Fitting in fitness into the everyday routine of raising small human beings can be exhausting.
With every age, comes a new challenge. Have a baby? Then you know all about sleep deprivation and don’t-you-dare-think-about-putting-me-down stage. Toddler? Don’t turn your back for a second or it’s goodbye to your best pair of earrings. Threenager? Don’t even get me started on the drama. And school-age children seem to require their own social secretaries these days.
Luckily, it’s easier than ever to re-think exercise and incorporate fitness as a family with mother-child workouts. Having a mom who exercises is invaluable to children, explains Roni Noone, fitness blogger and co-author of What You Can When You Can. “We teach them more though actions than words. My kids see me get up early to hit the gym or go out of my way to walk instead of drive and I know I’m planting the seed for them to active adults.”
To plants those seeds from the baby stages and beyond, here a few suggestions for working out with your child.
If you have a little one, exercise classes that incorporate your baby are becoming more and more popular. Katie Van Brunt, a mom of two girls and a blogger at Loyal, Loving & Learning calls her baby-wearing ballet barre class her “happy place.” (The woman even nurses her daughter during her class, which I find all sorts of impressive.) To join the baby wearing exercising mamas, start by searching for a baby wearing class online or buy a baby wearing workout DVD to do at home.
Running or walking
“For me it’s all about the walking and short runs,” explains Noone. “I will routinely meet my fourth grader in running clothes at the bus stop and we’ll lap our block after school together. We also walk to pick up his brother at pre-school a mile away.”
She also incorporates exercise into their daily routines by stretching during TV shows and doing pull-ups on the bar they had installed in their house before bedtime.
“I love that they are older now and actively participate in daily exercise with me,” she says.
As a mom of four little kids, I seriously do not have time to go to the gym. The thought of packing clothes, driving to the gym, paying to exercise and also finding someone to watch the kids while I workout? Exhausting, expensive and, not to mention, it sounds like it would eat up a good two hours of my day. Not. Happening.
My solution has been to exercise at home with free YouTube exercise videos (Jillian Michaels was my gateway drug) and I recently made the plunge into the Focus T25 program, which I love because all of the videos are only 25 minutes. I always work out in the basement and invite my kids to workout with me. I bought my daughters their own little one-pound dumbbells and it’s so much fun to watch them get their little workout clothes on and join me. They love it, and I love that I’m modeling a healthy way to fit in fitness and have fun while doing it to them. Even when they only do a few minutes of the exercise and then get bored and play, I think the open-door policy of doing exercise near them is a great solution to incorporating fitness with kids.
Try a class
Noone notes that the key to mother-child workouts is recognizing that there are many different challenges that vary based on the children’s ages.
“With the younger ones, it’s easy to incorporate active playtime but it’s harder to get them to focus,” she explains. “With the older ones, the challenge is more their lack of desire but I’ve learned that for as much as they complain about walking with mom, it ends 2 minutes into the activity and then the are enjoying it.”
To combat the boredom, she also suggests that taking a class might be a fun activity for everyone to do together.
“You just have to persuade them a bit,” she says.
Carla Birnberg, a mother of a nine-year-old daughter and a personal trainer, advocates that moms ditch the idea of a formalized exercise routine to do with their children. Her book, co-authored Noone, embodies the idea of fitness that Birnberg has adopted as a parent modeling a healthy lifestyle for her daughter.
“You do what you can while you can,” she says simply. “Fit in fitness when you can.”
Because Birnberg explains that exercise always involves an element of play and says wryly that maybe if, as adults, we embraced the play aspect of exercise more, we wouldn’t dread it so much. In contrast to formalized sports or exercise classes, she encourages parents to just play with their kids.
“None of our exercise is formal,” Birnberg explains. She suggests thinking about what kids love and incorporating those activities into the day. “stuff like tag, freeze tag, badminton, soccer.”
“If we grab that basketball and just hit the playground, then we end up at the monkey bars, then we’re kicking the ball. It’s important for it to be fun for them. We’re just moving together.”
TapGenes Takeaway: When it comes to working out with your child, you don’t have to hit the gym to have fun and move together!
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