Making time for exercise can make all the difference in how you show up as a parent, partner and professional. It is virtually impossible to be a calm, empathetic and loving parent when you’re depleted. Self-care can also be a win-win; not only do we feel better, we are modeling behavior for our children and creating opportunities for connection.
Finding time to exercise, though? That’s a whole other matter.
One prevalent misconception is that in order to exercise, you must take a huge chunk of time away from your child. But what if you included your kid in your workout? There are plenty of opportunities to do so; you just need to be creative and resourceful. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
If you have an infant, toddler or preschooler:
Try carrying or pushing your child during a workout. There are lots of workouts tailored to lifting your child, strolling with her or simply exercising while wearing her. Take your child on a hike or walk (especially during nap time), or join a Fit4Mom Stroller Stride, Stroller Barre class or a Body Back class —these can done anywhere in the Greater Seattle area.
If your child is school-age:
It’s often easier to incorporate exercise when you pay attention to your child’s interests. For example, my school-age son is a Pokémon Go fanatic. At first the game irritated me, but I have seized his Pokémon playing time as an opportunity to connect with him and exercise by walking and running while he plays the game. It helps that walking speeds up the “hatching” process of new Pokémon; as a result, once or twice a week we get up at 6:00 a.m. and run a 5K together (his idea).
If you have a tween or teen:
Teens and tweens often start to pull away from their parents as they individuate, so finding a shared interest can help keep you connected. Consider playing basketball or tennis, skiing, training for a run or taking gym classes together. Over the last few years, my tween daughter has joined me for Zumba and Jazzercise classes; even though she complains about getting up early on the weekend, she says she actually feels better after taking a class with me. Having one-on-one time and exercising with your teen is especially valuable because their lives can get pretty busy, and you end up seeing a whole lot less of them.
Want some ideas about what you can do with your kiddo? Get your Fitness Together Top 20 List of Ideas (+bonus 10-minute workout) here:
This article originally appeared on ParentMap's online magazine on January 3, 2017