Many people have a fitness goal in the New Year. For parents, though, it can be tough to find the time to exercise when kids are constantly in tow.
Local mom, and SE Portland/Happy Valley FIT4MOM franchise owner and instructor Tiffany Kilpatrick, says that the key to sticking with a fitness goal is to incorporate the kids into your fitness routine, instead of only trying to carve out time away from them to be active. Incorporating an active lifestyle with your children can be fun and rewarding for both you and your kids. It also passes along great lessons to your kids.
Here are her top suggestions for staying fit with the kids.
- Focus on active activities you can do with your kids. A morning yoga class all by your lonesome may seem unattainable at the moment. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still be active. And being active with your kids can actually give you an opportunity to connect through movement, and identify opportunities for encouragement and mutual accountability. “Kiddos can throw-on their rain gear to go stomping through the mud puddles. Snow brings on the sledding, snow ball fights or just walking to the store becomes a bit more of an adventure. We have mountains, hiking, camping, waterfalls, the beach. . . .” the choices go on. Even a trip to the playground can be active! If you just can’t leave the house, you can also check out some kid-friendly exercise videos. We love Cosmic Kids yoga—totally free, and engaging for kids and adults alike.
- Take part in a mother-child fitness class. You can find plenty of classes around town where you and your kids can both get moving. Try out a child-parent yoga class, or a gymnastics or open gym class.
- Bring the kids along while you work out. An exercise class like Stroller Strides allows you to set yourself up in a fitness routine without having to worry about what to do with the kids. Go for a hike, either by yourself or with other families through Hike It Baby, or try out one of these jogging stroller-friendly paths or bike routes. There are also a number of gyms around town with drop-off childcare options. Having kids with you when you work out “doesn’t even require a formal or significant investment,” says Kilpatrick. She recommends stopping at a local park or field on your way home from the store, or taking your kids on a few loops of the perimeter of the park. Even if your kids only make it one time around, don’t worry. “We motivate our youngest, who prefers being carried, that he is growing his ‘hiking legs’ every time we take a stroll,” says Kilpatrick.
- Just keep moving. Look for ways to keep you and your kids moving during and between your regular activities. Kilpatrick suggests the following:
- Insert impromptu dance parties into the natural transition moments in your day. Turn on music and dance for five minutes between breakfast and dishes. It will give you chance to connect with the littles and get your heart rate up.
- Schedule walks to break up the day. An active lifestyle doesn’t have to be regimented and extreme. If you can’t get out for hikes or formal classes, just build a once around the block routine with your kids to keep everyone active.
- Alternate outings with fitness outings. Combine exercise time with play dates. Swimming at the community center for preschool swim days or meeting up at the Indoor Parks is great way to squeeze in active time. Instead of meeting at the coffee shop, invite your fellow mom over to exercise with you while the kids play. You get thirty minutes of exercise and they get thirty minutes of social time with friends.
But careful—exercise can be used for good and evil! Says Kilpatrick, “Our boys are 3.5 and 2.5 and sometimes they try getting out of tasks by claiming an exercise. ‘Hold on mom, I’m doing push-ups!’”
What are your tips for incorporating fitness with your kids? Tell us below.