Exercise Tips for Parents of Young Children

Updated on May 23, 2018
Lauren Flauding profile image

Lauren is a busy mother of two magnificent children and loves music, food, and experimenting with her hairstyle.

Parents of young children are inevitably very busy, and it’s often difficult to find time for exercise. But with a little mindfulness and creativity, you can fit in some exercise throughout the day, and even provide some fun and entertainment for your kids while you’re doing it.

Around the House

These tips aren’t just for parents—they can apply to busy people at home and at work as well.

  • Go up and down stairs frequently. Don’t shy away from inclines. If you need or want to get something from upstairs, run up there. You could even go up and down twice for every time you need to take the stairs.
  • Engage your core. Pull in and tighten your stomach muscles when doing housework, sitting at a desk, or waiting for someone to finish something. This will not only strengthen your abs but will help your back and your posture as well.
  • Amplify your walk. When walking between rooms or around your house, try picking up your knees a little, or anything that requires a little more effort than simply shuffling around. Check out the following video for inspiration. (Yes, these walks are pretty ridiculous, but if you walked around like that, it would be an incredible workout!)

On the Floor

  • Sit up straight. My daughter loves when I sit on the floor with her to play with toys or read, and I’ll often sit up straight and engage my stomach muscles at intervals.
  • Planks: When I’m encouraging my baby to do tummy time, I’ll sometimes lie on my stomach as well and do a few sets of planks.
  • Yoga: Try to get your toddlers to do it with you. They might get bored, but they could really enjoy it.
  • Playful wrestling: What young kid doesn’t love attacking their parents when they’re lying on the floor? This romping and pretend wrestling has the potential to burn a lot of calories.

Out and About

  • On the playground: If possible, climb up the slides with your children and swing on the swings. Teeter totters are great leg workouts when the person on the other end is significantly lighter than you.
  • At the park: Run in the grass with your small children or chase them. They’ll love it!
  • In the car: Driving around gives you another great opportunity to sit up straight. Additionally, while you’re sitting there, you can do some intervals of flexing your buttocks. I like this one because it’s generally inconspicuous, although you can probably make it as conspicuous as you please.
  • Take a walk. You can walk down the street, to the park, around the backyard, or around the store or the mall. Your kids can walk along, ride in the stroller, or ride on your shoulders.

With Your Children

Use caution whenever you exercise with your children. We all know they can be a little unpredictable, so pay close attention so that you don’t, you know, drop them or something.

  • Weight training: If possible, do squats while holding one or two of your kids. They can be a decent substitute for weights, and it’s fun for them. If it’s safe, lift them up above your head and back down. Let them sit on your feet while you do (or try to do) leg lifts.
  • Leg press/airplane: While on your back, position your feet on your little one’s stomach or hips, hold their hands, and lift them into the air, pressing up and down. My daughter loves to play “airplane” with me.
  • Dance: Turn on some music and dance with your kids. Good workout, good times.

I don’t do all of these suggestions all of the time, but I do them enough to feel like I’ve gotten adequate exercise, and it keeps my energy up. You probably won’t be able to get a dedicated session in—this is more for intermittent exercise. Often, as parents, it feels like we’re always trying to catch up with someone or something. By working in a few exercises, it helps us feel slightly ahead of the curve and not like we’re always reacting to something. Some of these tips are a little more ridiculous than others, and you might not be able to take yourself seriously sometimes, but overall I believe it will make you feel energized and a bit healthier.

What usually keeps you from exercising?

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