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10 Clever Ways for Moms to Sneak in Exercise

How to Squeeze in a Workout When You Have Kids

We all know the mantra: eat better, move more.  But as busy moms, it can be hard to find time to get to a gym or to squeeze in a full-blown workout.   We have diapers to change, meals to prepare, children to care for, laundry to fold, and maybe even another job at- or outside of- the home!

We have to find ways to sneak in exercise into our day.

When we introduced our second child into the family, life majorly changed for our family – and, if I had any hope of getting a workout in, it would have to be at home.  There was no way I’d be able to rally both kids (and all of their stuff) to the gym for a sweat sesh. 

And now – 3 years later, the story hasn’t changed:  Home is still the winner for my workout routines.

…but, of course, even that can be a challenge. 

Here are some ways we try to make it work:

1. Include Your Child

A simple way to sneak in exercise:  Just include your child in your routine!  Rather than trying to find pockets of “free time” where your little one might be napping or blissfully distracted, just include them!  This is the best tip in rocking a workout for busy moms!

If your baby is small enough, you can even use them for some weighted exercises

Otherwise, your bigger kids love to see what mommy is up to!  My 6-year-old is all about the cardio routines. She will jump and workout right alongside me.  (She even has a set of 3 pound weights!)

And, while my little man isn’t quite as invested, he really likes to climb on me!   So that extra body weight sure adds a challenge to my planks and push-ups!  😝

Also, including the two of them has helped a lot with my self-imposed “mom guilt”.  Instead of feeling pressured to find a perfect section of time where everyone is occupied and happy, we know going into the workout that the whole family will be involved!

2. Break Up Your Workouts Into Smaller Chunks

There is nothing wrong with splitting up 30 minutes of exercise into 10-minute increments.  Do what you can, when you can. 

Maybe that looks like sneaking in a 10-minute morning ab-session and then a 20-minute walk in the afternoon.  Or maybe you can rock a bunch of 5-minute dance parties throughout your day.  You have to use your time the way that works for you.

So often we say, “Oh, I can’t find time for a 30-minutes right now” so we don’t do anything, but the truth is – there ARE options for a workout for busy moms! Something is better than nothing

SO, do what you can!

VeryWellFit.com offers a few quick ideas to make your short bursts of exercise worthwhile! – All while referencing a study available via the National Library of Medicine! 

3. Take It Outside

Often, kids feel happy and contented when they’re outside and in nature – so, strap those babies into their stroller and head outside! 

You can take the family for a walk – or even invest in an awesome jogging stroller, if you’re up for the challenge.  (When Harper was about 9 months old, she would actually nap in her stroller while I ran laps around the lake.  It was the perfect option for us!)

This is the Joovy, and is my current jogging stroller recommendation, should you happen to be in the market:

No matter how you get outside, have your bigger kids take a notebook and a pencil to keep track of everything they see during their walk.  This helps keep them engaged and they’ll feel like real nature detectives while you get your groove on.

4. Wake Up Before the Rest of Your Family

I know, nobody wants to talk about setting an alarm before you absolutely have to – but if your family is on a pretty reliable schedule, get yourself up 45 minutes earlier than the rest of them.  This is a no-brainer when it comes to finding a way to workout for busy moms. You can throw on your joggers and squeeze in a great sweat session before anyone else starts to stir.

If you’re lucky, you might even be able to sneak in a shower or a cup of coffee before they know you’re awake!

There’s something to be said for getting your workout done before any of your other obligations come into play.  (But don’t ask me about that; it’s been YEARS since my kids have slept past 6:00a….)

5. Do What You LOVE

Maybe a life lesson here?  Find the exercise that you actually enjoy doing – and do that one all the time.  If you can figure out a balanced routine with cardio AND weights, that would be the absolute best choice, but any movement counts.

With the onslaught of technology today, you can find at-home workouts for all types of interests.  Find what works for you. Use your resources:  Pinterest, YouTube, any number of paid subscriptions, and more!  Just decide how you like to move your body and GO FOR IT

In a pinch, I will always agree to a dance workout.  So, when I need to squeeze in some fitness, I will happily commit to some moving and grooving cardio. 

