As a husband to a wonderful and extremely hard working young mother, I do not understand how my wife does it all. With five little boys under the age of seven, she accomplishes and sacrifices much more than I could possibly express in this article. Between running our home, caring for our boys, giving service at church, and everything in between, her plate is very full.
I respect mothers so much for all they do, which is why it pains me in my line of work when I see so many that feel unsatisfied with their bodies. In my experience, many mothers resign themselves to the belief that they need to sacrifice exercise time or eating healthy while they raise their young children.
My wife, having been pregnant five times in the last seven years, has faced various challenges that have made it difficult to find the time and energy to take care of herself the way she’d like to. Busy toddlers, energetic preschoolers, as well as demanding newborns have proved to make going to the gym, or waking up early an unappealing option to her. And I know that she is not the only one who feels like this.
Though it may be hard, it is entirely possible to fit exercise in with the demands of a young family, and it can even be FUN!
In fact, it should always be fun.
I am passionate about helping parents see that their physical health and their family time don’t have to be compartmentalized. Life is more fulfilling and easier when we combine these aspects of our lives. Instead of always trying to find time away from the kids to exercise, why not try exercising with the kids? This way everyone improves their physical fitness and time is spent together as well. How is that for balancing daily demands and multitasking?
My wife and I try to get our workouts in with the kids as often as we can. Throughout the years we have come up with family favorites and will share a few of them with you below.
The most crucial factor with kids and exercise is FUN! We’ve found our kids have little interest in push-ups, lunges, and squats. When coming up with family workouts, we make it into a game. Making exercise fun ensures that they will grow up with a love for physical activity and increases their likelihood of being active for the rest of their lives.
As kids grow and develop their physical capabilities, they need to spend time in six basic movements.
Six Basic Movements For Children’s Physical Development:
Jumping and Hopping
We create games that involve one or more of these movements, and then join our kids in the fun. We also try to include our kids in the creation of the game. It’s amazing what they can come up with!
Here are some of our favorite games:
How about a good old fashioned game of tag? A competitive game of tag will increase heart rate and burn just as many calories as any traditional workout on the treadmill would, and it is a whole lot more fun.
We’ve come up with many variations of the game to make it more fun and include more movement. For example, instead of playing freeze tag and having our kids stay still, we say that you have to hop up and down on one leg once you are tagged so that we continue to get in movement.
A version that we love in our family is “Clothespin Tag.” We each attach clothespins all over our clothes and then go at it. The goal is to pull everyone else’s clothes pins off, while protecting your own. We usually switch things up by making the person who just lost a clothespin do some type of movement like jumping jacks before they can get back into the game.
Another one of our favorites is to make up our own obstacle courses (aka spy/superhero training courses) and use a timer to see how fast everyone can get through it. We can play this one for hours. It is great because we can easily involve all six movements. It is fun to let the kids come up with ideas on the obstacles.
Be ready to feel uncoordinated and kind of dumb as you fumble through tight spaces that your kids can fly through. It always makes for a good laugh.
Speaking of a good laugh, put some long socks on daddy and/or mommy, with half hanging loose off the ends of your toes. Then crawl around on your hands and knees. The whole point of the game is for your kids to get the socks off your feet as quickly as possible. Set the timer and go crazy.
It’s been so fun for us to see all the different activities we can invent that involve these six movements.
The best part has been remembering what it was like to be a kid and play. Sometimes it’s hard to not be a spectator parent; but my wife and I have found it’s a lot more fun to join in, plus we get our workout in while showing our kids physical activity is fun.
We feel we are giving our children a priceless example of how important it is to take care of ourselves in a way that will bless their lives physically and emotionally, while at same time enjoying the benefits of burned calories and improved heart health.
We are all healthier and happier because of the time we’ve spent together.
When my wife and I are setting our priorities, we don’t want to forget about our needs for physical activity and rejuvenation. Moms need to remember to take care of themselves while taking care of everyone else.
Question: What do you find to be most challenging when looking for the balance between fitness and family?
Challenge: Make it a priority to exercise with your kids this week. Go for a bike ride, play tag at the park, set up your own superhero training facility, or have a hula-hoop contest.