How Busy Moms CAN Make Time for Fitness (While Still Enjoying the Kids!)

mother with baby doing gymnastics and fitness exercises

By Dana Pieper

I had the pleasure of talking to a couple very busy working moms recently. They all expressed the same frustration about finding the time to exercise. The guilt they feel about taking the time for themselves and their health instead of spending what “free” time they have with their children, is overwhelming.

Time with their kids wins, but their bodies are suffering. They are unhappy about how it feels not to exercise, but they are comfortable with the sacrifice, since kids grow up so fast. I completely empathize with them (my triplets are 8 years old), but want to offer a solution that doesn’t put health and wellness on the back burner.

Here are some tips to help you sneak in your exercise. I always say that a little here and a little there always adds up to more than nothing at all.

Early Morning Workout

Do you wake your kids at the same time each day? Set your alarm for 10 to 20 minutes earlier. Have your iPod next to your bed, push play and use this time to work your core: planks, crunches, knee lifts, burpies, etc.

If you can’t come up with a routine on your own, search the Internet for a routine and print it out the night before. Most fitness-based magazines have great ideas (Self, Shape, Fitness, Women’s Health) you can easily access even if you don’t subscribe. You can also find workouts on YouTube (have them cued up on your tablet and ready to go) or find some quick abs DVDs to get you started.

Lunch-Time Workout

No matter where you work, you always have a break for lunch! How long is it? I know you are probably really hungry, but why not postpone it for 10-20 minutes? Keep a pair of dumbbells in your office or car (or wherever you work) and focus on 2 body parts (1 lower body and 1 upper body)–a different set each day. For example: Lunges and bicep curls, squats and shoulders, knee lifts and triceps, push-ups and outer thigh, etc. Alternate them or do compound moves (upper and lower at the same time) to get more in. Remember to put on your music to get you through it. Get in at least 3 sets of each, then go have your lunch 🙂

“Happy Hour” Workout

After work, you want to hang out with your children! I totally get it…but what can you do together that is active? Ride bikes? Take a walk to a neighbor’s house or to pick up a snack? Jump rope? Play catch, basketball, tag, kickball, make up a racing game, etc.? Any of these will be fun time together while also moving your body.

Active Playtime

Does your child ever want you to “watch” them do chalk on the driveway, play with bubbles, dig in the dirt or sand, keep an eye on them at the park playground? What can you do in lieu of sitting in a chair or on a bench observing? We live in the era of multi-tasking…jog in place, do jumping jacks, squats, lunges, hover over your chair for 30-second intervals. They will probably think it’s funny and want to join in! Now you’re doing it together and you are demonstrating the importance of moving your body. Double Bonus!!!

Other ways to sneak in exercise are mentioned in my “To Do Tuesdays” section of my blog…these are great ways to get in more steps and movement throughout the day without having to carve out an actual time. Check it out: To Do Tuesdays

Dana Pieper PHOTOI have many more ideas, so stay tuned and hope this helps until then.

Dana Pieper, group exercise innovator, is the creator of Everybody Fitness, an intense total body workout that targets all major muscles and increases cardio endurance to deliver impactful results. Her newest DVD, Exercise Your Options, is an inventive fitness program that users can customize to fit into busy lifestyles. Visit Dana’s blog for her “Move of the Week,” fitness tips, inspiration and more. Follow Dana on Twitter @DPEverybodyfit and “Like” Dana on Facebook.

4 thoughts on “How Busy Moms CAN Make Time for Fitness (While Still Enjoying the Kids!)

  1. I can definitely relate to the mom guilt feelings and fitness has taken a backseat more often than not in the past for me. Your tips seem helpful as a stopgap, or on a temp basis, but I don’t think finding just 10-20 minutes to workout is a sustainable way to get fit. In fact you still end up shortchanging yourself. My advice is to deal with it directly and make peace with the fact that you can’t be everywhere at once. Do whatever you can to find an hour a day. No,you won’t be able to do it every day, but maybe after awhile it will get easier.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment. I truly appreciate your response. I agree that getting in a full hour is very beneficial, however there are many people who cannot spend that amount of time. I was offering these suggestions as ways to continue to move in the hopes that mothers won’t abandon exercise all together. Doing things for 10 to 20 minute increments throughout the day adds up and can only help a busy mother sustain her activity and maintain a commitment to the health of her body. Maybe by doing little bit here and there will solidify exercise as a routine staple in their lives and when they find more time as their children grow older, it will be easier to commit to an hour.

      1. Thanks Dana! Good to clarify you meant more than 20 minutes/day. As a mom of three, who also works 50-70 hrs/week I’ve gone the route you suggested and at the end of the day it just kept being WAY too easy to let fitness take a backseat. I still despise waking up at 4:15am to get my workout in (especially if baby was up at 4am to eat), but I hated how I looked and felt even more. I can certainly see your point of view. I think the short answer is whatever works for you. Just seems even more challenging fitting in 3-4 blocks consistently.

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