As a mum, I’m mega busy – childcare (including home-educating!), housework, ‘life admin’ as the family PA and earning a living too – who the heck has the time to travel to the gym and exercise? I barely get 5 minutes to pee alone, my showers are interrupted by tiny peoples’ demands and I stay up way too late trying to get some ‘me time’, so exercise really comes at the bottom of the pile; it’s just not a priority.
However, I understand the importance of exercise for physical and mental health (and gut health! Our microbiome loves it when we exercise!) and I’m sure you do too, so instead of sitting about feeling guilty for dropping that spinning plate, let me show you how to shoe-horn some movement in to your day, every day, in a way that isn’t going to push everything else off the shelf.
Firstly let’s redefine ‘exercise’ here. I’m not talking about an hour workout, I’m not talking about running 5 miles (unless you really want to and enjoy that kind of thing!) and I’m not talking about attempting to get up at 6am and to take a ‘spin class’ before the kids wake up. I mean really, what kind of freaky morning person does that? Who the hell actually gets up before the kids have jumped on them with questions like “Do spiders have noses?” and “What is smaller than an atom?” and feels alive enough to exert themselves to near death? Not me, that’s for sure!
Anyway, if you are suffering from any kind of burnout, adrenal fatigue, or hypothyroid problem you do NOT want to be dragging your poor tired body through a mega workout; it’s only going to deplete your body further.
SOOoo, what am I on about then? Well, think instead about movement. Think about strength. Think about movement your body enjoys. Think about the kind of movement that is a celebration of what your body is capable of, and not some sort of punishment for eating!
You are honestly not going to keep up with any sort of exercise if you hate it and if you feel like it’s a punishment. That just makes you resent yourself and that is not a good inner-relationship to be having with yourself. If you’re gentle and encouraging, then you may just find that you get better results exercise becomes part of your life in a positive way. Here’s some suggestions:
5 Top Tips for Exercising as a Mum:
1. Get a Fitness Tracker
Not only are these great for tracking you sleep habits, but simply tracking the amount of steps you do a day and seeing if you can squeeze a few more in can be beneficial. I work from home and also Home Educate my 2 kids so I don’t have any sort of commute or school run to help ramp those steps up – when I first got my fitness tracker I was only doing about 3,000 steps a day! However instead of going “oh my god, I must do 10,000 like NOW!” I set my goal at 4,000 and then worked my way up. It really helps to measure where you are at now, and then set a small achievable goal to aim for and then when you hit that, set your next goal! (Although I would like to add that if you are going to spend time OBSESSING over your stats then just step away from that shit – don’t find things to feel bad about!)
2. Set yourself mini-tasks
Waiting for the kettle to boil? Do some squats! Brushing your teeth? Do some calf raises or practise your tree pose! Walking the dog? Find an area to do a mini-sprint (The dog will think you are SO exciting! lol) Put some weights by the sofa and do a few reps while there’s an ad break. Would the dog like an extra walk? Just try thinking outside the box and finding little ways to bring extra movement in to your existing schedule. Check out Pinterest or YouTube for inspiration or instructions on how to do certain moves if you’re not familiar with any.
3. Invest in some at-home equipment
This doesn’t mean expensive stuff like bikes or treadmills. If you don’t have them already, basic stuff like resistance bands, dumbbells, kettlebells and a yoga mat increases the amount of different exercises you can try out. We’ve even got some gym-rings looped round a beam in one of the kids rooms which we all use – the kids think it’s great fun to swing about like monkeys and I get to tone my core and strengthen my arms – everyone’s a winner! We also have a pull-up bar attached to a doorway on the landing where my husband often stops to do a few quick pull-ups (sadly I cannot yet manage one lol). DVDs or fitness videos on Youtube can be great for short routines and inspiration too, I like to pretend I’m training for the zombie apocalypse!
4. Get the kids involved
Go for a walk to the park, play physical games with the kids like chase, go for a bike ride together, have a silly dance around the living room, play some ‘Just Dance’, do some yoga together (We love Cosmic Kids on Youtube!) or set challenges like who can complete an obstacle course the fastest or who can do the most push ups. It will really help them if you can get them to see exercise as an enjoyable activity rather than a chore – I hated PE at school and have carried that “ugh, exercise!” feeling with me in to my adult life. It’s taken an effort to reframe exercise as enjoyable movement that I get to CHOOSE (rather than forced upon me by school or as punishment for eating) and I want my kids to feel good about this from the beginning so they have less work to do later!
5. Get other adults involved.
If you’re finding it impossible to squeeze in the exercise around the kids then enlist some help! Go swimming with your partner or a friend so you can take it in turns watching the kids and swimming some lengths. Take Grandma to the park so she can watch the kids in the playground while you go for a run. If you REALLY want to attend an awesome yoga class or something that will make you happy – hire a babysitter! Your health and wellbeing are important, it’s okay to prioritise them sometimes. Other adults can help with motivation too, sometimes we need an ‘accountability buddy’ to keep us on track.
Do you manage to find time to add enjoyable movement to your day? Let me know in the comments!
As always, look after each other out there ❤