10 Tips for Balancing Exercise With a New Baby

Exercise After Baby: 10 Tips for Working Out as a New Mom

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5 HIGH-INTENSITY WORKOUTS FOR HOME 

10 Tips for Balancing Exercise With a New Baby

Now that Quinn is here, my workouts have changed quite a bit. My time is more limited, and I no longer have the freedom to pop into a spinning or CrossFit class whenever I want, but I haven’t let my workouts go by the wayside either. I truly believe if there’s a will, there’s a way when it comes to balancing exercise with a new baby. That said, here are 10 things, many of which apply to kids too, not just little ones, that help me stick to a regular workout routine!

Get dressed

On the days that I plan to exercise, I change into my workout clothes (sneakers too!) as soon as I wake up, even before I eat breakfast. Getting dressed is sometimes half the battle for me, so once I am wearing my exercise gear, I am committing to a workout for a day. I mean, I made the effort to put them on, so I might as well get moving, right? Also, wearing my workout clothes puts me in the right mindset to just move more overall.

Exercise together

Quinn and I use our jogging stroller just about every day, some days we run or do a stroller WOD, but, most days, we just walk. It’s great for him because he loves the fresh air and it relaxes him (he often falls asleep in the stroller). And it’s great for me too because I fit in some exercise and ‘me’ time. I typically listen to podcasts (some of my favorites) and just enjoy my surroundings. Quinn and I also take a weekly stroller bootcamp class together, and I’m looking into Mommy and Me-type classes, so we can do yoga or swim together. Exercising with my little guy is the perfect way to spend some quality time together and get in my workout for the day!

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We loved the Chicco Tre Jogging Stroller because it wasn’t MASSIVE like some other strollers on the market. We even used it as our regular stroller when we weren’t working out together! 🙂

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Make it a family affair

Even better than working out with your baby is making exercise a family affair! Mal and I take Quinn and Murphy for “family walks” around the neighborhood a few times a week. We also take trips to the dog park and hike in the woods together. It’s a great way to spend some quality time together and we all get a little exercise into our day.

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Plan a GO time

When Mal went back to school, I didn’t want to get in the habit of sitting around all day in my PJs and not leaving the house, so I started to plan a GO time with Quinn every morning. Mal typically leaves the house around 7:00 AM, so I got Q and I ready to leave for our workout then too. Now that it’s a bit colder in the morning, we usually wait until 9:00 or so until it warms up a little. Sticking to this time gives our day a little structure and we get in our workout first thing in the morning. Plus, it sets the tone for the day – from making healthy food choices to accomplishing tasks/chores around the house – because we are already in motion for the day.

Coordinate with your partner

Mal and I both regularly CrossFit, and we coordinate weekly classes, so we can both go 3 times a week. I typically take Monday and Wednesday nights while we goes Tuesday and Thursday. This schedule changes on occasion from week-to-week depending on what we have going on in our lives, but we plan our CrossFit workouts at the beginning of the week, so we know exactly when we will go. Additionally, on the days when I don’t go to CrossFit, I make sure I do a workout with Quinn in the morning. (FYI: Mal and I also coordinate who cooks dinner during the week. The person who doesn’t go to CrossFit is responsible for dinner, so the other person can just come home, shower, and eat. It works great!)

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Find a gym with childcare

When the weather gets cold and snow covers the sidewalks, Quinn and I won’t be able to run/walk outside as much, so I’m thinking about joining a gym with childcare, so I can run on the treadmill or take a class. I will also work out in our home gym, but it’ll be nice to mix things up with a gym membership and, most importantly, get out of the house!

Perform small bouts of exercise all day long

Wearing my workout clothes all day long encourages me to move more by adding little bouts of exercise into my day. Some favorites include: Taking Q and Murphy for a walk, doing a set of push-ups while playing with Q on the floor, throwing some heavy stuff (a big water bottle, dumbbells) in the bottom of the stroller when we go grocery shopping. These little bursts of activity are easy to do and really add up!

