How to Stay Active as a Busy Mom

By Rebecca Platt, for BabyFit

I'm not a real mom, but I did play one once.

Some friends of mine, planning an overseas trip, asked me to stay with their boys while they were gone. Honored to be chosen-- especially after I heard that the boys, ages 12, 14, and 16, had approved my appointment-- I took a deep breath and plunged in.

Boy, was it an education! When I wasn't planning menus, budgeting, shopping, cooking, and cleaning up, I was on the run: chauffeuring, doing laundry, playing homework cop, high-tailing forgotten permission slips over to school, and herding kids to bed. Following the daily schedule left by my friend (a blow-by-blow timeline in 15-minute increments, punctuated with humorous asides like "It's now 8:20 and you're late for choir practice-again!"), I kept trying to find a slot for the gym. Used to long lovely stretches of time, I now had it in snatches. Five minutes here. Ten minutes there. I finally realized that if I was going to get in any exercise, I'd have to make the most of those little snatches of time.

Here are some ideas I followed that helped me fit in small bits of fitness in small bits of time:

During Drive Time
Try some isometric exercises: Squeeze your glutes, contract your abs, work your calves by raising your legs up on your toes at red lights. Park far away from your destination so you'll have to walk; arrive early to your event if possible to allow time for a brisk walk.

At Programs, Practices, and Games
Walk around the facility before or after the event; look for chances to combine a class or activity with those of your children. For example, take aerobics while your daughter has basketball practice.

While Keeping House
Shop at big stores where there'll be lots of walking; do meal prep and cleanup with a little music and dancing. Clean to music, and shun some of your labor saving devices (like remotes). When doing yard work, keep moving! Use your leg and glute muscles (instead of your back) to shovel, rake, move dirt, etc.

When doing laundry, do squats to pick up unfolded laundry from the basket, and take fitness breaks during homework time, such as stretching or jumping rope for three minutes. (Your kids will love it!) Become your dog's best friend-- most dogs are always ready to boogie. (And let me tell you, when you walk a dog on a regular basis, boy can you feel the love!)

For Play Dates
Keep in mind the old adage that children live what they learn. If you don't want your kids to be couch potatoes, be a good example. Walk to the library for story hour; plan regular play times at the park or pool; when snow keeps you home, go play in it. By making physical activity fun, you'll lay the foundation for your kids to have healthy, active lives. What's more, you'll rediscover that activity can be fun-not just another item to check off your grown-up list!

Related links:
Fitting Healthy Habits into Your Hectic Life
7 Hidden Ways to Get Better Sleep
Relaxation and Meditation Survival Guide

BabyFit is a sister site of SparkPeople .com, the country's largest health and fitness website. Learn more --and get a free fitness and diet plan.

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