10 Ways to Stay Active as a Working Mom

Mastermind Weekend 1/16

Hey there!

I'm Tina

I’m the owner of Carrots ‘N’ Cake as well as a Certified Nutrition Coach and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner (FDN-P). I use macros and functional nutrition to help women find balance within their diets while achieving their body composition goals.


An in-depth, 4-week reverse dieting course for women who feel like their metabolism has slowed down, think they might have hormonal imbalance and can’t lose weight no matter what they do.

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.

9. Multi-task
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?




  1. I think early morning is the best time for any mom to get some uninterrupted time. I get all my runs in before anyone’s awake most days. Also when they were little, the jogger was absolutely essential if I wanted to get a run in. I didn’t run solo until my youngest was over a year old.

  2. I love this! I worked for a little bit and I would also add “don’t feel guilty” as well- all moms (and dads) need to take care of themselves before they can take care of their kiddos. I will be sharing this post with my working mommy friends.

  3. Wonderful tips! I am not a mom yet so it is hard for me to totally relate, but I love your very last message. I think positive thinking and a glass half full approach is half the battle for anyone who has a busy schedule and struggles to make time for exercise. I like your first tip best. I get my workout in at 5 am every morning since I don’t necessarily know what my day will hold and when I will leave work. No excuses 😃

  4. Great post! I too am a better mom and wife when I work out and stay active. I also have to get up at 4:30 am to get my workouts in before the family wakes up. Once they’re up, then working out is harder to do.

  5. Great information and inspiration, thank you! I’ve been concerned about balancing my work outside the home with working out and the baby that’s coming in Feb. Unfortunately, I also have to balance my “other full-time job” as a freelance writer and that business, which is at home. But I’m learning some things have to be prioritized.

  6. I am a stay-at-home mom, but one thing I have found that has made all the difference for me is finding a gym with childcare. It is really reasonably priced and I get some time to myself while my little one gets to play!

  7. Work in a tower or tall building? STAIRS! Some days I don’t have the consolidated 1/2 hour to work out because of meetings or commitments, so I just try to walk the entire flight of stairs 2-3x a times a day. It hits that sweet spot where you get a break from the desk, a physical challenge to tackle and yet re-emerge not too sweaty!

  8. I agree with the comment above about not feeling guilty. I try to model the lifestyle I want for my daughter to have and working out is an important part of that! The best investment we have made for fitness has been joining a family fitness center with kids programs. I can sign my daughter into a fun and active activity while I work out. Then we’ve both had our exercise for the day and we’re both in better moods:-)

  9. Now that my kids are older (6) and (4) they love to play out in the driveway. So instead of just sitting there watching them, I set up a punching bag in my garage, along with some weights and a jump rope. I make up different workout routines and the kids get involved too. My daughter loves to race me around the house. Some days I feel like I get in a better workout than when I go to the gym!

  10. My problem is I cannot find the energy to even start. I know it sounds pathetic but seriously…I know I’m probably so tired as a mom because I’m not exercising. I love this post. Any ideas on beating the dreaded fatigue? 🙂

    1. @Lisa: That is a great question! Three answers that may or may not help:
      1. Coffee. No explanation needed.
      2. Clean up your eating – and less sugar. I have found that this give me more energy.
      3. Once you start, you will have more energy. You just have to start, which I know is hard. But if you “fake it until you make it” it might work. 🙂

  11. What a great post. I just had a baby on 9/9 and am already concerned about getting back to my workouts. These tips are all doable. Thanks so much!

  12. Great post. I am a mom of 5 month old twin girls and I work outside the home. I am still trying to find time to work out regularly. All your tips are relevant and inspiring.

  13. Great post! I am now a working full time mom and my husband is gone a lot for his job. I stayed at home with my little one for the first 14months of her life and we always went for walks and I had time to do workouts at home. Now things are so much more hectic! I have really let my workouts become a very low (non-existent) priority and it is affecting me!

  14. It is really hard to balance work, family, and exercise but it is doable. For a while I tried to get up at 4:30 to do my workouts before work, however I am not a morning person at all so I switched back to working out after everyone is sleeping. It works for me.

    I really liked that you mentioned that being flexible is very important.

    Thank you for your encouragement!

  15. These are great tips most of which I follow as well! It’s definitely a team effort for me and my husband. I’m lucky he’s supportive of my training schedule – and also lucky that I live less than 10 min from my Pure Barre studio that has daily 5:30 am classes!!

  16. I get up and out of the house at 4:45am. My husband does morning routine and drop-off. I am able to get to the 5am CrossFit class and to work by 7. And I have a wonderful boss who says, as long as I am at work by 7am, he doesn’t care if I use the first 30 min of my work day, showering and getting ready. I have tried to workout after work, before I get the kids from daycare, but the Mommy Guilt is too much. I start calculating how long they have been at daycare, and I just can’t do it!

  17. Great tips! I start work at 7, but I still get up early for some workout DVD action. With 3 kids & a full-time job, home workouts are a must! The gym is just too expensive, plus childcare for 3-nuh uh. I love Jillian Michaels and The Firm. I think your motivational messages are super-cute, I’d like to do that also. Thanks for sharing!

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