Hi CNC readers! My name is Racheal and I blog over at Running with Racheal.
Like Tina, I write about my attempt to live a healthy life as a mom, and I loved her post on balancing exercise while having a little one. Unlike Tina, who obviously works very hard in the home, I happen to work outside of the home for my day job as a pharmacokinetic scientist.
When I first had my daughter Ina, I was pretty worried that I wouldn't be able to balance my career, my family, and my health. All three are so important to me, and I didn't want to let one slide. I am my “best-self” when I am active, so in order to be the best mom, wife, and scientist that I can be, I know I need to keep moving.
I have to admit that it was an overwhelming struggle at first, but over the last twoish years, I have learned a few things about balancing exercising as a working mom, and even managed to train for two half marathons and two sprint triathlons. So, I am pretty excited to get the opportunity to share what I have learned with you.
10 Ways to Stay Active as a Working Mom
1. Wake up early
Sleep feels good, but endorphins feel better. Ina sleeps until around 7, so I often try to get up around 5 to squeeze in my workout + blog time. I like to set inspiring alarm messages for my 5 am self to convince her to get out of bed.
2. Pencil it in
I am a planner. Every Sunday I plan out the coming week's workouts and meals and I work best when I pencil in my workouts like any other appointment. Would I skip out on an appointment with my boss? Absolutely not! So, I try to treat my exercise the same way.
3. Be flexible
Although I like to plan my workouts, I obviously can't plan around my daughter deciding to pour her milk all over the floor, or my husband needing help finding his uniform, or my dogs digging out of the backyard and suddenly my 30 minute workout window has widdled down to 20 minutes. Instead of giving up all together, I do what I can in 20 minutes. Something is always better than nothing.
4. Lunch break!!!
Having a lunch break is huge for me, and the one thing that stay at home moms don't have. It is amazing what I can get done in 30 minutes. I am blessed with an office gym, but if your office doesn't have a gym, there are still so many things you can do over lunch. Go on a walk/run, do a body weight HIIT workout, or even stay at your desk.
Before I had Ina I used to worry about not having the time to wash my hair after a lunch time sweat session. However, since then I have arrived at my office with many “mystery” fluids on my clothes, so a little sweat in my hair is NBD. Now I just spray some dry shampoo and thank God that top knots are in style.
5. Include the kid(s)
If it is in your budget, a jogging stroller is a great solution to get a workout in while spending time with your kid(s). While jogging, Ina and I talk about the cars, birds, squirrels, etc. We sing songs together. She cheers me on. Seriously - great bonding time.
Any type of counting exercise is fun for little ones. One day I was watching my niece (2) and nephew (4) and they did this entire 50/50 workout with me just because they were able to count out loud and jump around. They seriously loved it and didn't stop giggling.
Also, don't discount play time. Ina has a blast “racing” me or sitting on my back while I attempt to plank or do a few knee push-ups.
6. Take advantage of weekend nap time
You better believe on Saturday and Sunday around noon I am doing something for ME. Sometimes it is reading a book, sometimes it is catching up on TV, but most often it is doing a workout that I want to do, that I don't have to plan around anything else. Weekend naps were when I completed almost all of my long runs for half marathon training, or when I went on my longer bike rides.
Usually my husband takes a nap with Ina during the weekend, but if he is busy, I try to call in someone else. There are plenty of people who want to see your kids - aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends, etc. Take advantage of it!
7. Invest in some home workout equipment
Obviously, leaving the home is a little more difficult with children. Make working out easier by giving yourself multiple options at home. I have found that having a treadmill in my basement and a few free weights does wonders for me. I just set the video monitor up on the treadmill and run until Ina wakes up.
A few other ideas: jump rope, spin bike, pull-up bar, and...
8. Workout Videos
I fell in love with workout videos when Ina was an infant. They are usually short (around 30 minutes) and require little to no equipment. They could be paused when she started crying and restarted after I rocked her back to sleep. I really like Jillian Michael's Ripped in 30 and T25. Amazon Prime and YouTube also have a slew of videos to try.
Is there something you can get done for your job while exercising at the same time? Think about it.
Things I have actually done while working out:
- Read a study protocol on the treadmill
- Practiced a presentation in my head while on the bike
- Listened in on a conference call while jogging Ina to daycare (this may have been pushing it).
10. Give yourself a break
There are some days, despite my best efforts, when a workout just doesn't happen. Instead of getting down, I try to focus on what I will be able to do the next day, or next week, and stay positive. Missing one workout isn't going to change anything, but missing many will.
It is funny how much I started appreciating my workouts once I was scared they might disappear. Now, instead of dreading them, I always look forward to this time I get to work on getting to a better version of myself. A positive attitude is half the battle.
Other working moms - what did I miss? What do you do to find balance?