5 Simple Tricks to Make Movement Part your Busy #Mom-life.
Making time for movement or exercise can be really difficult as a parent of a baby or toddler. How do you fit in a workout with an already overfull schedule of working and parenting full time? You know movement would give you more energy and make you feel better, but you just don’t feel like there are enough hours in the day or enough coffee in the world to get to the gym every morning, or you’re totally sapped by evening. Maybe you struggle with feeling like you’re missing out on home time or that family needs come before something “trivial” like a workout. Cue spinning wheels, stress, and not getting anywhere. Right?
I so feel you, mama. But it can be done! Movement and exercise can be part of your life without feeling like a punishment, without adding to your stress, without feeling like you’re missing out on the fun, without draining your batteries, without creating an impossible schedule.
Check out my tried and true simple tricks to making movement part of your week.
1. Start with a goal SO easy to achieve it seems silly.
Often when we try to establish new habits, especially around exercise or food, we run out the gates and say “I’m GOING TO WORK OUT 6 DAYS A WEEK THIS YEAR!” And we do it! For three weeks! And then we burn out and “fall off the wagon.” We may get another workout in here and there, but it never becomes a long-lasting habit. Along with that comes the guilt of not sticking to what was truly an impossible task.
So start small. Ask yourself, “How sure am I, on a scale of 1-10, that I can workout x days a week?” 1 being impossible and 10 being absolutely! No problem!
If it’s not an 8 or higher, scale back your goal. Scale back until you are POSITIVE that you can make that happen, even when all the #momlife obstacles are thrown your way.. Maybe that means it’s just one day a week. On a scale of 1-10, you say 9 for making a workout happen once a week. It may sound small but it is at the very least an attainable and habit-building goal with more impact over time.
Don’t believe me? Let’s compare.
Working out 6 days a week for 3 weeks plus a handful of bonus workouts (let’s say 10) = 28 workouts Working out consistently 1 day a week for the whole year = 52 workouts.
Which is better?
What we are doing with this small, simple goal is building confidence and habit. Check-in in a month. Has this new habit become second nature? Do you want to add more? Walk through the exercise again. How sure are you you could workout TWO times a week?
2. Ask for support
With any habit change, it’s important to have support, both logistically and emotionally. Talk to your partner and make sure they understand WHY this is important to you. Together find the time that makes the most sense.
The best time for my family and me is early morning. I get up early, have a cup of coffee and workout listening to a podcast. This also means I need to go to bed earlier. I enjoy my quiet solo mornings. If my daughter wakes up early, my partner will take care of the morning routine, so I can keep my movement time.
Maybe for you this looks like an evening workout class or a saturday morning group run. Talk to your support system and make sure everyone is on board.
3. Schedule It and make it a non-negotiable.
Now that you’ve decided how often you’re going to work out, you need to schedule it. Open up your calendar and make an appointment. Mark it as BUSY. Because you are! This is an appointment with yourself you can’t miss. Does it feel like TOO much? Go back to step one-- remember your goal should feel SO easy it seems silly.
Look at your schedule, is there a pocket of time that works best for you and your family? Book it! Other things will work around this appointment because it is a priority. You are a priority.
Logistically, it may be tough to get to the gym or a class. Try doing a workout in your living room, on the deck, in the backyard. Your body and little bit of ground space is all you need. I’ve included one of my favorite at-home, equipment free workouts at the end of this post.
4. Involve your kiddos.
Even with the best of intentions, planning and support, I don’t always get my quiet morning workouts, because LIFE. When that happens, I just include my daughter, Edith, in an at-home workout or long walk pushing the stroller. I may not get to channel serious power workout mode when I involve Edith, but damn is it fun. She now has her own mat, loves to squat with me (and climb all over me when I do glute bridges or dead bugs), roll around on the ground and just be her goofy, joyful self. And importantly, she gets to see me enjoying movement, working out not as punishment, but as celebration of our bodies. We celebrate our strength, whatever that looks like today, be it physical, emotional, mental and all of that can show up on the mat.
5. Shift your mindset around movement.
I am talking about this in depth more in my upcoming nutrition and movement program specifically for busy moms (stay tuned!), but Mama-- you don’t have to commit to spending hours in the gym to incorporate strength-building and energy boosting movement into your life.
We simply need to move and not in a crazy intense way. In fact, if your workouts are leaving you floored for more than 5 minutes afterwards, they are too intense and are only adding to your stress and fatigue. If you are within in a year or two postpartum, then this is the ideal time for strength building workouts and low-intensity cardio like cycling and walking. High-intensity workouts that you may have loved pre pregnancy may actually exacerbate your fatigue.
Movement for you could be a walk, bikeride, time in the garden, chasing your kiddos or a more traditional workout like a group exercise class or at-home training session.
Don’t beat yourself up if you’re not able to move in the same way, or push the same weight as your pre-parent self. Postpartum, from 6 weeks to 18 months is really about rebuilding. And that time frame is flexible. Listen to your body. Is it super tired and sluggish? Maybe it’s time for a simple flow movement or a walk outside (don’t underestimate the power of moving outside!)
This morning, I needed a little more sleep and also had to leave early, so I did a short flow rather than a full workout. It was still beneficial, helped me start my day calm, collected and feeling good. Because my goal is to move everyday (note: move, not necessarily bust my butt in the gym or spin or crossfit) even if it’s just a walk or a flow. I am 90% sure I can hit that every week.
Here’s one of my favorite equipment free workouts
:30 bear crawling
8 dead bugs
:30 crab walking
Give these tips a try and report back how they work for you!