Key Principals For Working Out With Kids
Whether you are a new parent or a seasoned veteran having kids can make working out more of a challenge than it was during your pre-kid days. Kids are a convenient excuse to not work out at all. Kids have their own schedules and activities, and they will do anything for your attention. Get your kids attention by setting high expectations for yourself. Be a role model for a healthy lifestyle and prioritize your exercise routine. Incorporate your kids if the exercise is age appropriate and when their interest aligns.
Be willing to make adjustments for any stage of development.
New mom? Just getting started? New babies sleep a lot. Try and squeeze in a short workout while baby sleeps. Take them for a drive or a walk in the stroller and get in a quick workout while baby finishes his nap. Once they reach 3-4 months most babies can be engaged for short periods of wake time. If they are starting to show interest in toys or just their environment in general, try and workout after a nap and feeding. Baby might only last 30 minutes at this stage, but that might be all you need at this point anyway.
For toddlers and older babies, take advantage of exersaucers, and other play stations. Set up a play area and reserve certain toys for workout time so they are new and exciting. Involve your child in the workout when the exercise allows. Screen time may be appropriate for older children so mom or dad can have some time for self-care. Workout while they watch a video or play a game on the iPad, and don’t feel guilty about it.
Don’t Cater to Every Need
You spend the other 23 hours during the day making sure your child gets enough food, sleep, cuddles and love. It’s okay to take one hour and give your child less attention. Make sure your child is safe, but make the child’s happiness less of a priority. Yes, the child might cry for some of this time, but he might also figure out for himself why he was frustrated or sad. He can learn skills for self soothing and self entertainment. Trust your instincts, and cater to your child as you feel comfortable. However, if you let him cry for 5-10 minutes you might be surprised at how independent children can be (even as babies).
Lower Your Expectations
As a high performing athlete, turned committed mama of four, two+ hour workouts are not in the cards for me these days. However, exercise continues to be a priority at five months postpartum (with twins). Plan for a short workout, maybe 20 minutes. If the kids are cooperating, add in another pair of exercises and stretch it to 30-35. At Garage Strength we like to use supersets. This way we can get more work done in the same amount of time. You can be recovering from exercise "A" while doing exercise "B" and then jump back to exercise "A" without any additional rest. As long as you get in part of a workout, give yourself credit. You did more than nothing, and that is something you can build on.
Squeezing in a workout means less time for dinner prep. Plan ahead for an easy meal on gym days. Save time in the locker room and wear layers that can translate easily from work, to the gym, and around town.
If your kids are going to participate in the workout, don't leave them standing around the garage gym waiting for you to put in a 15th load of laundry. You have them committed to workout with you, drop everything and join them before they lose interest and hop back on IGTV.
Be Flexible, Have Fun
Push a child's attention span, but don’t make it make it so miserable that they won't want to come back for more. If you were planning a high intensity interval workout with burpies and box jumps, but your kid wants
climb a rope for an hour instead, then roll with it. Let the child exercise in a way that he finds exciting and fun. If your child is having none of it, let him off the hook. Maybe your child is having a hard time expressing that he is hungry or tired, or not feeling well, and thats okay. If your workout get cuts short because your child has needs that are more imperative that your 10 minute EMOM, try again tomorrow.
Set Goals For Yourself
Just because you have kids doesn’t mean you can’t have aspirations.
Maybe you were an avid runner before kids and you want to run a 5k at one year postpartum. Sign up! After my second child was born I entered a weightlifting meet at 7 months postpartum. I was not set on hitting any specific numbers, but I was optimistic and focused on training.
If you don’t desire to compete, try setting a frequency goal. I want to log 100 training days before August, or I want to work out 3x per week for the entire month. Goal setting is a great way to hold yourself accountable. You will be more successful, more motivated, and more focused on achieving your goal.
Your kids are watching you. Be the person you want them to become.