Exercise with kids

We all know that doing most things with kids is about a million times harder than without. Just going to get milk can go from a five minute dash to an hour long adventure of epic proportions that always seems to leave you frazzled, about $45 poorer and the keeper of any number of heavily-sugared, chocolate-faced children. Or does that just happen to me?

Fitting in fitness is no exception, and as solo Mum to four kids ranging in age from 11 to four, I’ve tried any number of things to make my workout time a priority even when I’ve got a hyperactive, boisterous, noisy kid hanging off me (no doubt a sugar hangover from when we went to get milk… whoops!).

No matter how you like to move, here are some ways to make it work for you if you want to.

1. Get out of the house.

We all know how important it is for our mental health to escape the confines of home sometimes, and if your social opportunities are limited joining a gym might provide a great way to spend some time with other grown-up people while you get fit. Novel!

Many Crossfit gyms have areas where children can hang out for free while parents do their workout, and some even have parent/child classes.
This might be a great option in you have a toddler or pre-schooler who is happy to be away from you but still have you in their line of sight.

If you prefer standard gym environment or would love to get into group fitness classes, there is often a creche available and the prices are reasonable. This gives you the confidence of knowing your child is in good hands and close by so you can get on with getting awesome.

Many areas also offer personal training and outdoor bootcamp sessions where kids are welcome to come along, so take the time to investigate what’s going on near you.

2. Run like the wind.

When people ask me why I started running, I often reply because I have four children. I am mostly joking. But there is something incredibly liberating about pulling on the trainers and just running away from it all for a while.

I will confess that I have a little partner envy when it comes to running. I’m a morning person and would love nothing better than to set my alarm and be off and running first thing before the kids wake up and the day begins. I suspect leaving four kids sleeping alone in the house is not the wisest of plans though, so I don’t do that.

If you have a partner, you might be able to do an early morning run. And just think how brillliant you’ll feel having the whole day ahead of you and your health taken care of before the rest of your family even know you’re gone?

For me, I plan my runs for days that my youngest has kindergarten or I use the odd babysitter when I need to. Yes, that is how important running is to me, and I am worth it.

If you have never run before and don’t know where to start there are lots of cheap and free apps available or if you’d prefer to have the support of other women just like you, you might love our Operation Move Learn to Run program.

3. Off the couch, on the carpet.

Sometimes, for whatever reason, it is just too hard to get out of the house.

Once you’re done with sulking (it’s okay, I’ve been there too and sulked for the country) it’s time to think laterally.
One of the best things about working out at home is that your kids SEE you exercising. They see you valuing yourself, taking care of your health and being active.

Often they might want to join in, sometimes they might be a massive pain in the abs, but it is worth remembering that what you are modelling to them is priceless.

There are many options for home workouts including DVD’s, YouTube channels, podcasts, even online courses like our Move It virtual bootcamp. We’ve found the key to success for many women centres around social accountability and engagement, so whatever you do find a URL or IRL buddy to check in with and to keep each other honest.

In terms of getting through with minimal interruptions, I can personally recommend the ABC Kids iView app for emergency distractions along with vegemite sandwiches… works at our place anyway!

4. Don’t beat yourself up.

Sometimes, it just is really, really hard to make exercise work when you have young kids. It just is.

The thing to remember is that one day that doesn’t work out is just that; one day. Tomorrow is there for you to try again so go get a coffee, be kind to yourself and get ready to get stuck back in as soon as you can.

It is never going to be perfect, but it never has to be.

Just keep trying new things until you find what works for you and know that your whole family is benefiting from your commitment to being your healthiest, happiest self.

Written by Zoey & Kate from Operation Move