When you're the mom, it's not easy to make time for your own health and welfare. Sure, you can schedule your kids' doctor and dentist appointments and shuttle them around to soccer, ballet, hockey, karate, and advanced macramé -- but sometimes it feels like the only exercise you're getting is moving your foot from the break to the gas.
For years, I tried to figure out a way to shoehorn exercise into my day. When the kids napped, I was so overwhelmed with chores, work, and the occasional need to eat that working out never made the list. I tried getting up earlier than my offspring, but 4 am running sessions just left me cranky for the rest of the day. By the time the kids were down for the night and the kitchen was cleaned, all I wanted was a few minutes in front of the TV -- or to curl up in bed with a book.
One day, a friend of mine pointed out that there were ways to work out while my children were awake. Intrigued, I pressed her for details. She told me that she has a standing play date with another mom. Every day, they take their daughters to a nearby park. While the kids play, the moms complete a park circuit workout. Use your favorite search engine to find a workout geared for your fitness level and available equipment.
I liked the park circuit workout, but I couldn't always get to the park at a time when the equipment was available for me to use. So I asked other friends how they fit in fitness. One told me that she started coaching a basketball club at her son's elementary school twice a week. Each session started with stretching and laps around the gym to warm up. Together with another coach, she drilled the kids on passing, shooting, and other skills. Then, the kids -- and the coaches -- spent thirty minutes playing three-on-three in several groups.
I have kids who span different ages, so it's not always easy to find an activity that works with everyone's schedule and abilities. But that's clearly not an excuse, as my friends pointed out, with yoga and other exercise DVDs I can easily pop in. Plenty of these workouts are designed for kids -- or adults who are beginners. My youngest kids can play or nap while the older ones join me for a 45-minute yoga workout to unwind and ease the transition from school to home.
Sure, it may not be the traditional way to get your fitness in, but playing sports on a console like the Wii can produce real results. Plus, it's really unlikely that you'll have any problems getting your kids to play along. This indoor alternative is great for when the weather makes it too difficult to play outdoors, or if you have to work around nap and homework schedules.
Sometimes, you have to find external motivation for a workout. If that's your personality, then admit it, and sign up for a class you and your kid (or kids) can take together. Depending on your children's ages and abilities, you might try swimming, dance, martial arts -- or something completely different. Check with your church or synagogue or a local community center to see what parent-child options may be available.
Stop thinking of your kids as an obstacle to working out, and start running obstacle courses with them, instead!
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