For years I have made excuses for why I don’t exercise, and they usually include the fact that I have a bunch of kids. I can’t leave the house for very long. There isn’t enough room. I’m too tired. There aren’t enough hours in the day. But moms, and particularly large family moms, need to be strong! We need to find the time to get fit and stay that way. It’s not easy, but it is so necessary. So, how do we manage to find the time to exercise when we are managing a large household?
Finding Time to Exercise
I have a lot of kids AND I homeschool. Those two together can easily consume my entire day, leaving me very little time for anything else. While I’m tempted to count picking up toys off the floor and lifting the toddler as exercise, it isn’t quite the concentrated exercise a mom needs to build her strength. Certainly, you are exerting yourself, but you truly need to be exerting yourself for several repetitions to really help you. BUT…where in the world are you going to find the time?!
Here are a few ideas:
1. Get up earlier. This is what I’m doing. I am getting up every morning after the baby has her morning bottle. The reason this is working for me is because Mercy sleeps through the night until 6:30 or so, then goes back to sleep again until 9 or 10 am. I can feed her, put her back to bed and then head to the living room with my laptop. I’ve gotten a good night’s sleep, and the house is quiet.
NOTE: I am a member of a great site for large family moms who want to be fit and strong for their families – Fit2B! I’ve been a member for several years now, and I love that they have all the exercises laid out for you in pathways with goals to work toward – Beginning, Advancing, Challenging. They even have workouts for the kids, and most everything there is considered “tummy safe” – meaning if you have diastasis recti like I do, the exercises actually help you rather than make the condition worse.
Fit2B memberships are on sale now through the 15th!
LEARN MORE HERE!
2. Stay up later. This only works if you aren’t someone who gets energized from exercising. Not everyone ends up super wide awake after exercise. If you find yourself relaxed after a good workout, then this may be the answer for you. Put the kids to bed and get moving!
3. Carve out time in the afternoon. This is what I used to do. We would finish school and I would take a walk. This is also a great time to listen to podcasts or downloaded sermons. It was my time to decompress from the busy school day. I hope to add this in once the weather warms and my life isn’t quite so chaotic.
4. Exercise together. For years, the kids and I did T-Tapp together. I would pop in the DVD after school time and we’d work out together. Fit2B is another good option to do as a family. The girls and I did the neck routine the other night – it was wonderful!
5. Circuit-training homeschool. If you homeschool, I’d encourage you to take those in between moments to purposefully move your body rather than check Facebook or email or just stand there. Do a set of lunges in between helping kiddos. Read aloud standing up and doing leg lifts. I know you’re laughing at me right now, but seriously…try it!
A quick note about finding time…
I had to get to a place in my life where I was ok with finding time for this sort of thing. You have to see this as a way to help your family. They need a strong mommy. They need a mom who can keep up. This isn’t some selfish frivolity. This is serious life stuff. Your body is a temple – treat it that way. I spent far too many years not taking care of myself and staying strong, and I am paying the price.
Staying Motivated to Exercise
So, it’s mid-January. Chances are your New Year’s resolution energy has begun to wane. You might be beginning to feel like everything else needs to take precedence over exercise. And let’s face it…sometimes exercise is the last thing we want to do. I’d about rather do ANYTHING besides exercise. And I could let even the lamest of excuses keep me from moving my body in a purposeful way. BUT, I know it’s good for me, and somehow I have to stay motivated. Here’s how I’m doing it
1. Set a reminder. This is one reason I seriously love smartphones! I have a reminder set on my phone for every. single. day. It reminds me to exercise. It’s set for 2pm…NOT the time I actually exercise. I used to have it set to the time I usually exercise, but then I moved it so that IF I haven’t yet exercised by 2pm, I have that nudge to do so.
2. Understanding that it takes time to make this a habit. We all know that it takes 28ish days to form a habit. However, what no one tells you is that for the first 14-20 days you are fighting the desire to NOT form the habit. In other words, every ounce of your being is going to tell you not to exercise, but you have to be willing to FIGHT. Simply being aware that there will be a fight is half the battle!
3. Rewards. For some people, this works great. For me, not so much, but I thought I’d mention it since it is a great motivator for many. Give yourself a goal and when you reach it, give yourself a reward. Simple as that.
4. Tell your kids. Kids are really good at reminding! If you give them permission to nag you, they will! And chances are, they will join you too!
5. Get a grip on WHY you are doing this. If you are simply exercising because someone told you it was good for you, you are going to last about 5 seconds. For me, the game changer was wanting to be strong. I don’t need to be super thin. I don’t even need to “look good for having 10 kids.” My motivation comes from wanting to be in good enough shape to run, play, pick up, and wrestle around with the kids (and frankly, to not have people wonder how I ended up with such a good looking husband!). I wanted to be able to hike with my family as they get older, rather than it always being dad who does that sort of thing with them. I wanted to feel strong.
My core is shot, and a couple of years ago, I began to really feel it in my everyday life. I have to do something about it. I have to get stronger just to hold myself up! (By the way, The Tummy Team has a HUGE sale coming up. If you are looking for a great program to work on your core, especially if you have a diastasis recti, this is it! I’ll send out a message when the sale happens!)
What Kind of Exercises?
1. Exercises you like. We all know no one sticks with something they hate. I like exercise that involves dance, stretching, and the ability to talk with my kids. These are the types of exercise that have been a part of my life for ages. So, think back – what type of exercise did you enjoy as a kid? Chances are, you might still enjoy that same kind of thing!
2. Exercises you can LIVE WITH. You have to make exercising a part of your every day LIFE. That means it has to fit neatly into your day in order for you to stick with it. For me, this means exercises I can do at home or nearby. I could try to carve out time for the gym, and I hope someday that will be the case, but right now, that is not going to work. So, I have to find something that can be done at home amongst the family.
It also means it has to fit into my home. I don’t have a huge house. If I did, I’d have a home gym type setup. What I do have are some free weights, an elastic band, a medicine ball, and a foam roller. All of these fit into a corner in my bedroom.
3. Exercises that work my weak areas. I’m looking to build strength. My biggest focus right now is my core. While I anticipate that someday I will need to go ahead and have surgery to repair my diastasis, I am not going to go into that surgery all flopsy-mopsy. I can work my core (safely), giving me more stability and a better recovery when I do have the surgery. Again, I highly recommend the workouts from The Tummy Team (which are often incorporated into the exercises on Fit2B because the two companies work together).
So, I encourage you to think about what areas of your body are the weakest and concentrate your efforts there. Don’t neglect the rest of you, of course!
A couple of other things I highly recommend –
A Pinterest board for Fitness. You can find mine HERE.
A way to track your progress. There are tons of apps out there to help you track what you are doing. It’s a good way to see where you’ve been and where you are going.
I’d love to hear about how you fit fitness into your day! I’m always looking for inspiration!