Do HIIT workouts

I love quickie, high-intensity workouts. (Here are a bunch of my favorites!) They’re efficient, effective, and great way to squeeze in a workout when you have a baby. Most of the workouts are 20 minutes or less, so I can fit them in during nap time. Since I’m already wearing my workout clothes (sneakers included), I am ready to go as soon as Q falls asleep. Also, having a workout already picked out helps me focus and maximize my sweat session, so I’m not wasting precious time.

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Make it a priority

If there’s a will, there’s a way! Fitness is such an important part of my life, I make it a priority in my day. At the beginning of the week, I jot down a workout game plan for the week. For instance: Monday – CrossFit, Tuesday – 3 miles with stroller, Wednesday – CrossFit, etc. It sometimes changes a little bit as the week progresses (things pop up, weather changes, I’m just plain old tired). But, for the most part, I stick to my schedule. This also ensures that I get in my workout no matter what! Looking for some additional motivation, check out this blog post: How to Get Motivated to Exercise During Nap Time!

Remember that some physical activity will energize you

When I’m not feeling especially motivated, reminding myself that getting out of the house and doing some sort of physical activity will give me a boost of energy. Even a quick walk with Quinn around the neighborhood puts me in a better mood! Plus, I feel like once I’m in motion, it’s easier to stay in motion and continue with my workout.

Remember even though exercise is important, DIET is even more essential to your progress! I started tracking macros to keep my diet in check and ensure that I was eating a balanced diet. If you’re interested in getting your diet on track, please check out my nutrition coaching options!

Question of the Day

Moms, what are your go-to tips for working out with an infant/kids?

Body After Baby Series

77 Comments

  1. I like your idea to get dressed in your workout clothes first thing in the morning. I would even suggest to have the clothes all prepared the night before. It helps to set you up with the right mindset to get your day, and like you said, get the day started right in regards to getting a workout in.

  2. I loved walks with my son in a wrap or carrier. That way I could get my activity in and be close to him at the same time. And as he got older, the added benefits were 1- that he was heavy to carry around! and 2- he really liked being able to look around as we were walking.

  3. I do not have any children, but I think incorporating them into your workouts through running or long walks is hugely helpful. Also, the tip of getting dressed in your workout clothes immediately is really key. It is one less step standing in your way!

  4. For me when they were babies it was making it a priority, using the jogging stroller and making it park of our daily routine. I never liked being away from my kids when they were really young so childcare never motivated me to workout. Being out in nature with them was one of the best parts of it for me.

  5. I was fortunate that my husband is a bigger fitness freak than I am (MUCH more), so he was more than happy to take over the baby duties while I went to a class or for a run. Still, I work full-time so it’s hard to squeeze it in some days. I started a bootcamp class in my neighborhood at 5:30 in the mornings that worked out really good. I’d get home plenty early enough where the house was (usually) still sleeping, and if Squish woke up while I was at bootcamp Dad was home to take care of him. 5:30 was pretty early in the morning, but let’s be honest, sleep with a baby sucks anyway!

  6. I love your balanced approach to exercise. It is very interesting to see how you schedule you week and prioritize your to-do list to fit it all in. I don’t have any kids yet, but my fiancé and I employ a lot of the same tips you shared above. I am hopeful that will set me up for success when we do and provide the ongoing motivation to keep up with exercise after a baby like you have done.

  7. As a mother of 2 who also works full-time out of the house my advice is a little different as I have very limited times when I can workout. For me fitting in exercise means working out before anyone is up which means getting to the gym at 5am. I also try to get in more exercise on the weekends to make up for the lack of time during the week. On weekends I do things like running with my son in the jogging stroller or a workout at the playground while my kids play. Or I try to go to the gym during nap time so as not to cut into weekend family time.

    Either way I do agree that if it is important you you WILL find the time, even if that means getting up insanely early:)

      1. @Tina:
        oh and here is an example of a playground workout:
        30 second of work 30 sec of rest (can add or subtract time based on fitness level)
        then I do things like:squats, burpees, mountain climbers, bench step-ups, jumping jacks, lunges

  8. If I ever decide I’m ready for kids (not looking good these days, to be honest), your blog is basically going to be my bible for fitness during and after pregnancy. Your practical approach and candor about the challenges of balancing your health and your motherhood are so comforting!

