As a parent, by the time you have factored in childcare, a gym membership, and a modest amount of workout gear, you could already find yourself priced out of what’s considered to be the “traditional” approach to getting fit. Not everyone has the money, time, or the support system in place to allow for daycare, or even an hour to themselves.
If this is sounding all too familiar, you are not alone. Many parents report that they have great difficulty in finding time for exercise during the course of their extremely busy days. Perhaps our problem is that we assume exercise is a solo activity. But what if we were to look at this differently? What if we got the family involved?
Here are six fun ways to balance your workouts and your quality time with family.
Parents of young children can sometimes feel tied to one spot, especially before the kids are steady on their feet. Strollers are great for a walk around the neighborhood, but what if you’re ready to get some serious cardio back into your life?
Jogging strollers offer parents the chance to keep their little ones comfy and close by, even as they train for that first post-baby 5K. Jogging strollers also come as two- and three-seaters, so parents of multiples, or parents with “stair-step” siblings can still get out for a run with the kids.
For some added fun, check social media or ask friends if they know about any local jogging stroller meet-ups. You can get fit, and make new friends.
Put the “Play” Back in Playground
We often take our kids to the playground so that they can get the exercise and stimulation they need. So why is it that we as parents tend to spend playground time sitting on a bench?
Parents are also in need of exercise and stimulation, and nobody said that sitting on those benches was compulsory. If you feel a bit silly swinging on swings, or practicing your flexed-arm hang on the monkey bars, try jogging the perimeter of the playground instead. Bring a towel or yoga mat so you have a place to do a few push-ups, crunches, and lunges.
Better yet? Organize a game of tag or hide-and-seek with the kids, and participate yourself. Not only does this get you up and moving, but it also makes for fun quality time with your family.
Make Exercise Part of Family Outings
Family outings are a great opportunity for bonding, and for exercise. Rather than taking a trip to a restaurant or the movies, pack some bag lunches and check out the local nature trail. If hiking isn’t your thing, try a family bike ride. As much as possible, make physical activity the main event. You can try swimming, sledding, or even one of those indoor trampoline parks.
The only requirements are smiles and movement.
Athletic Video Games
Maybe you would love to get outside, but the weather just isn’t agreeing with you. A great way to reduce cabin fever, and to get the whole family moving is to check out some athletic video games. There are games like “Dance Party” and “Wii Sports” that award points based on your accuracy of movement. Some other games such as “Dance Dance Revolution” come with peripheral attachments which track your steps and rhythm.
If your kids whine about leaving the TV behind, this could be a great compromise.
Indoor Dance Party
Of course, indoor exercise doesn’t always require special equipment. Try turning on the radio, clearing a space in the middle of the floor, and having a dance party with the kids. Encourage everyone to do their silliest moves, or show off their best tricks. All that matters is that everyone’s having fun and getting some great cardio while they’re at it.
Mommy/Daddy and Me Workouts
For babies who want to be held all the time, or for younger kids who can’t seem to stop getting underfoot, mommy/daddy and me workouts are a stroke of genius. These are short routines that get you moving, but also incorporate your child. While older kids are encouraged to follow along, babies become more of a workout prop. You’re already doing plenty of lifting, holding, and balancing all day anyway, so why not make it more fun and athletic?
Parents often get stuck thinking that workouts and family life are a “one or the other” choice. By applying some creativity, and having a healthy sense of fun, you can incorporate your family into your workouts. Not only does this get you moving, but it gets everyone else moving too. It’s all about finding that balance, and when your family is working out alongside you, that becomes much easier.