For most of us moms with small kids, just getting the daily dishes washed is a big challenge. For many moms, the thought of trying to fit exercise in sounds great, but it is often the first thing to drop when the day gets hairy. So how do you work it in when you already have a full schedule?
Just like the commitment to eat whole, real foods even though it’s not as convenient, exercise needs to be a priority. Maybe even rooted in a conviction that you need to be a good steward of your body. It is easier for things to become part of your way of life when this is the case. This is one of my four daily priorities.
For me, it is easier to maintain the discipline of regular exercise because it is a way of life. It fits with why I do what I do in regards to nutrition for myself and my family. It’s part of my convictions regarding stewardship over my body. It is important for me to make sure that I am taking care of my body for the glory of God. I want to be healthy and strong in order to conceive and give birth to more babies (Lord willing!) and then to take care of them and hopefully one day to play with my grandchildren. I also want to remain attractive to my husband. All of these things offer motivation for me to maintain an active lifestyle.
But, it’s not easy to fit it in with small children. So, just like the most of the rest of our lives as managers of our homes, we need a plan! I have learned a few things along the way (with more learning to do as we hopefully have more children):
1. Find a time that will be most conducive for regular, uninterrupted exercise. Personally, I have found that first thing in the morning, before everyone else is awake as the best time to exercise. This involves sacrifice on a few fronts. It means getting to bed earlier than I would if I were not waking up to exercise so that I can wake up earlier than I normally would. However, I am willing to do it because of my priorities and goals.
This does not mean it’s easy! There have been plenty of days when I drag myself out of bed and have to talk myself into doing what I know is best. There have also been days when I am so tired, I press the snooze button. I believe this is also part of being flexible and exercising wisdom. Most often, when I decided to choose sleep over exercise, it was out of a desire to bless my family. I either went to bed really late, felt run down, or was up in the night with the baby longer than usual. I don’t function well on little sleep. To get up after getting little sleep and then exhaust my body even more would not have been beneficial to anyone.
2. I need to remember that I must be flexible with my daily routine and my exercise routine. Isn’t this true with just about every aspect of motherhood?! Even a time that you perceive as being the best will likely be interrupted at least once. This is certainly the case for me! Just yesterday I was on the treadmill and got about half of my workout done before a certain little somebody body decided it was time to wake up. I went back to finish my workout several hours later. Also, I have run twice since we moved two weeks ago. There have been so many other things to do. I decided it best to temporarily put it on the back burner until we are a bit more settled. Because it is a way of life, I knew that this wouldn’t be a problem.
3. I do something I enjoy and that is also practical. I am one of those crazies who actually enjoys running. We also own a treadmill (look in the classifieds! We got ours, used three times, for $150. The original owners paid $900!). This has made it so much easier to be consistent! It is not feasible for me to join a gym and go three to four times a week with two small kids. For some, it might not be a problem.
4. I set a goal. When I was pregnant with my son, I decided that I wanted to train for a half-marathon after having him. I figured this would help me maintain discipline and consistency since adding a second child wasn’t going to free up my schedule any! It really helped. I just completed my first half marathon two weeks ago! I even finished under my goal time.
5. If possible, include the kids! I love taking walks, and it’s also great exercise. Usually, my kids don’t mind getting into the stroller for a ride. It is a fun time to be able to talk about God’s beautiful creation, tell stories, or just enjoy the out of doors together.
6. Find a buddy to workout with, if it’s feasible. There was a small group of women who were training for the same half marathon that I ran. We did some of our long runs together and another running gal and I would sometimes do a run together when we were lacking motivation.
7. Lastly, multi-task, if possible! I love to read my Bible or review Scripture memory verses while on the treadmill. I also enjoy listening to sermons or reading a book. Depending on what type of exercise you do, you might be able to incorporate some of your other disciplines to do at the same time.
I also need to add that my husband is completely on board with my making time to exercise. This helped immensely when I was training for the half marathon. Some of the long runs I did with the other women in the afternoon, which meant that he watched the kids. It also means that on those days when I am not able to squeeze exercise in before everyone else wakes up, he doesn’t mind watching the kids for a little while in the afternoon or early evening while I get it done.
I hope this helps you think through how you too can make regular exercise a lifelong habit! It is challenging, but completely doable. Have fun in the mean time!
Do you exercise regularly? If so, what have you found to be the most helpful when small kids are under foot?