  9. These are all good tips! It took me until kid #2 to figure out most of them! I have found that letting my husband know just how much better I feel after a good long run is so helpful . He encourages me to go now because he can see a difference in my attitude ! Also — and this isn’t my strong suit– letting go of expectations. Kids are so unpredictable and while I may have a workout on my calendar , but sometimes my kids just need me more .

  10. Question 🙂 I love the idea of being in workout clothes all day but my only struggle is a sports bra.. How do you nurse during the day with sports bras on? I can’t workout in my nursing bra (I’m very busty:) )!

    I usually just wear my lounge clothes/day clothes until I am ready to workout and then change into my sports bra but id love to be able to wear a sports bra all day! Did you find a good nursing/sports bra?

    1. Good question! I feel the exact same way, so I actually just wear a regular nursing bra until I’m ready to work out and then change into my sports bra.

  11. I love taking my little one to childcare at the gym. Not only does it give me a break but it helps to schedule our day since I have to book her in at a certain time. I also think that it has helped get her used to being left with other people. I never miss going since I have to book in ahead of time so I am already committed to be there.

  12. Gym with a daycare has been my lifesaver. Being a stay at home mom is hard and it’s great to be able to take an hour a day for yourself knowing you child is right down the hall. It’s helped me with no only my physical but mental health.

  13. While these are nice ideas, it would be great if you did a guest post from a woman who has a new baby, stays fit, and works. I would love to hear how someone manages getting the baby ready, nursing or pumping, coordinating day care, spending time with her husband, exercising, and working 8 hours a day.

    1. @lauren, great idea! as its so difficult to deal w/ a full time job outside, dealing w/ a boss, deadlines, co workers and a commute! AND then a newborn, house, husband. phew. tiring!

      Tina, could you also do a post about how you fit in the other things, laundry, cleaning, errands etc? fitness is important, YES but how do you do it all? unless the hubby does it?

        1. @chelsea, where did i ask to get someone to do a guest post??? lol i didn’t…..BUT if i or someone else did, that would be up to tina to decide.

    2. @Lauren:

      This was a huge adjustment to me when I had my first and went back from maternity leave. Working out was a priority so I was up every morning at 4:30 AM to pump, then workout, then get ready for work (along with the baby and packing all of his stuff), work all day, come home to prep to do it all over again the next day. Still up every morning to get workout in before work but nervous how I’m going to make it work when baby #2 comes in Jan. I will figure it somehow! Would love to hear other working moms routines.

    3. @Lauren: I am one of those people! 🙂 I’m not volunteering myself to write a guest post here 😉 but here’s how we manage: my work day is early (7:30-4:30) and my husband’s is later (9-6). So he does daycare drop-off, and I do pick-up. I pump before I go to bed so I don’t have to worry about pumping/nursing first thing in the morning if LO is still asleep when I leave for the day. My schedule is: wake up at 5:15ish, either nurse LO if she’s up, or not, leave for the gym, workout 6am-7am, shower, be at work by 7:30am. Pump right when I get to work (and again and again). Leave work to get LO, get home, put her to bed around 7-7:30pm, then husband and I eat/spend time together and I pump again around 8:30pm and go to bed at 9pm.

      The only tricky thing about this schedule is cooking dinner – I do a lot of prep on the weekends, rely on my crockpot a ton, and sometimes just cook after LO goes down so we don’t eat any later than 8pm. DH is not a big gym-goer, but if he were, he’d probably go in the evenings when I take our daughter.

      Hope this helps!

  14. That quote is pretty insulting to myself and other full time working moms. Exercising is a priority for me and I try to find a way – but often life gets in the way. Sometimes I have a late meeting or need to do more work at night. Sometimes the baby is fussy so I cannot workout in the mornings before the office – same with the evenings. Its not an “excuse” its just that many of us have more demands on our time than you do. We cannot wear exercise clothes all day and do exercise while the baby is napping. You should recognize that everyone’s professional lives don’t revolve around working out and food and be a bit more aware of your readers.

