Finding time (let alone the will-power) to exercise can be tough. Throw three kids into the mix and sometimes it feels downright impossible. But then on my way to drop off my oldest daughter at pre-school, I see another mom pushing two toddlers in a jogging stroller and a middle-aged man running the same incline I catch him running up each day at that same time. And I’m suddenly reminded how important it is to find the time for exercise in my own life. I go through really long stretches where I workout daily, and then, when chaos takes over and we close on a house the same week our third daughter is born, the same week our first daughter turns four, the same week the first big holiday in the long string of holidays kicks off, I get completely sidetracked. And yes, for the record, all of those things truly occurred simultaneously, and some days I am shocked I still manage to find two matching shoes as we walk out the door. But others do it, and more, every single day, so in honor of a brand new month, I wanted to share five quick tips that help me find time to incorporate exercise into my routine and I hope that these tips might help you, too!
1. Walk it out.
A long walk gives me more than a breath of fresh air, it clears my head. And it allows me to go at a pace where my kids can come along and collect colored leaves or take their naps while in the stroller, or read a book or even share the iPad to catch a Disney movie together on our route. I try and incorporate hills to intensify the workout and agree to go as long or as far as my kids’ attention spans will allow.
2. Join In The Fun.
My two older girls love to go to our local soccer field and kick around the ball for hours. I used to sit on the hill and watch them play and now I try to join in when I can and am surprised at how much of a workout it really is. Besides catching an afternoon of laughs with my kids, I spend the whole time on the move and don’t feel guilty when we didn’t have time to fit in a walk earlier that morning.
3. Leave The Car At Home.
When my oldest started gymnastics class as an infant, the location was only a mile away from our house and when weather permitted, we would walk there and back. A mile there and back might not seem like much, but it added up, and more often than not, she would fall asleep on our way back down the hill and I would be able to extend the walk even longer.
4. Take The Stairs.
Much like the tip mentioned above, the same goes for indoor locations. Maximize your movement whenever possible. When I take the kids to the doctor or go to any appointments in office buildings myself, I always opt for the stairs. Avoiding the elevator when you can keeps your muscles moving and allows you to achieve the health benefits of aerobic exercise without ever setting foot in a gym.
5. Go Easy On Yourself.
There are days, that sometimes stretch out into a week, that I don’t make it out for that 2-hour walk as planned. Because there is school drop-off and pick-up, and sometimes those things interfere with nap time and feeding time, and appointments and schedules and playdates. And then there’s always the essential errands that need to be run, like making sure there is food in the house and that the toys are cleaned up, at least enough so we can walk in the door. But you can’t beat yourself up because I always feel like that sets me even further back. Don’t add more stress to your already -full plate. Just do what you can, when you can. And make sure it’s what works best for you.