Exercise for Stay-at-Home Moms

As a mother of 2 young children, I have met many moms who have a hard time exercising namely for three reasons; they lack the energy, they lack the time, and they lack the money.

So first let me address the lack of energy.  As hard as it is to believe, exercising regularly will give your body more energy.  It’s hard at first, but once you have incorporated the habit, you will feel much more energetic.  It may take a few evenings of getting to bed a little earlier (or a little java in the morning), but you really will find the energy once you start moving.  The first five to ten minutes are always the hardest.  I also believe in the philosophy that people have different "energy levels" throughout the day; you are either a morning person or a night person.  Find out when your energy levels are typically higher and choose those times to exercise.

Lack of time is a big one, and I speak from experience.  But we all lack time.  If we didn’t have a list a mile long of things to do, we would have a very empty life.  There is always something to do whether it is laundry, cleaning, cooking, running errands, etc.  But pace yourself and realize that there are only so many hours each day and you will NEVER get everything done in one day (like I will never have the laundry completely finished).  Spread it out and make time to exercise.  The best way to do this is to look at your schedule and figure out when you realistically have time to exercise.  This is something that is unique to your situation so I will demonstrate by using myself as an example.  Follow my thought process:

1.  What is my day like and what are my restrictions?  Well, my daughter goes to school from 9 to 12 and I have my son home with me all day.  After that, I have both kids.  My daughter is older and more independant (she is almost 5)  but my son is only 15 months. My husband works during the week and I am a "day-person" not a "night-person".  So if I want to exercise I either have to do an activity I can do with my kids or exercise when they are sleeping and/or occupied during the day.

2.  When can I exercise? Here are my choices;  in the morning I only have 1 child at home who is usually awake and needs attention due to his age, however, I can exercise with him.  I can go for a jog with him in a baby jogger or I can take him for a power walk in the stroller.  If I need to stay indoors, maybe I can do an aerobics tape or just dance to music while he plays with his toys or watches something educational on TV like a Baby Einstein video.  I could also easily do strength training exercises while he plays as that allows for many breaks. My second option is to wait until he is napping, which is usually when my daughter is home but since she is older she can entertain herself for 40 mintues or so while I exercise.  I find the latter to be easier.  See how my thought process goes?  I figure out my restrictions and see how I can work around them. 

3.  How many days a week can I devote to this and how much time?  Ideally, it is a good idea to exercise most days of the week.  However, when you have children and family responsibilities it is sometimes hard to squeeze in 6 days a week, especially if you decide to use your nap time for exercise.  So maybe it is more realistic to exercise 1 or 2 days over the weekend when your husband is home and can watch the kids, and then exercise 2 to 3 days during the week.  That will leave you 2 to 3 days during the week that you don’t have to give up your precious "naptime" (or should we say "housework/shower" time).  If you can, try to exercise for 30 to 60 minutes each day, 3-5 days a week.

Now on to the third component; money.  Many moms who stay home have a family living on one income.  This can make exercise seem unaffordable as you may not have the means to pay for a gym membership or maybe even purchase a piece of exercise equipment.  My feeling on this is as such;  first decide if you can afford to join a gym.  Some benefits of doing so include having access to classes and equipment of all different kinds in addition to the child care that is often offered at some fitness centers.  Sometimes people "think" they can’t afford something, but it is really that you have not prioritized it as being worth the cost.  In other words, you may have the money but you choose to spend it elsewhere (on say 50 movie channels you never watch). 

However, if you do not have the money, my next suggestion would be to buy one piece of exercise equipment (preferably something like a treadmill), getting a good quality one, but making payments on it.  NordicTrack usually sells excellent equipment for a fair price and will give you a month-to-month payment plan with low interest or sometimes even interest-free.  When I bought my first treadmill, a very sturdy one, I believe it cost me $800 and I made payments every month, interest free, for a year.  Five years later I still use it all of the time and it is much cheaper, in the long run, then joining a gym.  Maybe a good holiday gift to ask for this year.  In fact, the front page of NordicTrack is advertising an elliptical for as low as $29.99 a month. 

As for weight training, exercise bands and hand weights are very inexpensive but can be used for numerous activities.

And finally, if you don’t have the means for even one piece of equipment, you can still exercise.  All exercise really is is moving your body.  You can dance, go up and down the stairs, even borrow exercise videos from the library at no charge.  You can go for a walk or even a jog and get the best exercise, ever!

There is no excuse.  You have the time and the means; just recognize it and make it happen!

About Kimberly Dawson, M.S.

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