to 29 at this age, which is considered overweight but not obese. Basically, being a mom makes you fatter.
So how do all those moms on the fitter end of the spectrum find time to exercise? Here are their secrets.
1. Utilize day care at the health club
Health clubs and YMCAs often include childcare for moms while they are onsite and exercising. “I live in a small home too and money is super tight for us right now,” says Kelly M. “So I ended up joining a local gym that is super cheap and now I am taking my son there with me and leaving him in the childcare room.” She admits it took some adjusting on her son’s part, but that it's been worth it. “It took him about a week and a half to adjust, and thankfully the childcare aide was patient and kind with him. I now take some aerobics classes there three times a week, so that’s now my time to exercise."
2. Exercise with your kids
If you can’t go it alone, figure out how to squeeze in some exercise – a walk, playing in the park, anything that gets you moving – with your kids. "I lift my kids and use them as weights to stretch and hold and it is fun for all of us,” says Shenna J. “Even just to get the strength in my arms is good for me, or I get out our stroller and go for jogs pushing my baby.”
Bethany E. also exercises with her kids in tow, in her stroller. "We have a footpath near our house that is good for walking, and I go about two miles one way then turn around," she says. "In the middle, there is a shopping center with a library, so we can stop in there if we need the loo, or need a break or a snack or a change. I don't like organized exercise anyway, and she learns all the colors and names of things and songs etc., along the way."
3. Find ways to motivate yourself
Trying to exercise when you’re busy taking care of kids and juggling work and home responsibilities requires a lot of motivation! "You have to work extra hard to find creative ways to motivate yourself," says Dawn D. “It is so easy to want to rest when you have some free time. But I find when I really push myself, I feel better.” She says she tries to walk every other morning with her son in his stroller. She also says she has found ways to motivate him for this too.”We are lucky to have a small church swing set nearby so it gives my son a reason to stay in the stroller without acting up.”
4. Work out at home during naps and school times
Moms who can’t make the break from the house – and the kids – to exercise should consider setting up an indoor gym, exercising to DVDs or purchasing some equipment for home. “I was lucky to get a treadmill for my birthday,” says Adrienne E., a mother of twins whose husband is in Iraq. “Everyday I put the babies down for their nap at 11 am and I run 5.5 miles on the treadmill (I didn't start at this, I had to work up to it). This takes me exactly 63 minutes to accomplish. Then I do abs on a big workout ball for 10 minutes, then a quick shower. By 12:30 I'm done with my workout and feeding the babies their lunch. I have lost 30lbs in the last three months by doing this routine, and [I am] completely happy because I am back to the weight I was two-and-a-half years ago when I met my husband. I know treadmills aren't cheap, but if you think about a gym membership being about $50 a month compared to a $400 treadmill, plus the convenience of it being in your home, it is well worth the money."
Many Circle of Moms members say they try to make the most of their children’s nap and school times, and try to be ready to swing into exercise action the second a baby nods off for his afternoon nap. When Megan L.'s daughter was still napping, she would do her workout during her longest daytime nap, which was in the afternoon.
5. Exercise at night
It’s tough to find the energy after a busy day with kids, work and other responsibilities, but some Circle of Moms say they carve out exercise time for themselves at night. “I'm considering joining the cheap gym and going late at night once my son is asleep and my husband is home with him,” says Faryn B., mom of a 17-month-old. “It’s not the preferred way, but might be my only option. I haven't worked out since my son was born and I’m feeling awful. Plus i want to get back into shape (as much as possible) before I get pregnant again."
6. Or try early morning
Some Circle of Mom members say they set their alarm early, before the family wakes up, to try to squeeze in some exercise time. “I do my best to get up before my husband and daughter,” says Jenny K..”That means 4:00 am! When I do, I'm able to get in a 30 to 45 minute workout, shower, and get lunches ready all before my 17 month old wakes up. I also try to do a 45 to 60 minute workout after she goes to bed but that depends on the time and if my husband and I have had some catch up time.”
7. Enlist help
Another approach is to ask your spouse or significant other (if you have one) to give you an hour away from the kids to exercise. "I have my husband watch her when he gets home from work while I work out," says Kimberly C.
How do you squeeze in time for exercise?
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.