To be totally honest, I’ve always tried to avoid working out when the kids are at home. My workout has always been my “me time” – it’s my chance to recharge and get some endorphins going. When the kids are around, they’re always in the back of my mind and I’m on alert for interruptions or disaster to strike, so I can’t really zone out and get the most out of my workout. So, I’ve always exercised while they were at school hours, or, if they were home, I’d skip out to the gym and leave them with my husband. Of course, because of COVID-19, neither of those solutions are available right now, so I’m learning to embrace working out at home with the kids.
I know many of you are in the same boat, so I wanted to share some strategies for getting in a workout when you’re home with the kids!
Break your workout into smaller segments and be flexible. The truth is that at first, it may be more challenging to carve out 30 minutes for a full workout. Instead, split it into three 10-minute sections throughout the day. When the kids are more used to it, you can add in time. A couple of years ago, I was lucky to get in a 10-minute workout outside while they were playing. Now they’re a bit older, and I can get in a 45-minute workout while they play in the playroom, no problem. When they were babies, we’d head out for a walk or to the gym, and I’d just tell myself that if it was cut short, it was no big deal. They often surprised me by staying occupied – and allowing me to work out – a little longer than I anticipated! If you don’t have high expectations, you won’t be disappointed if it doesn’t go as planned. Go with the flow.
Give the kids something to entertain (and distract) them. This is the perfect time to take out some *new* toys or activities. I always stash some of the girls’ toys away for rainy days or opportunities like this. A new LEGO set, Invisible Ink pad (these are awesome and so inexpensive), or couple of new dolls really add to the novelty factor. I’ll also take out some art supplies, like drawing pads, stickers, and markers for them to use while I work out.
Take it outdoors. This is one of my favorite ways to get in a sweat while the girls are home. I put on some music and they play on the play set while I work out in the grass. I’ll often do HIIT intervals mixed with strength and they get a kick out of seeing me sprint across the yard or do squat presses. (One of my favorite outdoor workouts is here and I also love this driveway total body workout.)
Don’t worry about giving them a little extra screen time. The girls only get the iPads when we’re traveling or if I’m working out. This makes the iPads MAGICAL. I’m happy to let them play a game on the iPad (P loves the Homer App and Endless Reader, which Liv loves Monster Math) while I do my thing. Or sometimes I’ll just turn a movie or a show on in the playroom so they can watch tv while they play. I don’t *love* using technology as a crutch, but you do what you gotta do.
Have a plan. The worst thing is when you finally get them settled and happy with a show or art supplies, you head in to work out, and you have no clue what you’re going to do. Know exactly what you’re going to do for your workout before getting the kids settled so you don’t waste precious time figuring everything out! The timer dings and you GO. Some ideas: how to set up a workout plan, your spring workout plan (perfect for the next couple of weeks), or try any of the workouts from Les Mills On Demand (use this link for 21 days free!).
If they want to join in, encourage them! This is one of the bright sides of working out when they’re home. They’re able to see that my health is a priority for me and that moving my body makes me feel good. I feel fortunate to be able to set an example for them and show them that fitness can be a regular part of life and that it can even be fun. When the girls see me working out and want to join in, I’ll make up crazy names for the exercises I’m doing (Frankenstein walks, frog jumps, inchworms, etc.) and they do the moves along with me! Even when I’m doing yoga and they’re crawling all over me, I feel glad that they’re able to see that I take the time to do something for my health that makes me feel good.
Exercise can help keep us healthy and protect our immune system, and I’ve found that it helps dramatically with my anxiety, especially during stressful times like these.