    1. I’m sorry you think that quote is insulting to full-time working moms. It wasn’t meant to be at all. If you read some of the comments from full-time moms on this post, you’ll see that they actually agree with it!

      As far as what works for me and balancing exercise with Quinn, it’s what works best for us. Of course, you should do what’s best for you and your family! 🙂

    2. @Kristy:

      Full time working mom of two here and I don’t find it insulting. I do agree that there are a lot more challenges for full-time working moms and it may not be as easy to fit in exercise as Tina mentions. I also think those challenges change at various stages of your kid’s life. For example, there may be a day when your kid hates the stroller and you can’t run with him. I did not even think about morning workouts until my kid was sleeping fully through the night. For a while my workout was a 20 min Jillian Michaels DVD after my son went to bed. When my oldest was little and wouldn’t nap in the crib my workout was walking around the neighborhood for an hour or two while he slept in the ergo. My belief was that I would do what I could when I could and not beat myself up over it if my day didn’t go as planned. I do agree though, that you can make time to do something if it is important you to. That “something” doesn’t have to mean hours of exercise or a trip to the gym. As a mom any movement in my day makes me feel better.

    3. @Kristy:

      I’ve been a stay at home mom to two boys for 1.5 years and now I’m a full time working mom of two boys and throughout that entire time exercise, in some form or another, has played an important part in my life. It wasn’t always easy. It wasn’t always at times that I liked (5 am or 9 pm) but it still happened. I jumped around from activity to activity to make it work (gym time with my kids in gym childcare, yoga at night when my husband got home, jam packed weekends of exercise while husband was home, holding baby to do squats and running up and down our stairs to get cardio in. It is possible. I know (because I’ve been there) that it’s easy to say that things get in the way of exercise. We’re too tired. Too sad. Too rundown. Too poor. Too lonely. Too whatever. But at the end of the day all you have if your family and your health, and without your health, you won’t enjoy anything else. To me exercise should always be a priority. It should not be a luxury. You owe it to yourself and your family to take care of yourself.

  15. My husband and I both work full time and the hubs goes to work EARLY so there’s no time for a morning workout. My day normally starts around 5:30-6, I do all the morning stuff (feed/dress baby, get ready, breakfast, get bottles ready for daycare, etc). I work, pick my baby up and then have a few hours at home with him and my husband. We always go for a walk (I want him to know that being active and outdoors is important!), make dinner and spend lots of time playing/watching our son grow. When C goes to sleep (7:30-8) my husband goes to the gym and when he gets back, I go (around 9pm). I agree that if it’s important to you, you WILL find time for it. Of course it’s not the easiest thing to go to the gym so late but spending quality time with my husband and son are important as well so I’m willing to do whatever it takes to fit it all in. If I’m feeling really tired and know I absolutely will not go at 9, I do a workout DVD at home while my husband is gone. Whatever it takes!

  16. I agree with many things you said, but have to admit, I have been the girl doing squat jumps while holding a crying toddler because I didn’t plan my day appropriately! Ha!

    Also, in a weird sort of way, making exercise a priority has been easier since becoming a mom, because it is my selfish/me time, as you said. If I don’t exercise, my day is completely given away to others – so I usually get it in. Thanks for the summary!

  17. If feel like planning a “go” time and coordinating with your partner are crucial! I get up at 5 am to go the gym, and my husband goes when I get back home. We are both very busy, so this works best for us. Plus it gives him so daddy/daughter time in the mornings before he is gone all day long with work and school. Having a plan is definitely the key, and you seem to be rocking it mama!! 🙂

  18. Not sure how your box will feel about this, but one couple at my box actually sets up a play pen for their little one so they can workout together and bring her along. Might be something to think about as Q gets older.

  19. As a full time working mom of a 1 year old, this is what has been working for me so far. I get everything ready the night before, clothes, bottles, etc. In the am before the baby wakes up I sneak in 30 minutes of exercise either on the treadmill, Insanity dvd, or any dvd by Jari love. I shower, get dressed, get the baby up and ready, we leave out and I drop him off at day care. I have an hour for lunch which I spend at the gym to do more cardio or strength training depending on the day. At the end of the day I pick up the baby from daycare go home and either cook a simple meal or eat leftover from the night before. I divide up the chores between me and my husband and we have nights where certain things have to get done. On the weekends is when I do grocery shopping and meal prep to make things easier for the week. The weekends are also when we spend the most family time doing activities and if possible try to sneak in a family walk.

