How to Crush a Home Workout With Kids in the House
When you have kids, finding the time to exercise can be difficult. And when your kids are home all the time — whether that’s because of summer vacation, snow days, stay-at-home parenting, or social distancing — it can seem impossible.
At-home workouts can help, of course — you can fit a workout into any gap in your daily schedule without spending precious minutes driving to and from a gym or studio. Still, you may be wondering how to work out at home when your kids seem to need you 24/7.
A few simple tips can make it easier. “Once you get the hang of working out at home with these little people, you get used to it,” says Sara Haley, an ACE-certified fitness trainer with a specialty in prenatal and postnatal fitness who has four children ages 9, 6, 3, and 7 months old. Here’s how to work out at home when you have kids.
How to Find Time to Work Out at Home
There’s no one way to get in a workout, and what works one week may not the next — especially when you add kids into the mix. So be flexible, and try these suggestions.
1. Sweat while they sleep.
OpenFit trainer Medwin Mina squeezes in a workout before the rest of the family wakes up. Mina rises around 5:15 a.m. and heads outside — no matter the weather — so he doesn’t wake his seven-year-old and eight-month-old boys. Not a morning person? If your kids nap, work out while they doze.
2. Be prepared.
Free time is rare when you have kids, so don’t waste it rummaging around the house for your workout gear. Mina puts everything he needs — weights, mat, shoes — by the door. “Then I can pretty much get out of bed, changed, and out the door to the backyard to work out,” he says.
Haley suggests a similar strategy: Put on your exercise clothes in the morning, and don’t change out of them until you work out. Already being dressed for the part saves time and serves as a reminder.
3. Lean on your partner if possible.
If you have a co-parent who can watch the kids while you work out, ask for their help. Even if it’s only one day a week, that’s one less day you need to juggle parenting duties with your workout schedule. Chances are, once your partner sees how your workouts improve your mental outlook, they’ll be happy to help you find the time.
4. Build it into your schedule.
In order to save time and avoid any potential “I don’t know what workout to do, so I’ll just scroll Instagram instead” situations, both Haley and Mina recommend planning ahead of time. Choose an at-home HIIT workout, sign up for a live online fitness class, or just schedule a time to take a walk outside.
5. Frame it as a reward.
Haley uses her workouts as a reward for completing other major tasks for the day, such as helping with her older kids’ homeschool work. Think of your workout as “me time” — choose a workout you actually enjoy doing, and use it as an incentive for getting through your to-do list.
6. Maximize your time.
Maybe you used to spend an hour at the gym, but now you’re lucky if you can find 10 uninterrupted minutes at home. Don’t let that discourage you — even in a short amount of time, you can still get an effective workout. “Put 100 percent effort into your workouts so you can maximize your time,” Mina says. (Try 600 Secs, a series of 10-minute workouts that builds muscle and fits easily into your busy schedule.)
7. Roll with it.
Life with kids is unpredictable. “The best thing you can do is give yourself grace,” Haley says. Take rest days. Aim for a balance of strength, cardio, and stretching. And if you miss a workout one day, instead of beating yourself up, focus on the next day.
How to Crush a Home Workout With Kids at Home
Finding time to work out when you have kids is only half the challenge. How do you actually get through a home workout while your kids are constantly demanding your attention? Depending on your kids’ ages, here are a few easy ways to keep them busy — or get them to join in!
If you have babies or infants…
- Let babies have “tummy time,” or practice rolling or crawling, while you work out. “Make your exercise time their exercise time,” Haley says. (Just be mindful when you put down any weights so you don’t risk hurting them.)
- Use them as a makeshift weight. Mina often forgoes the stroller on family walks and wears a baby carrier instead, or holds his baby while doing squats, lunges, and shoulder presses.
If you have toddlers or preschoolers…
- Mina recommends having toys or coloring books and crayons to keep young kids distracted (for at least a few minutes!).
- Set a healthy example. Haley explains to her kids: “Mommy is doing this so she can be strong and take care of all of you.” And let younger kids try a mini version of your workout. “Sometimes my toddler will grab my two-pound weights and say, ‘I’m getting strong too,'” Haley adds.
If you have older children…
- If you have elementary-age kids, squeeze in a workout while they’re doing chores, finishing school work, or getting their screen time.
- Ask them to walk, run, or ride bikes with you. Or let them ride their scooter while you jog alongside them — whatever works.
- Invite them to join your workouts, modifying movements as necessary. “My older two were super into circuit training for a while,” Haley says. “This works well because they can do one exercise while you do yours.”