Guest Author: Callie Coleman is a parenting and fitness blogger for Mommy Bear Reviews. The blog reviews baby products, fitness equipment, and weight loss programs.
Life is busy.
I mean, I’m not even sure how I have time to be writing this.
Between getting the kids ready in the morning, getting them breakfast, getting my daughter to school, feeding my son lunch and getting him down for a nap, cleaning the house, finding time to actually eat myself, getting my son up and getting my daughter from school, working at night, and teaching ESL online in the morning, there is zero time left for myself and my wellbeing.
I’m sure you relate.
So how can we, as extremely busy parents, make sure to find time to be able to keep ourselves fit and healthy?
Better yet, how can we make sure we are teaching our kids to be healthy so they don’t end up overbusy and unhealthy like us?
Here are 7 different ways to get more exercise and healthy habits into your busy schedule as a parent.
Walk on Breaks at Work
If you work in an office, it can be hard to find the time to even stand up, let alone walk around and get some movement in.
Notice that I say movement here instead of exercise. As long as you are moving, you are being more healthy than being sedentary. Exercise has too much of a structured meaning, in my opinion, that alludes to hitting the gym at a certain time. We are looking for movement in general, not necessarily structured exercise.
A good way to get your movement in is to skip the breakroom donut around the water cooler and ask a coworker to take a walk around the building with you.
If it’s winter and cold where you are, find a path through the building that you can walk, or walk around an empty conference room.
If you are really tied to your desk all day, they sell cheap under desk cycles that will at least keep your legs moving while you are sitting down.
Walk to the Park or School with the Kids
Odds are that you live within 20 minutes of a park, unless you live out in the country.
Instead of driving to the park and watching your kids play, hike it there. If the kids are older they can walk, or if they are toddlers and hard to track on a walk, break out the stroller and push them there.
When you get there, don’t just zombie out on your phone. Run around and play with your kids, or if they don’t want you to play with them that day (happens on random days, right?), simply walk circles around the park while keeping an eye on them.
Another cool way to get movement with the kids is look for other active opportunities in your neighborhood. A good example is that my daughter’s school has a track that has open access to the public when not in use. Not only did we walk the track a lot this past summer, but we would also walk to and from the track. Lots of good movement to be had if you look for it!
Track Your Steps
Just like anything you want to accomplish, tracking your progress and having a set goal will help keep you motivated to keep moving.
10,000 steps a day is what the CDC recommends. This may not be the right goal for you, but it is a good goal to shoot for. You should at least be working to increase your steps over time.
If you can start at a smaller number and work your way up, that’s great! The Noom Weight Loss Program, for instance will start you at 3,000 steps and increase your step goal by 300 every day you hit your goal.
This is an excellent way to track your progress and make sure you are making improvement over time.
There are available apps on both Android and iPhone that will track your steps for you. The problem with these is that you may not want to carry your phone with you all day, especially if you want some unplugged family time.
A better, but more expensive, option is to get a smartwatch that will track steps all day. It’s nice because you can still see the time and not be so attached to your phone, and it also tracks your sleep and steps.
Different features are available in different models, but whatever you get I would make sure your notifications don’t keep buzzing on the watch. Unplugged family time is vital for living a fit and healthy life.
Park Farther Away
This simple gesture won’t change your health overnight, or maybe not even that much at all, but it’s a good reminder that the small progress you make adds up to the big wins.
Whenever you go somewhere, park farther away from the building. This includes the office, grocery store, doctor’s office, and your kids’ school. It’s nice on great weather days to have that little bit of extra fresh air and outside time while you are walking them to the door for school. It does a world of good for your kids too.
If you take the bus more than a car, get off a stop early and walk.
Take the Stairs
This tip helps us realize that lack of time is not an excuse to not get in extra movement.
I would say most of the time you spend more time waiting for the elevator to get to your floor and then waiting for everyone else to get on and off at their stops than it takes to just hike it up the stairs.
Not only are you saving time, but stairs are a harder workout than a flat walk through the parking lot so you get bonus health points for completing this tip.
If you are winded the first time you take the stairs, don’t worry.
Health is not a sprint (unless your exercise of choice is sprinting), it’s a marathon. Go for health over time more than results right now.
Creating healthy life-long habits will do you way more good, and show your kids a better example, than just being insanely healthy and active January 1 through February 14th when you fall off your diet, because you know, chocolate.
This tip again helps with busy parents because it actually saves you some time.
Counting calories is difficult at first, but if done right can help cleanse your body and give you a ton more energy.
Digestion can take up 10% of your daily energy and if you eat way more than you should, this drag on your energy can increase.
Just cutting back on your food intake and allowing your body to process less at a time will increase your energy by decreasing the amount of processing you are doing all at once.
By decreasing your calories, you have to eat less food if you don’t make healthy choices, so to get the energy you need and the fullness your stomach wants, counting calories and eating less in a day forces you to make better food choices for yourself. A pound of strawberries is way less calories than a pound of Snickers.
This shift in your food choices will be a good example for your kids.
The increase in energy will help you keep up with them better as they are running rampant through your house!
It’s easy to count calories with free apps like MyFitnessPal or Paid Weight Loss Programs like Noom.
If you just want a quick reference on how many calories you may need to eat in a day to lose weight, please use my Calorie Calculator on my blog.
Workout After Bedtime
Sometimes our schedule is so busy that getting the exercise we need during family time just isn’t plausible that day. That’s why it’s important to take some of your “me” (or “us” if you are trying to be a healthy couple) time and workout.
Just simply getting a pull-up bar and some resistance bands is a cheap way to have a gym in the home. There are fitness programs and trainings that you can do at home if you have the money, but they aren’t necessary for getting long-term results.
Make exercising a date night a few nights a week, or crush your “me” time and get some energy and frustrations out with an intense workout.
It may seem like a waste of “me” time when all you want to do is veg out and binge Netflix after a busy day, but trust me, it will help reduce your overall stress and give you more energy to deal with your hectic day as a busy parent.
I’m sure there are countless other ways to get in some extra exercise, eat healthy, and find time to be an overall healthy and busy parent.
What tips and tricks do you use? Combine them with some of these into your daily routine and you will be a good example for your kids to stay fit and healthy, no matter how busy life gets!