7 Ways to Balance Work, Family, & Fitness
Do you struggle making life work with the needs your family has and pursuing your fitness goals? Do you wish you could add a few more hours to your day to fit fitness in? Do you want to get in shape, but not have an idea how to do that with your already busy life? Fitness and motherhood are seemingly mutually exclusive or an oxymoron. Often times it can feel like two magnets that are always forcing against one another refusing to connect.
As I sit down to write this article what I want more than anything is whoever is reading this to know that I fully understand the constant struggle of pursuing fitness as a busy mom. I get it. I’m right there too. Four of my five kids have been sick this week, which means very little sleep and around the clock care. I know without a doubt that there is a greater chance of Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez getting back together than there is of me making it to the gym today…and quite possibly the rest of the week.
The sicknesses my kids get NEVER respect my schedule, or my goals or my sleep. But the thing is, as moms, it not like this is all that abnormal, right? It’s not like once the kids are healthy again nothing else will interrupt my plan and my fitness schedule. Let’s be honest: Something ALWAYS comes up. Something else is ALWAYS (seemingly) more important. Something else ALWAYS begs for my time.
If you’re reading this and you’re a mom then I KNOW you’re busy! That’s not the question. Being a mom is not for the faint of heart. It’s time consuming and exhausting and is no small thing. But, might I offer, your health is no small thing either.
Here are seven ways that help me find balance and motivation as I combine my love for my family and my love for fitness.
1. MINDSETS MATTER
What you believe impacts how you act. Keep the pursuit of fitness simple.
If you think of fitness as a ‘BIG’ deal that requires a wealth of information and immense amounts of time then you won’t even attempt it because the reality is there just isn’t ever enough time. But, if you change that thinking and choose to view fitness as part of your normal “everyday” then you’ll begin to view it as much more attainable/accessible/approachable.
EXAMPLE: There’s no way for me to make it to the gym to get in a full workout on a day like today with 4 sick kids, but rather than call it a loss I can do squats in my kitchen as I prepare some tea for my sick children, I could do jacks in between laundry loads, I can do “box jumps” on my stairs as I go up and down all throughout the day, I can put on a workout video on in my living room with my kids on the couch right by me. I may have to start and stop that video a thousand times, but at some point I WILL finish it.
2. HAVE A PLAN
I cannot stress this one enough. If you have a plan to know exactly what to do you are more likely going to do it. But, if you haphazardly toy with the idea that you’ll ‘at some point throughout the day do some kind of exercise if you feel like it and if you have some extra time’ then you will NEVER do it. Trust me. It’s just like spending money. If you wait until you’ve done everything else you’ll never have any extra. But if you invest in your fitness plan as what you want to “spend” your time on you’ll get to it because it’s a priority and you don’t have to waste any extra minutes wondering what in the world you should do.
In the evening, take a few moments to think through the next day could look like. Get in the habit of taking that quick glance and deciding what time you will begin your workout. Not every day has to be the same. Tailor your workouts to what the day requires and then literally schedule your workout in your calendar.
EXAMPLE: Choose to view your workout as you would a meeting or an appointment. I often refer to my workouts as a meeting I have to get to when I speak with others. If someone asks if I am busy during my scheduled workout time I respond by saying, “Yes, I am busy. I have a meeting, but I could get together at a different time!”
3. MAKE CUTS OR CHANGES WHEREVER POSSIBLE
What can you cut to make more time in your schedule? If you’re going to make fitness a priority what else can you do away with to make that time happen? Do you watch a lot of TV? Do you spend a great deal of time crafting? Do you often take the morning really slow? Or what could you multi-task to do fitness AND that “other” thing you love simultaneously?
EXAMPLE: Personal confession: I LOVE watching the Bachelor on Monday nights! It’s now part of our “schedule” that I go to the gym and watch the Bachelor every Monday night from the treadmill. I walk at a steep incline during the show and run HIIT sprints during all of the commercial breaks!
4. BE CREATIVE
Think outside the box from normal gym workouts. You can get a workout in anytime/anywhere. Use sidewalks, bleachers, parking lots, parks, stairs, curbs… anything you can think of!
EXAMPLE: If you have kids in soccer, run laps or do lunges around the field while you watch the practice. If you have a daughter in ballet, find a park near her class and use the time that she is in dance to get a workout in for you too. If you take your kids to the park, do burpees, push ups and sit ups while you push your child on the swing. If you go for a walk with your kids, work in some squats, lunges or some jogging and switch exercises every time you get to another crosswalk. Choose parks to visit that have hills you can run up and down. Use the park structure to do pull ups or a bench to do tricep dips.
5. GIVE YOURSELF “5 MINUTES”
Fitness is mostly a mental game. The lack of motivation in the transition from what feels comfortable in the moment to move toward what is perceived to be uncomfortable is often what keeps us from even beginning. But give yourself five full minutes of your actual workout plan and then decide if you want to keep going. It’s like a little mind trick.
EXAMPLE: Here’s how it works: Get yourself changed, put on your running shoes and tell yourself to give it just “five minutes.” Get your music started, begin your workout and after those five minutes are over ask yourself if you really, honestly want to quit. The majority of the time the answer will be no. Once you’re there and doing it you’ll most likely have a desire to stay.
6. SHOP SMART & DRESS READY
I love fashion and I love cute clothes, but if I put on something that I think is cute but not appropriate for the gym I am way more likely to NOT workout that day. This may seem silly, but pursuing fitness has radically changed how I shop and how I dress. I now intentionally shop for cute fitness clothes that can be transition wear from street to gym.
EXAMPLE: Get ready in something that will work for taking the kids to school, meeting a friend for a playdate, grabbing coffee, and then making it to the gym right afterward. It will not only save time from not having to change again, but you’ll likely be much more open to actually getting yourself to the gym if all you have to do is switch your shoes or take off a sweater.
7. INCLUDE YOUR CHILDREN
Your kids love to spend time with you. They will love to workout with you too. My 6 and 7 year old boys loves to run sprints with me at the park. They love to sit on a blanket and watch me until I start to get more tired, and then they join in and race me when they know they’ll win! Then we get to joke and laugh the rest of the evening about how the boys “beat mom” in running! Let them in on what you’re doing and combine quality time with fitness.
EXAMPLE: Relays work great if you have a lot of kids! You can make a little baton out of a stick or a cardboard toilet paper tube for them to pass and then you can run the full distance while they work together to split it up. Or you can take turns carrying each one piggyback style as you do lunges back and forth.
FITNESS IS THE BEST GIFT TO YOUR FAMILY
Pursuing fitness in motherhood is not a selfish pursuit, rather it is one of the most important, most self-less and critical gifts you can give to your family. When you are strong, when you have energy, when you are at your absolute best, that frees you to love stronger and serve others who are in your care to the best of your ability. There is no greater gift we can offer our families than to give our families our best.
About The Author:
Meg is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, and now resident of Southern CA. She is mom to five young children. Meg is a writer, dreamer, pastors wife, entrepreneur, Labrada Athlete Ambassador, and a sucker for anything girly. Meg is an ex-track, cross country, and marathon runner. She is also a self-taught weight training fanatic. Meg is someone who loves to encourage women, especially moms, to pursue fitness in order to serve those around them to the fullest. This past fall Meg began a blog to share with women more ways to balance life, and exemplifying what it looks like to be a mom to five young kids all while managing the home, schedules, health, nutrition, and fitness.