The number one question I hear as a personal trainer is, "How can I find the time to exercise?" For most busy people, finding time to work out in a jam-packed day can seem next to impossible. When you’re a busy mom, any brief window of time that might be available tends to get taken over by mom responsibilities and kids’ activities.
I’ve written before about being okay with ditching the kids to work out when you need to, but what are some other ways you can make time within a busy schedule?
First up, it’s time to let go of the 'mom knows best' mentality. Are you always the one to get the kids ready for school and always the one trying to wrestle them to bed at night? (Seriously, my son is just a toddler, and he is already choosing the longest books he can find for storytime when he knows it’s nearly time for bed. I guess it’s a scientific fact: kids hate sleep.) Whether or not you’re okay with your role of always being the one to get the kids ready, if you have a partner to help out, then that is time you could otherwise be working out. Ask yourself why you’re taking on the lion’s share. Are you afraid your partner won’t do as good of a job at it or forget a key detail? Maybe it’s time to relinquish a little control and let your partner learn for themselves how to do the kid wrangling while you sneak in a workout.
If you’re a single mama, it’s even harder to find time, especially if you’re working outside of the home, paying for childcare. A lot of the time, moms feel like they need to justify themselves if they’re paying for someone to take care of the kids while taking time to look after themselves. What about putting together a mommy group where for each playdate, one mom gets the chance to go work out while their kids are being watched? Looking into which gyms offer childcare can also be a lifesaver.
When you’re a busy mom, it’s not just having no time for exercise, it can sometimes seem like you have no time for anything. If you find yourself saying yes to every invitation to hang out with a friend if you can squeeze it in, then evaluate those invitations. If it’s a friend you truly want to spend time with, what about shaping the date to fit in with your workout needs? Rather than meeting for cocktails every time you go out, you could go to a yoga class and then coffee afterwards, or a walk, or a run, or a spin class ... you get the idea. (Sometimes you do need the cocktail, though -- use your judgment, mama!)
What would happen if you just had a set routine of fitting in exercise? How quickly do you think your family would adapt? My guess is pretty quickly. "On Tuesday and Thursday nights, mommy is at the gym." Done. You may need to compromise with your partner over this, and then Tuesday and Thursday mornings are their time to go to the gym. You’ll adapt to that, too.
Finally, be honest with yourself about your motivation. If you are not ready to make fitness a priority in your life, it will just seem like a chore to be scheduled and something you need to 'get through' rather than truly enjoy. If that’s your experience, try switching up what you’re doing! You may think you hate exercise, but more likely you just hate what you’re doing for exercise now. Think about activities you enjoyed as a kid, or in high school, or college, and see if you can try those again. Don’t discount activities you’ve never tried because you assume you won’t enjoy them, or won’t be good at them. You might surprise yourself.
How do you make time for exercise? If you feel like you can’t fit it in, do you think any of these ideas would work for you?