I recently started using a program called Obe Fitness and it is the best collection of routines I’ve found so far.

Image © Obe Fitness

The instructors are all based in New York City – and, together with the backlit stage, it all just screams TRENDY and IN.  They have a slew of LIVE classes every day and an entire catalog of Replay options, if those don’t fit your schedule.  You can choose Sweat, Define, or, Flow classes that include things like Dance, HIIT, Sculpt, Yoga, and more.  Bonus:  All routines are 28 minutes in length (apart from a handful of Specialty options).

They have a supportive Facebook group to keep you motivated – and, maybe, a free gift for signing up.

So, uhm, yeah.  Check them out with their 7 Day Free Trial

6. Focus on Making Small Changes

Finding your rhythm with fitness takes time – just don’t give up!

Try to focus on making small changes at the start, and eventually, your small changes will have big results. 

Instead of planning to exercise 5 times a week right from the beginning, why not aim for 3 workouts?  Or maybe set your alarm early only on Wednesdays?

Start small. 

Let those small changes become your new normal – and then grow from there.

7. Get Creative With Your Space

Use the resources that are available to your kids – for YOURSELF!

Take those babies out on the town and let them get physically active. Where can they play where mommy can get her sweat on, too?

Look for playgrounds or trampoline parks or anything where all ages are welcome to get moving!  (Hello, FUN!)

Your kids will be so happy to do something crazy exciting, and you get a super unique workout for the day, too! What a FUN way to sneak in exercise!

Oh, and bonus? Your littles will ADORE seeing you getting involved with them, too. #winwinwin

8. Trade Off With Your Partner

So long as your family has two adults in the house, this one will work for you!  Make an arrangement where you can trade-off who gets to exercise, while the other watches the children.  Then, switch!

This is a really nice option when you’re working with heavy weights and/or just really need some good old-fashioned “ME TIME”. 

Keep the workouts short, so neither person feels overwhelmed, and you can both get on the road back to a healthier you!

9. Save Special Toys Just for Workout Time

Make a special basket of toys/activities that are just for exercise time.  These items should only be brought out when mommy or daddy is in the middle of their fitness routine.

Fresh activity books or open-ended toys would be a great idea (think:  building blocks or freshly sharpened colored pencils and paper), as the kids will have LOTS of opportunities to use the materials in an innovative way each time.

Your children will be excited to play with something “new” and “different” – and they should be fully engaged for the 30 minutes you need. These special toys are perfect during a workout for busy moms, because they’ll cut down on interruptions!

10. Grant Yourself Grace

Remember that we go through seasons in our lives – with ups and downs throughout.  When you have little ones at home, it can be hard to find time for YOU

Maybe your workout routine isn’t quite what you would like, and THAT IS OKAY.

Grant yourself grace and know that things are always changing.  Soon enough, your kids will be more than capable of entertaining themselves (without your help!) for a 30 (or even 60!)-minute stretch of time – and you’ll have all kinds of opportunities to find ways to exercise.

Remember, they won’t always be little – we’re big on celebrating the little things right now.

For now, just do your best.

You’ve got this, mama.


Join us on Pinterest for more thoughts and ideas about Being a Healthy Mama!

Ways to Sneak in Exercise for Moms

About the Author

The Merry Kate

Katie Johansen is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University with her M.A.Ed in Children’s Literature.  She spent 6 years as an elementary school teacher in South Florida before transitioning to stay-at-home #momlife.  Now, it’s all things PB&J – with an extra large cup of coffee on the side.


10 Ways for Busy Moms to Workout

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  1. Ultimate Mom Hacks: 19 Secrets from Moms Rocking the Mom Life - | 29th Jul 19

    […] However, finding the energy and time to get a workout in during the day can be challenging. Find 10 Clever Ways for Moms to Sneak in Exercise developed by Katie on The Merry […]

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