Happy Mother’s Day! Having children changes everything, doesn’t it? As much as parents want to believe they’ll be able to live the same life after kids—oh, how we hold on tight to that belief—it all changes when that first padawan arrives.
One of the first things to go is the exercise routine. During the first couple of years of parenthood, who really has time to go for a jog or hit the gym when there are young children to take care of? Fair enough. Even though it might not be the same as it was, there are still ways to squeeze in exercise. It just takes a little bit of group mentality.
5 Creative Ways to Exercise as a Family
The trick is to thread exercise into your existing schedule—to sneak exercise into the family activities you already do with your family. And what better time to exercise as a family than Mother’s Day? (Okay, maybe start with these tips the day after Mother’s Day so mom can get her proper kicks.)
1. Go for a Walk
Walking is the new running! At least for parents, it is. Walking is great for papa bear, mama bear, the babies, even grandma and grandpa. Getting out and in the sunshine can not only provide exercise to people of all ages, but can also provide the psychological break that many parents often need. Make walks a game by singing, marching, and gamifying certain milestones (times around the block, steps, etc.).
2. Make Cleanup Time a Dance Party
It’s hard to convince kids to clean up. Heck, it’s hard to convince ourselves to cleanup—unless you make it fun. And what better calorie-burner is there than dancing? It’s fun, engaging, and it begs for your favorite soundtrack. Got vinyl around or a favorite playlist? Throw them on and set an example by dancing through the entire cleanup. Dancing is contagious, you’ll see. The kids will follow and you’ll all be burning calorie as you go.
3. Get Moving During Commercial Breaks
Let’s face it: most families spend a lot of time watching television together. Kids shows are educational, entertaining, and they help plug kids in so that parents can tune out a while (seriously, how many times have you seen Baby Shark and Frozen?). During breaks and commercials, get the kids up and moving by doing jumping jacks, running in place, or even burpees. If the kids are too young, do the exercises yourself. Eventually, they’ll come around (and maybe your spouse will, too).
4. Put the Children to Work
Admit it: when you found out you were having kids, part of you was excited to hand off chores and housework. Mowing the lawn. Raking leaves. Pulling weeds and cleaning gutters. A couple of hours spent on any of these chores is no small physical ask. You’ll be sweating and sore in no time. Get the kids involved and Sunday chores will quickly become the Sunday family workout.
5. Take the Dog for a Walk
Kids. Love. Dogs. Don’t we all? And if you have one in your family, you have an always-on, never-sleeping opportunity for exercise. When’s the last time your dog refused to go for a walk? Head out to the nearest park, prairie reserve, or beach and go for a long one. Get the kids involved or, if they’re old enough, charge them with handling dog walking all on their own. The Kennel Club recommends two fifteen-to-twenty-minute walks a day. That’s two opportunities to get up, get moving, and do something beneficial to the health of both canine and child members of the family.
Keep It Interesting, Keep Consistent
To exercise as a family, you need to get creative and you need to stay consistent. There are only so many hours in a day. But busy doesn’t have to mean sedentary. When you make exercise part of the fabric of the family, the kids will respond in kind. And an active lifestyle is one of the best examples parents can set.