I am sure you know that 30 minutes a day of high-level activity can reduce you risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity and helps to release endorphin’s. It’s only 30 minutes. Why can’t I seem to get it in? I don’t even need to do it everyday. Maybe if I just get it in 3 or 4 day a week, I would be doing better than I am now, you might think to yourself.
Life with kids seems to suck the time out of my day. I have found that, if I let it, my day can be taken up by the most mundane of tasks. There have been days where I have gotten absolutely nothing done, but when I woke up early that morning, I had honest intentions to get all my chores done and get in my 30 minutes of aerobic activity. However, my day got side tracked with a sick kid, the dog who ate lunch off the counter between the time I made it and it got delivered to the kids’ spots on the table, then the re-made lunch got deliberately fed to same dog because it was “gross”, then dinner needs to get made and fed, and a uniform needs to be washed and ready for tomorrow (that was not given to me till 5 pm). By the time all that is done, the last thing that I want to do is find time for activity. Have I not been busy enough? Usually all I want is to sit on my duff and watch my show(s). Here are some ideas to get you(and me) off the couch and into shape.
Visit the Library
I know it sounds crazy, but your local library has an entire section on fitness; and not just books either. There is also a section of DVDs. The reason I am promoting the use of the library is because it lets you try it before you buy it. My local library lets me have DVDs for three whole weeks. That is sufficient time for me to know if I will like any kind of exercise. I wanted to try yoga for the first time 2 years ago. The library had 30 videos on the topic, but seeing as it was my first time I did not want to be overloaded so I picked the easiest looking one I could find called ‘Yoga for the Rest of Us’ with Peggy Cappy. I remember thinking to myself “there are old people on the cover, how hard can it be?” Just let me tell you that Peggy Cappy kicked my butt the first week I did that DVD. I was sore and although it was challenging it was a good way for me to start and try yoga. I would yell at the TV “Oh, come on Peggy, can’t we be done already?” Yes, I am slightly insane and do talk to my TV. The good thing about the library is that it also let me discover that I hate (and I don’t use that word lightly) dance workout DVDs. One of my really good friends loaned me a dance DVD and I thought that maybe it was just that one instructor or DVD I didn’t like. Alas, I am as highly uncoordinated in hip-hop as I am in a salsa-latin flare. Although the library does not make time for my workout, I have found I am more likely to try something new if it is available without spending a ton of money on it. Being able to do it at my house means you can pop it in during nap time or right after I put kids to bed, but make sure you give yourself time to unwind after your workout before bed.
Gyms with Day Cares
Quite a few gyms today offer onsite childcare. If you already have a membership to one of these I highly recommend that you use it. It is nice that your child is on the premises with you. However, if you are thinking of joining a gym for the sole purpose of the daycare there are a few thing to consider: is this membership something that I am going to use? If not, the joining fee and monthly dues sometimes cost a small fortune. Also consider if there is a mandatory time you are required to belong to the gym so read the contract and cancellation policy thoroughly. As for the daycare itself, who watches the child(ren)? Is it a licensed and experienced person or is it just whoever is available off the floor? Is there an age requirement for the kids to attend the daycare? Is there limited space and do the daycare times jive with the times you want to workout? Always, and I repeat always, view the facility to ensure that they are clean.
If you live anywhere near my neighborhood, you know that I am (as I learned last month) lovingly referred to as “that crazy lady who walks her three dogs while pushing the stroller”. The only way I am able to undertake this is by having the right tools. First off I have a great jogging stroller. I love it, and it was the best investment that I have ever made. I got it after I literally wore the wheels off my traditional double stroller. My dogs are exceptionally well-behaved walkers (besides the barking;, you can hear us a mile away). I do have to add in that when I started walking with the dogs and stroller, I only had one of each (dog and kid). It has taken me years to work up my status of 3-dogs, and 3-kids. I make sure I take the dogs with me to the bus stop so that I have no excuses to not take the dogs for their walk (and I can find an excuse to NOT do almost anything). When I put two of my three daughters on the bus, I am already out of the house with dogs in tow and ready for our morning constitutional. I also should mention that I make sure we are dressed appropriately, I keep a blanket in the stroller, and have been known to feed my youngest breakfast in the stroller (if the dog doesn’t steal it from her).
Now if you don’t have a dog, then by all means, come and borrow one of mine. Since you almost definitely don’t live close enough, consider also you probably have a neighbor who would love to loan you their pooch (heck, some people get paid to walk dogs). It sounds silly I know, but if you have a buddy you are much more likely to stick to your workout routine and a dog counts. Who among us can deny a cute little puppy dog eyes staring at us asking for a walk? Apparently not me. I just can’t say no at all. I have 3 of the buggers. If you have a reservation with your neighbor to take Scrappy out on Monday, Wednesday and Friday after work, you are committed to go for the walk, rather than just hoping you might get it in.
Now if you are truly having a hard time finding 30 minutes away from the children to get your workout in, you can trade time with other neighbors. You can trade with other parents, but it doesn’t have to be parents only. I have a girl down the street that I swapped time with. She was 13 and needed help with her algebra and I needed time to workout, so I tutored her and she watched my kids so I could get in a much needed workout. Think outside the box here.
My city sends out a magazine quarterly that announces all the local classes that they will be hosting. In every issue is a Mommy and me class. This class is designed to involve children and the adult in 30 minutes of physical activity. The class engages the children so you are not chasing the kids around (although you may be lifting and swinging them).
Include your child in traditional or DVD workouts if they are of the appropriate age. My 5-year-old loves yoga. She can switch from downward dog, to contented cow, stretching cat then into warrior one. I love that she enjoys doing it with me. All my girls like to challenge me to Just Dance on the Wii. I am putting a disclaimer in here that although I am not a good dancer, I have fun doing it.
One of the most important things that needs to be conveyed to your children is that fitness can be fun. If you don’t like what you are doing now, find something else. If you try something and you don’t enjoy it (my best friend actually likes to run, can you hear me convulsing?) move onto something else. Statistics show that if you are doing something you don’t like you won’t stick with it. There are so many activities out there that there is no reason not to find something you like, so get out there and sweat.
Just think on it, and consider using it (or re-using it) as your New Years resolution; making time for activity through small manageable tasks. You can use any of the tools I have mentioned, the library, gyms, group activities, or the dogs. Above all else remember fitness can be fun (unless you like to run, then its just torture…that’s for you S)!