For most mothers finding balance is hard. For full-time working mothers the equation gets even trickier. Some mothers that I know are trying to balance 8 hours of work, commute time, time with their children, and time exercise. Most will forgo exercise to spend time with their babies, and rightfully so. Here are some tips that can help you get the most from your day while preserving the bonding time that all of us parents crave with our children.
Find the gym nearest to your work
While you have whomever watching your child during the day, you can stop on the way home for a quick workout. This gets it done and out of the way so you can spend all your time when you get home with your children and spouse. This prevents having to go home and then motivating yourself to walk away from your kids to go back out to the gym.
Using your lunch break to do a 30 min work out would be even better
Schedule it out for yourself just like a meeting. You can either take a walk/jog outside during your break or go to the nearest gym for a quick workout. Pack a bag with your gym clothes, socks, and sneakers. If you don’t have time to shower, make sure you grab face wipes and dry shampoo to get you presentable for the rest of your day. Usually you’ll feel more upbeat that you’ve been so productive already that you’ll be riding on that energy the rest of the day. Something to also think about is if there is a park near your work? Just think of how nice some fresh air and clearing of the mind can be midday away from your stressful job. It is also possible to set up a group of you to car pool to the nearby gym during lunch to make a quick workout more enjoyable, social, and accountable.
Include your kids when you get home
Do a home workout with your baby or toddler. Read my first blog from my series “Mommy Fitness” Postpartum Weight Loss Tips. This gives you some first steps take and equipment that you can use to include your little one into your workout.
Do a workout when your child is down for the night
If your baby is anything like mine she goes to bed around 6:30-7:00pm. Even though it may not be ideal or fun to work out, it might feel really good to use your alone time for one of your goals this year- health. You can follow my last blog from the “Mommy Fitness” series At Home Nap-Time Workout for a 3 day a week full body workout for when the baby is sleeping. What is great about that specific workout is you need very little equipment to do everything. For balance and sanity, the other days you aren’t working out you can de-load and enjoy reading a new book, catching up on your favorite shows, or having that well-deserved glass of wine. If mornings work better for you, waking up before everyone in the house is a great way to get it done. You can even sleep in your workout clothes to save more time and create fewer excuses. Make sure you take advantage of going to bed as soon as you can so you can get enough sleep for a morning workout.
Divide out responsibilities
Have a discussion with your partner about why getting in some time to workout is important to you and to your mental clarity to be a better mom. Ask your partner if they wouldn’t mind watching the baby or children while you take 45 minutes to get in a quick workout. Even easier is to have your partner entertain or play with the baby in the other room while you use the living room or garage for a quick planned out workout. In order to make the above tips work, you can also split up the responsibilities of everyday life so everything is not put on you. Have your spouse make dinner 2-3 days a week while you work out with your baby/toddler in the other room. Then switch and your husband can have some time working out or whatever he chooses. This could work if you would like to do a yoga class two days a week as well, just talk it out with your significant other, babysitter, or mom beforehand.
Food for your week
You don’t have to eat the same thing every day to have the physique you want, but you must have healthy options available at any given time. Food shopping should include the foods you want to eat during the week that will fuel you through your day, and for some of you mothers, fuel your baby via breast milk. Make a list of a bunch of vegetables you enjoy, complex carbohydrate that you prefer, and lean protein that works for you. If you don’t eat meat like me, be sure to include foods like chickpeas, beans, eggs, low fat hummus, green leafy veggies (like kale), broccoli, green peas, quinoa, lentils, nuts, hemp, and non-dairy milk which all have quality protein in them. Get yourself some nice Pyrex small glass containers and put your healthy dinner leftovers in them. Have healthy fun snacks available to grab from to keep you satisfied all day long. Cook protein pancakes ahead of time to be ready to go for the morning. Be sure to look for upcoming blogs touching on some recipes that are great for you and your baby’s milk if breast-feeding.
Planning and prepping food with your toddlers
Kids like to help and do tasks and you can use this to your advantage to teach them about healthy food, different colors, and where it comes from. If your child is just a baby, like mine, then you can have them on you in the front pack while they look and discover what you are doing, I guarantee they will be interested. I’ve done this many times and it’s amazing how intrigued they are by just doing your normal daily activities. You can feel confident they feel included and that they are learning things. Just be careful working around the stove top with your little one hanging off you.
Weekend fitness warrior
If it is impossible to have any time during the week to work out because of your work and commute take up all your spare time, you might have to incorporate being active on your weekends. If spending quality time with your family is as important to you as it is to me, then each week sit down and plan an active weekend. Every week research and find an activity that is active that you can do with your kids and partner. Examples might be to find a trail to hike, go to an indoor bounce facility, snow shoeing, soccer outside, or walks on a boardwalk with the baby in the front pack. Heck, go to the nearest playground jungle gym with your kids and make it your boot camp challenge for the day. Strollers, now-a-days, even allow for your babies to go along with you for a fast paced run.
Be prepared to be flexible
Consistency over time is more important than every week getting in every workout. The reality is life happens and even the most planned out perfect schedules change if you have a family and kids. The best thing to do is to not let it drag you down and prevent you from picking up next week. It is important to remember that what we eat is more important than working out for the most part. Diet is key to total body composition. Eating perfect is hardly realistic for most working mothers, but with good planning you can be able to eat healthy portions and food 80 percent of the time. Biggest point to be made; don’t beat yourself up if things don’t always go the way they are supposed to.
Remember if you are not getting enough sleep due to night feedings or going to bed too late, then you are producing stress hormones that prevent us from being our best physical selves. If you are not sleeping enough then you are also not producing sufficient hormones needed to repair and rebuild the cells of your body. Your sleep is crucial to having your body work for you instead of against you. A couple of years back I would have really bad insomnia from stressors that were in my life and during that time my body did nothing positive and very much went backwards in health. If you don’t get enough sleep it is also proven that you will be more tempted to reach for carbohydrates or simple sugars to get back that energy you don’t have and further pushing your healthy goals the wrong direction. So, if all else fails, sleep and eat healthy over gym time.
Break up your workouts
When the day is really busy do some high intensity training (HIIT) at home. 10-15 minute spurts will surely accomplish some great fat burning and will not be so time consuming. Spreading the workout throughout the day is possibly one of the best ways to get it done while gearing up your metabolism. Try 15 minutes before work and then 15 minutes after work or in the evening.
Spend less time on social media
Think about it, we all are guilty of scrolling around seeing what everyone is up to or reading crazy unimportant articles. Before you know it 20-30 minutes have passed and you could have gotten some serious HIIT training in. Gift yourself that quality time rather on spending it on people and things that may not serve you or your goals. Make a commitment to yourself to make your life better instead of looking at other people’s life for a good part of your free time.
Practice for them-Gym for you
If your little one goes to ballet, soccer, or goes on a play date use that time to head to the gym.