  20. Really great tips, Tina. There are ways to fit in fitness. I think you are also passing down healthy habits to your son.

  21. I just have to comment here and say to those that comment that Tina has all day to exercise or Tina should find a working mom to talk about fitting in exercise or that a quote was insulting, blah, blah, blah why in the world do you read her blog? Honestly stop wasting your time and energy to just hate on someone. You could be working out instead.

  22. I’m not a mom yet but I loved this article! You showed that it is still possible to be fit and a mom. That’s something I worry about because working out keeps me sane. You’re awesome! Keep rockin’!

  23. We did the same thing when our kiddos were born … while on maternity leave, I started walking and jogging with the stroller as soon as I got cleared from my doctor. After that, my husband and I would go to the gym (him before work and me after work) and we would also be out walking or jogging in the neighborhood with the stroller, no matter the weather or season! Our kids are now 12 and (almost) 9, and we still – as a family – exercise outside together … we’ve got 2, 4, 6, and 8 mile routes through local neighborhoods, with hubby and me on foot, and the kids on either their bikes or scooters! Your plan sounds awesome AND your son will grow up LOVING to be outside and exercise with you!!

  24. These are such awesome tips! I love the idea of staying in workout clothes to get yourself in the spirit to workout throughout the day. It really does all add up! That’s how I got myself back into shape when my daughter was born, and on sleepless nights and napless days, how I continue to get a workout it! Thanks for some awesome ideas, I love the reminder to coordinate with your partner, it is definitely a team effort.

  25. I don’t have kids (yet), but my gym has a cardio deck with two-way mirrors, so that moms and dads can watch their kids in the daycare area. I think this would be awesome to new parents, especially, so that they can build confidence in having someone else watch their child.

    I agree with dressing for your workout early. I do this sometimes on my days off and it serves as a reminder that I need to get a workout in, even when I’m busy with other things.

  26. LOVE this and am bookmarking it for myself for after January! I am still working out hard (but being gentle) on my pregnant body, and I have to say putting the work out clothes on first thing is a HUGE time saver AND motivator!

  27. Great tips, Tina, you’re a pro already! It’s taken me 3 kids to figure some of this out 🙂

    I lay out my workout clothes the night before, I go to the gym early morning 3 days a week and I use Child Watch at my YMCA 2 days a week and then I run on the weekends. Child Watch is great in that they have a separate area for non-walkers and introduces children to a group/social situation. We even take a parent/child swim class after I workout one of the days which is a lot of fun! I highly recommend looking at the Y since they have so many options for families.

  28. You’re totally correct, When I do morning walk I feel very energized. It’s always ideal for good health to engage yourself in physical activity so that you feel refreshed and obtain healthy body.

  29. Great tips! I was wondering if you had any suggestions for non-stay at home Moms who work full-time out of the house. When staying in work out clothes all day is not an option, what would you suggest?

  30. Thank you!!!! I am a full time Nurse Practitioner and pregnant with my first child. My husband is out of town most weekdays for work. I agree that making it a PRIORITY is essential. I think you need to actually schedule work out times, even if it’s a few bursts, 10 minutes at a time, etc. I have no problem doing squats, push ups and lunges at work, either =)

  31. Finding a gym with childcare is essential some days. It’s been very hard for us (15 month old here) now that she only takes one nap. Nap time is not enough to workout, shower and get the 189 other projects done. So I workout while she naps, but when she is awake, if I have to get cleaning done, I have been showing her how to help. She has her “chores” like: putting canned items on the shelf, cleaning up toys, etc.

  32. I nixed the gym membership and started working out outside (during the warmer months) and at home (during the colder months). I also started a virtual fitness studio (I’m a fitness professional) that allows me to teach group exercise classes and workout with my clients / other women from home. Plus, knowing that there are people waiting for me helps to hold me accountable.

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