5 Fun Ways to Workout with your Kids
Ever had trouble squeezing a workout into your day? If you’re a busy mom, of course you have!
One of the top 3 reasons we don’t work out consistently as moms is we don’t have anyone to watch our kids. They pester us with questions, get underfoot, and generally try our patience when we’re trying to stick to our workout routine. (My 4 year old daughter thinks it’s fun to run around me in circles while I’m trying to complete coordinated arm-and-leg cardio movements. Recipe for throwing me off my game, stepping on her toes or falling over…)
If you’re like me, you want to work out and stay healthy for yourself and for your kiddos. And also teach and model healthy habits for them. So let’s combine the two with these simple kid-friendly workout tips you can do WITH your kids. I’ve tested these, and they are mommy and kid-approved at my house.
1. Pick a kid-friendly exercise video
Since my favorite workouts are too complex for my little one to fully follow, sometimes we mix it up and I workout with a video designed just for her. Most of the children’s exercise videos I’ve found so far are free on YouTube. Realistically they aren’t well-rounded routines but they’ll help you squeeze in a little cardio. Feel free to get fancy and throw down a few push-ups or weighted squats in-between to try to balance them out. (And hey, you’re the mom leadin’ this workout train so feel empowered to veto the ones where you just can’t stand the music or cheesy voices!)
One of our family favorites is “Jump!” by Patty Shukla. This simple yet catchy song keeps you jumping up and down with a few breaks in-between. Way to rev your heartbeats! We both love Patty’s fun and modern songs and style, and she has several videos specifically designed to get kids exercising and moving. 20 minutes with Patty is guaranteed to make you sweat!
2. Invite your kids to workout with you
Something interesting happens when I say to my daughter, “hey, do you want to do a mommy workout with me?” She either…
- Runs away as if I’ve asked her to help me clean her room (reverse psychology??),
- Enthusiastically joins in and does what she can (and usually loses interest after the warm up),
- Completes a few moves here and there as best she can, or
- Pretends she didn’t hear me and continues with her current activity.
Surprisingly she usually does NOT interrupt me mercilessly. She’s been invited to join in so she feels acknowledged and either joins for a bit or opts out. Both work for me and help avoid the “hey pay attention to me now mommy” syndrome that often accompanies my workouts otherwise.
3. Get them their own workout equipment
Obviously it’s not safe or a great idea to train your youngin’s to lift massive weights or cut them loose on a treadmill. But my daughter has some special pink 1 pound weights reserved exclusively for the occasion when she’s invited to join me in a “mommy workout.” She takes them very seriously and even if the workout routine I’m doing doesn’t call for weights she usually likes to get them out and lay down for some fancy chest press type moves. Good stuff, keeps her engaged.
Before she could handle weights I gave her soft plastic blocks or other toys to substitute so she could copy me and my moves. The point is to have kid-sized equipment available for her use.
4. Create your family workout structure
Kids often thrive on structure and routine so build your daily workout into your children’s daily expectations. Think of your kiddos as your mini accountability partners—to keep their routine going you need to keep your workout routine going!
I’m the first to admit this doesn’t always work, and can be tough. But the more our exercise time becomes a routine expectation, the better things will be. My daughter now knows and steers clear of me just a tad bit more when I’m working out. It’s part of the day, just like breakfast, showers, and washing our hands consistently. It’s gonna happen whether she likes it or not, and when I’m consistent she usually falls more easily into the routine.
5. Commit to a “fun” mindset, budget more time, and stick with it!
Working out and staying healthy is important to you, right? So don’t accept any excuses from yourself! You can find a way to workout with your kids and have fun while doing it.
Switch things up—if your kids are getting in your way, scoop them up in a big hug and use them as “weights” to complete a few squats. Are they literally on your back when you’re doing a plank? Just think of the extra muscles you’re building and calories you’re torching. Are they crawling under you when you’re in a bridge or plank position? Pretend you absolutely must hold your position or their safety will be in danger. And when they’re running around you in circles, make it a game—work on your coordination to avoid bumping into them, or growl and try to catch them causing them to run away.
Sometimes the time constraints we place on ourselves boost stress. If you want to complete a 30 minute workout, and you have a little one in the room, budget 40 minutes. Only have 30? Swap out that workout for a 20 minute version to build in time for interruptions. Potty breaks gotta happen… Or let yourself know in the beginning it’s OK if you don’t finish. Wrap it up early and squeeze in the cool down. The way I look at it, running around after kids burns calories, so count that as part of your workout.
Don’t give up
No matter what you do, don’t give up! Laugh at yourself instead of stressing about missing all the moves. Have a little fun with your kids, then when it comes time for weightlifting or something they need to steer clear of, explain that it was fun but now they need to go eat their breakfast or play with a toy while you finish your workout. (I’m not above bribes…yeah, I’ll pull out my cell phone or let them watch TV if I need to!)
Think your kids won’t respond to these tips? No worries, try them anyway. You may be pleasantly surprised, and if not, hey, you’re their mom and the best expert in what tweaks will work for them. Try a few and most importantly, don’t give up. One day they’ll be too big to be underfoot and you won’t have to worry about it (but will probably miss their smaller versions). Until then, keep smiling, keep the focus, and stick with it. Your health and theirs is worth it!
What tips can you share that help you and your kids work out? Leave a message in the comments below, or email me to chat. I’d love to hear and learn from you.