Inside: Finding time to exercise as a working mom using multitasking, small pockets of time, and with a little help from technology.
Finding time to exercise can seem impossible as a working mom. There is no time. For anything!
But in reality, there is a little bit of time. Perhaps just the amount of time you need to get in those endorphin boosting calorie-burning activities that leave you feeling good in your heart, your mind, and your jeans.
So if you are struggling with finding time to exercise in your super busy working mom life, this post is for you!
Working on My (Moderate Levels of) Fitness
I’m not a fitness expert or one of those Instagram moms you’ll see and go “dang… how did she get those arms?” I’m not a size 2, nor do I think I ever was. Even at birth. I was a very large baby.
But I find time to work out regularly as a working mom with two kids, a full-time job with a long commute, and a side business. Generally, I’m exercising at least three times a week in the winter, five when the weather is nice.
I’m not telling you this as a humblebrag. Promise. As you’ll see here my workout regime is less a regime and more of a slightly raised heart rate life style. And it’s important to note that I work out as much for my mental and physical health as to counter my cookie dough eating habit.
But it works for me during this season of life, and I hope it will work for you
Before we get into the finding time to exercise tips though, some important notes.
Things this article will not do:
Tell you that you need to lose weight.
I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one on tv. If you are concerned about your health, go talk to someone well-trained in medicine. But if you want someone to cheer you on in using exercise to make you feel good, whatever that means for you, you’re in the right spot.
Sell you a multi-level marketing fitness system.
I have nothing against multi-level marketing fitness systems, and in fact I know people that love them. I’ve also been known to enjoy a good fitness DVD in my day courtesy of Denise Austin or Jillian Michaels. But the MLM programs aren’t for me, and maybe they aren’t for you either.
Offer any dietary tips
Given my druthers, I’d survive off of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Sadly, that’s not an option, so I’ve figured out healthier options. But I’m not an expert on this subject and quite honestly it’s always an uphill battle.
Luckily, my friend Chrissy at Snacking in Sneakers is an expert though so if you’re in the market for health-conscious meals and snacks, check her out.
Tips for Finding Time to Exercise as a Working Mom
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The Lunch Walk
My number one strategy for finding time to work out as a working mom is going for a walk at lunch. It’s as simple as that, I go outside and take a walk.
If I’m working from home and don’t have a lot of calls, my “lunch” walk might happen at 8:00am, at 12:00pm, or at 2:00pm. But as long as it’s nice out, it happens.
If I’m working in the office, the lunch walk generally does happen at lunchtime when the meeting schedule is cleared. I bring my lunch to work so I get in some sustenance while I’m working. Then I head out for a 25-minute walk around the Harvard campus.
Those office walks happen in office-appropriate attire, so I’m not going super fast or breaking a sweat. But I’m moving and my Fitbit is happy with me. It’s also a good time to fit in a quick phone call with another working mom friend out for her lunchtime walk. Friends + Exercise! Hooray!
Working from Home with Kids Tip
To make this work while you’re working from home with kids, take the kids out for a bike ride and bring your sneakers. Recess for you, recess for them. I’ve also done walking phone meetings which has been great!
Using Micro Bursts
Most of my work out strategies are cardio-based, but the microburst strategy is where I fit in some strength training.
Note, I am using the term “strength training” loosely here.
When I have little moments of time, I try to fit in little moments of exercise. For example. When I’m waiting for chicken nuggets to be done in the microwave, I’ll do 15 pushups against the kitchen counter. Or when I’m waiting outside the door for one of my kids to get their bum wiped, I’ll see how many squats I can do.
I know this sounds a little silly, but 21 squats is better than 0 squats. 14 situps are better than 0 situps. You have these tiny pockets of time, or enormous pockets of time if you have a toddler who is learning to put on their own shoes, so use them!
Work from Home with Kids Tip
My husband, Glen, also recently downloaded this 7-minute workout app which we’re taking for a spin as a family. It gets the kids’ wiggles out and even with crazy schedules right now, we can find 7 minutes.
So far so good!
The Stroller Jog
When my kids were babies, the double stroller was life.
On the weekends, I would get them into the stroller and take a long walk or medium jog and they would enjoy the scenery while I enjoyed some exercise. Even during the spring, summer, and fall, we could fit in a quick stroller walk before daycare drop off. Especially when they have both been up since the dawn of time.
Nowadays, they both opt for their own modes of transportation – Jack on his bike and Norah on her scooter. But that means I get to jog alongside them, because they are both VERY fast! And once in a while, Norah will still want to hop into the stroller or the bike trailer and go for a ride.
Work from Home with Kids Tip
Getting outside for walks/bike rides is fine by the CDC as long as you stay 6 feet apart. We’ve been taking a lot of our rides/walks in the nearby cemetery, which is less creepy than it sounds. It’s quiet and no one is there!
We’ve recently discovered Cosmic Kids Yoga in my house and it’s just so adorable. We’ve done other YouTube kids workout videos before, which have been a fun way to get in a workout and family time, but Cosmic Kids is the favorite.
The instructor does a half-hour yoga workout for kids along to a storyline like Frozen or Pokemon that keeps the kids entertained while they are exercising. It’s incredibly low impact and it’s not going to be at all a challenge for yoga fanatics, but something is better than nothing!
Plus you get your kiddos moving right along with you!
Work from Home with Kids Tip
Pop on Cosmic Kids for your little humans and get some work done for a half hour. Then you’ll have gotten some of that 9-5 work done and you’ll have more time for your own exercise routine after the kids go to bed.
Embrace the Standing Desk
Dr. James Levine from the Mayo Clinic has been quoted as saying “Sitting is the new smoking” and “The chair is out to kill us.”
It sounds extreme, but if you work a desk job then you are sitting a lot each day, on top of the drive to get to that job. And sitting simply isn’t good for our health because it slows our metabolism down dramatically.
So while standing is not exercise, it is a calorie burner and a way that you can incorporate exercise-lite into your life and improve your well-being.
At the office, I have this standing desk which I love. I stand for most of the day with the exception of meetings and it not only makes me feel better, but it also increases my productivity because I feel more alert.
Work from Home with Kids Tip
I’m hoping to get a standing desk for my home office as well, but for now my home office is my kitchen counter. And a kitchen counter works quite well as a standing desk, turns out.
If you or your company have the budget for a standing desk, totally worth the investment, but if you don’t, improvise!
Find In-Home Exercise Equipment
Remember the time Glen and I almost dislocated all of our limbs trying to get an elliptical machine into our basement in the dead of winter?
But that elliptical machine, that we got second-hand (or more likely third, or fourth-hand) has been holding strong in the basement for 7 years. It’s not fancy at all, but the $200 we spent on it has been well worth it. (And way less than 7 years of gym membership would have cost.)
Your free time as a working mom has been truncated like woah, but if you can find some inexpensive equipment on CraigsList or Facebook Marketplace and you have the space in a basement or spare room, it’s a game-changer.
No drive to the gym, no waiting for equipment. Quick workout in the morning, at night, or on a Saturday morning when the kids are watching cartoons and you’re done.
Work From Home with Kids Tip
With the gyms closed, having equipment in your home is a huge win. If you don’t have equipment right now though, even getting up and walking in place during Tiger King is going to get your blood pumping a little bit!
See! Finding time to exercise as a working mom is possible! It’s not always going to look perfect, and I know for me this is not the time of my life when I’m going to have rock hard abs or run a marathon, but I can do the little things. And I bet you can too!
For more working mom life hacks for family life, work, meals, and self-care check out the free download below!