Fitting in Exercise as a Working Parent
I’ve always had a complicated relationship with exercise. I was a competitive figure skater for years and I had a tough time transitioning from exercise as training to exercise as something you “should do.” I liked working out but it was always a means to an end, so I struggled when it became something that felt more akin to an obligation. Over the years I tried lots of different things from yoga to spinning to kickboxing to running trying to find what my “thing” was – the type of exercise that would work for me and that I was going to commit myself to.
Then I had Liam. After that, I pretty much didn’t work out for a full year. Fitting in exercise in my already busy day was tough. I finally got back in the swing when I started running last year and that helped propel me back to making exercise a priority in my life. I still struggle to make it all fit together – it’s certainly not always easy fitting in exercise with a child and full-time office job but I think I’m finally starting to settle into a routine that works.
Exercise Tips for Working Parents
- Find your motivation for making it there. I’ve accepted that getting a workout in the wee hours of the morning is the best way to fit it into my day. The workout is done first thing and I’m back before anyone is even awake at my house. But that doesn’t always make it easy to drag myself out of bed. The best motivation I’ve found is to have something specific to get to, whether I’m meeting someone or I’ve paid for something. I’m much less likely to hit snooze when it feels like there is something on the line.
- Change your attitude. I started an outdoor 5 a.m. bootcamp class a few weeks back which I’m loving (except for the burpees). Whenever we do a set of burpees, the instructor reminds we don’t have to do burpees today, we GET to do burpees today. We don’t have to get up at 4:45 a.m. for bootcamp, we GET to get up and workout out and enjoy the morning together. I’ve tried to keep that in mind for the way I approach all exercise – it’s not an obligation, it’s not something to check off the list. It’s something that makes me stronger and healthier and happier. I GET to do all that.
- Find people who inspire you. One of the biggest driving forces for continuing to want to fit exercise in my life (and finding ways to make it work) has been the inspiration and motivation from the people around me who lead busy lives and still manage to make a commitment to exercise. Former blogger, Crafty Mom, has a running group that meets super early almost every morning and then she still comes home to get two kids off to school and put in a full day’s work. Another friend with two young kids and a busy job finds a way to squeeze in workouts in the morning or at lunch to make it happen. I love making excuses (particularly to avoid getting up pre-dawn), but seeing people around me make it work makes it a lot harder to convince myself that I can’t or I don’t have time. Find people who make it happen and let them rub off on you.
- Involve your kids where you can. Have a baby? Walk/jog with them in stroller. A toddler? Find something they like to run to so they enjoy it. We used to run to the park a lot a family as a way to combine family time and exercise time. It’s a little tougher now that Liam is in an in between phase – he’s too big for his jogging stroller (or at least has convinced himself he is) and not quite ready for organized exercise. He does, however, LOVE to run so we do a lot of backyard running together. And now that he’s counting he also loves counting sit ups or push ups for me. Good news for now is he can only count to about 15 so the sets aren’t too bad!
How about you? How do you fit exercise into your day as a busy working parent?
Editor’s Note: Get healthy! Bright Horizons and The Partnership for a Healthier America recently hosted a parent webinar: Seize the Summer – Fitness Tips for Busy Families to share actionable tips for prioritizing fitness and improving your family’s eating habits. Watch now!