I hear one of the first things to go once you have kids is your sanity fitness. Who has time to work out when you’re working 40–50 hours a week and spending the rest of your spare time chasing after a toddler? It certainly hasn’t been easy for me. But, with my health being such a huge priority, plus the fact that I can’t imagine not running, I was determined not to let having kids hinder my ability to keep training. After much trial and error, here are a few tips and tricks I’ve found that have helped me continue running once kids entered the picture.
Kid-free moments are pretty rare; however, one of the most predictably free times of day is while they are sleeping. So why not take advantage of this time and go for a run (as long as someone else is still at the house)? I’ve found that some of my best days have started off with an early morning jog. I come back alert, energized, and ready to kick-start the day. Plus, I’ve already accomplished one task on my to do list, which gives me great pleasure, since I love to check things off. For those of you non-morning people, I know this can be easier said than done but, with a few simple tricks (going to bed early, laying out—or wearing—your running clothes, and placing your alarm out of reach), you can take advantage of this precious time of day as well.
If you’re having a hard time squeezing in workouts, then taking the time to actually schedule them—physically blocking off time on your calendar—is very important. One, it forces you to find childcare, if you need it. This could be a spouse, neighbor, friend, or even your local gym (many have childcare available—check what ages are allowed). By planning ahead, you’ve given yourself the time to pull together resources to make your workout possible. Two, it forces you to actually go. If you have a workout scheduled, it’s not likely you’re going to have another time during the day to get it done. So when your calendar alerts you of your upcoming workout, you know you need to get it done then, or it probably won’t happen at all.
Sometimes, even when you schedule a workout, there just isn’t enough time to fit it all in. This happens to me a lot. I might have 30 minutes to go for a quick jog, but I don’t have time for a core workout, so I get creative. Usually this means you’ll find me doing some planks in the kitchen while cooking dinner, lunging to the dinner table as I set out the plates, and maybe grabbing a soup can or two for some bicep curls. If the neighbors saw me, they might think I’m crazy, but I’ve found that, if I want to stay in shape, I need to take advantage my downtime.
I’m not ashamed to say I own a couple of workout videos. I even enjoy scouring YouTube for something new and different to keep me on my toes. So when I just don’t have the option to leave the house, I will happily do a workout in my living room; something is better than nothing. And, I’ve got to say, some of those videos leave me pretty exhausted and sore the next day.
Finally, I’ve found one of the best ways to keep training with kids is to make it a family affair. My husband and I love to go on runs together. We find it to be a great time to talk. We’ll catch up on the day’s activities, discuss family matters, or just talk about life. Whatever it is, we really value this time, and if we can’t find someone to watch our daughter, then we just take her with us. She really enjoys riding in the jogging stroller, especially when we crank up the tunes on our phone. And she loves it even more when we finish our runs with playtime at the splash pad or playground. This time together has become a Saturday morning family tradition; if you’re ever out at Brushy Creek around 8:30 a.m., look for us running along the trail.
When you’re at the stage of life where you find your family beginning to expand, don’t let your health and fitness be the first thing to go. It’s definitely important to keep your family first but, hopefully, by simply implementing a few of the tips and ticks from this article, you can make sure your training stays a top priority as well.