“I’d work out if I didn’t have kids.” Many of us have thought this, or possibly said it out loud…and actually believed it. I’m pretty sure there are a few Dads who might use this excuse also, and while there is no denying that adding “raising a healthy and functioning human being” into your life schedule adds a bit of pressure, the fact is that exercising is one of the best things you can do because you have kids, not in spite of them.

  1. Make a Plan and a Pact with Your Partner: “We have a seven year old so my wife can’t get to the gym”. Said the man, at the gym. If you have another parent in the house, sit down and formally make up a plan where you both can get coverage (if the kids are little) to work in a few work outs a week. Don’t feel guilty when it’s your turn, and don’t be a martyr and hand your turn over. You both need this.
  2. Lose the Guilt and Add the Work Outs: “I’m taking away time I could be spending with my kids, and I don’t have a lot of time to spend with them.” This might be a factor, but if you are able to get up early before the kids are awake, or work out after they’re in bed, this doesn’t have to be true. And if you have to do it during regular hours, lose the guilt. “I’m a better mother, and a stronger woman because I work out regularly. It’s more than about fitness, it’s about sanity and being in a better place.”, says Brooke Burke, television star, founder of ModernMom.com, mother of four kids aged seven to 15, and owner of some impressive abs.
  3. Take the Kids with You: “The kids are always around!” Many gyms and classes have “Mommy & Me” sessions, but it can go beyond that as the kids get older. Get them out for a run, or find a family activity you can all enjoy. Maureen Dennis, busy mom of four kids aged 4-12, and Founder of Wee Welcome, finally has all four kids on the ski hill with her. “”I love that skiing keeps us all active every weekend throughout the winter and it is something we can do together now and in the future.”  Burke takes her teenagers to her workout classes. “It builds character!” she says.
  4. Test Your Body: “I’d be embarrassed to work out at a gym.” Women often have body issues after having kids, but a lot of them don’t really know what their body is capable of physically, because they might lack the confidence to try.  While many Moms joke that it would be a disaster to jump on a trampoline after having had a few kids, it doesn’t have to be. “One third of women have “Light Bladder Leakage” says Burke. “But don’t let anything get in your way. There are solutions, like Poise pads and liners.”
  5. Schedule Your Work Out Like It’s Work: “I have too many other commitments.” Take a look at your weekly calendar and find the open spots that will let you get your work out in. Whether you need to book a babysitter or trade watching kids with a friend, if you don’t schedule it, it won’t happen.  President ofUVCouture and mom of two Heather McCartney knows how challenging it can be. “Running/operating a business 24/7 while taking care of a magnitude of responsibilities that a mom has on her plate on a daily basis, often makes it difficult to find time for a workout routine.” She adds “But if there’s one thing I’ve made an absolute priority, is getting to the gym four to five times/week in the morning, right after I’ve dropped the kids off at school and before starting my work day. If I don’t make it at this time, the workout doesn’t get done.” Finding the time that works for you – morning, noon, or night – is key.
  6. Energy Begets Energy: “I didn’t sleep well. I’m so tired.”  What parent hasn’t said that, with good reason? Lack of sleep, with kids of all ages, is tough. But adding a work out on days like this can be the best boost you can get, and might actually help you to sleep better that night (provided the kids aren’t restless.) “On your most tired days, you’ll always feel better after you work out than when you don’t.” says Burke.
  7. At What Cost? “With me not working, and/or extra child expenses our budget is too tight to join a gym.” This is a fact for many families, but the work outs don’t have to happen at a gym. There are many resources online to set up a fitness program, indoors in your family room, or simply put on a pair of running shoes and get outside for a walk, jog, or run. Alternatively, taking a hard look at your finances and cutting back on technology charges or other expensive time distractions might just kill two birds with one stone, as well. An investment in yourself is always worth it.

“Moms have a million reasons to not have “me” time”, says Burke, which is essentially what exercise time is.  Getting past the reasons and into the results can happen one step, or excuse dismissal at a time. The sooner you start, the better you’ll feel, and that’s good for everyone, especially the kids.

Kathy Buckworth has four kids, so she figures she needs at least four work outs a week in order to keep up with them.

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