Ways For Busy Mums To Find Time To Exercise
How do you find time to exercise when there just is no time?
As women, the media bombardes us with messages about staying trim and “toning up”. After you’ve had a baby, that pressure ramps up a little more with messages to “get your body back”. Your post-partum body has just done something amazing, and produced an entire new human being. You don’t need to “get anything back”! But once you feel ready, starting some gentle exercise can lift your mood and increase your feelings of well-being.
It can be really difficult to find time to exercise when you have a new baby, or even with an older baby. Broken sleep and night feeds often leave mums feeling exhausted and the thought of heading to the gym may not be very appealing! How can you find time to exercise – in between all the feeds, nappy changes, being there for your baby, and extra laundry?
Do always listen to your body, and seek medical advice if you experience any pain. If you’re wanting to increase the intensity and frequency of your exercise, do this slowly and gradually so that your body has time to adjust. While you don’t need to wrap your post-partum body in cotton wool, it is important to remember that you’ve just gone through the most amazing change and to respect your body for the physical changes that pregnancy and childbirth have brought.
As suggested by Christina Cheney (mum of three, including twins), it’s important to make sure that your own health and well-being is a priority too. It can be easy for it to take a back seat, but children benefit from their parents taking the time to care for themselves. Christina has found this can sometimes mean a bit of tag team parenting with her partner on days off work, instead of always having family time.
I spoke to lots of mums with babies and toddlers, to find out their top tips for finding time to exercise around a young family!
Walking and gentle movement with your baby
Walking with your baby in a good quality and comfortable baby carrier like the KahuBaby carrier will make walking simple and comfortable for you and your baby. Gentle movement classes like Sling Swing are another way to exercise while enjoying it with your child, and you’ll meet other like-minded mums as well. We especially like Sling Swing as the instructors are trained in enabling gentle post-partum recovery exercise and in using baby carriers. Their focus is on gentle movement and bonding with your child, rather than pressure to lose weight or “bounce back” after giving birth.
Ella Vita explained how she walked everywhere with her baby. If she needed to go into town, she’d leave the car at home. “That kept me sane. I also discovered baby yoga, and a yoga class that has a creche attached. Best thing ever! But the walking was so important for me”.
Once your baby is old enough to go in a bike trailer, this is a great way to get from one place to another while stretching your legs! Denise Marshall told us that she cycles everywhere now that her baby can sit in their bike trailer with his bigger brother. Our friends at Oban Cycles point out that cycling with your baby normalises cycling for your child too, and your child is likely to want ot learn to ride a bike soon after they’re able to tell you!
Jenny Gibson told me that she often does stretching exercises with her two preschoolers. As well as allowing her to fit small amounts of movement into her day, she’s found that it’s a brilliant technique to calm an over-excited or overwhelmed child. When her children were younger, she used to do squats with her baby in a carrier and use her children as weights for fun playtime with them too!
Errr, did someone say housework? I thought we were talking about exercise! Depending which camp you’re in, housework is either something that we try to avoid, or we find ourselves fitting everything else around our housework. But a bit of sprightly housework can be a pretty good workout! Ruth Gliori has found hat cleaning the house while babywearing is excellent exercise. She follows the manufacturer’s advice on her baby carrier’s label, to only bend at the knees and not at the waist. This means so many weighted squats in a single day! Ruth told us “It’s a progressive workout as your baby gets bigger. Workout not intense enough? Try it whilst tandem wearing a toddler as well – baby on front/ and toddler on your back. Still not intense enough? My toddler likes to mix it up for me and demands front when baby is on the back. Who needs a gym membership?!!”
And if you’re lucky enough to have twins, then a tandem carry while hoovering or tidying is really going to get your heartrate up!
A variation on housework, but with the added bonus of fresh air. Being outdoors has a positive impact on our mental health, as well as physical, and it’s great for babies and toddlers too. Many times an overtired baby will fall asleep once outside and snuggled next to mum or dad. Hazel Pye says gardening’s brilliant exercise “I get plenty of weighted squats done during an afternoon out in the garden!” Check that your garden’s safe for your child, bring a couple of toys outside for them, and let your chid help out while you’re there too.
Running’s a quick and easy way to fit some high-impact exercise into your day. Do give your body and ligaments plenty of time to return to strength after pregnancy and giving birth. Jenny Edlington suggests booking a babysitter once a week if you can. She found that this guaranteed she could regularly go for a run. For me it would give me the motivation to get out of the door, too!
Christina and Mark find that days out as a family work well for both of them to do some exercise. Christina says “today we went for a bike ride/run then walk. I ran there, while Mark cycled alongside with the bike trailer. We went for a walk together with our little boy in our KahuBaby Carrier, and then I cycled home wit the biek trailer while Mark ran next to us!”
Some gyms offer creche facilities! It’s definitely worth looking into whether there are any in your area. Vicky Lowis and her husband make sure that they both get time to go to the gym. Her husband goes first thing in the morning before everyone else gets up, and she goes once the children are in bed. Vicky’s philosophy is that if you really want to exercise, you’ll find the time. “It’s hard, but by taking turns during the week, we still have our family days on the weekend”.
Mix it up and fit exercise in when you can!
An exercise routine isn’t for everyone, and sometimes work patterns or family commitments don’t allow for a regular weekly exercise slot. One of our followers suggests that making it work when you can fit it in, has been the way forward for her. “When my children are running amok about the house, I do a quick Hiit workout! Get them to join in, use them as weights while they’re small, or cheerleaders when they’re bigger! Who needs a multipurpose gym, when you’ve got multipurpose kids?!!” Children also love to ride alongside a parent running, or you can pop one child into a buggy, have another on a bike and set out that way. “If all else fails, walk to a park and as soon as your children are occupied on swings and slides, start some lunges, squats or anything else you can do in a couple of minutes! No matter how little you feel you’ve done, it’s still more than sitting on the sofa”.
Another mum we spoke to, also feels more motivated if her exercise has a practical purpose behind it. So walking to the recycling bank with smaller loads, rather than driving it all there in one big load, digging the garden, walking to a park further away than normal. “Or something really fun, like hula hooping!”
However you choose to fit some gentle exercise into family life, remember that it’s not the end of the world if you don’t finish a workout. Notice your body’s signals, and rest when you need to.