Finding time to work out with kids and a busy schedule

Hi friends! Happy Monday! I hope you enjoyed the weekend. We baked a ton of of cookies, met up with friends, and spent a lot of time at the park. It was a good one!

When I posted my annual survey last week, I asked about your biggest fitness struggles. This helps me to get an idea of what feels challenging to you so I can create content with the goal of helping you out as much as possible. For this particular question, there was a wide variety of responses, with two prevalent themes: finding time, and motivation. 

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Oh, do I hear ya.
I feel like these both warrant their own post, so for today, I’m going to talk about the most valuable commodity and how to maximize it: time.
Please keep in mind that I’m NOT an expert at this. Even though I am type A, I tend to wait until the last minute for a lot of things because that’s when I do my best work. I feel like I’m juggling a lot, especially right now, but I’ve gotten pretty good at making the most out of the time I have. With everything that’s going on, something that’s super important to me is getting in my weekly workouts. I feel like a human when I’ve sweat a little that day, and sometimes it’s my only time all day that I’m alone and doing something for myself. I feel selfish about my 30-45 minutes of sanity, so I really do what I can to preserve that.

Here are some of my tips and thoughts for getting in a workout when you have kids and/or a busy schedule:

1) No one is going to care if you get in a workout, but they’ll notice if you DON’T. For example, no one around is going to be like, “When were you planning on working out today? Do you have childcare figured out?” It’s just not something that’s on a normal person’s radar. At the same time, everyone will notice if I’m crabby and on edge, or tired because I didn’t sleep well. (I sleep SO much better on days that I work out.) This is something I remember often. No one is going to prioritize my workouts except for me, so it’s my job to make sure I have a plan for when and how it’s going to happen. I know how great it makes me feel, how much more productive, sane, and patient I feel afterwards, and that it’s worth taking a little time each week to create a workout plan/strategy. 
New planner
2) This one is more centered towards the kiddos, but I try to think of things I have to do while I’m alone vs. things I can do while they’re here. For example, I can’t lift weights very effectively with them home. Someone always needs 18 snacks or water, they end up jumping around and then someone ends up crying — it’s just a whole thing. Weights happen at the gym, usually when they’re at school. If I have the option of catching a workout while they’re at school or catching up chores, chores wait. It’s been hard for me to let some of that go until later, but I realized I can easily fold laundry while they’re playing or put the dishes away. It’s way more difficult to get in a solid block of workout time.
3) Make the time realistic for you. I could set my alarm for 5am every day, and we all know that I would never actually get out of bed. The same goes for later evening. After the dinner and bedtime routines, I’m ready to tap out for the night. My best bet right now is to do it while they’re at school even if it’s just a 20-minute blitz. Back in the day when I worked full-time out of the house, many shifts were 7am-7pm. So, I was at the gym at 5:30am. I made it happen because it was important to me, but it was rough haha.
4) Allow other people to help you out! If you have something you can outsource to free up more time for your workouts, assess the cost vs. benefit for the situation. Maybe it’s using a meal service or online catering a couple of nights a week so that the time you’d spend prepping dinner and cleaning up could be spent getting in a workout. Maybe it’s hiring an occasional cleaner so you can get a break with cleaning and use a little of that time for yourself. For myself, a huge obstacle is gym childcare. P suddenly hates the barre3 play lounge (which used to be our Friday go-to), so I’ll usually work out while they’re at school, catch a Peloton class during nap time, or sandwich my workout with occasional babysitter time. We have a babysitter come twice a week (once on the night when I teach, and again sometime over the weekend for 3 hours so I can catch up on work stuff). If I’ve been swamped with daytime work stuff, I’ll usually use one of those hours for my workout.
Some of my runner mom friends will also help each other out with childcare for their runs. One mama will watch the kiddos while the other goes on a long run, and then they switch. This is an awesome FREE option if you’re looking for help with childcare for your little ones.
Barre3 2
(The barre3 Play Lounge is excellent. I’m hoping P likes it again one day!))
5) Remember that you don’t need a ton of time to work out. It can be easy to find yourself in the mindset that if you don’t have a large bloc of time, it’s not worth it. So so not true. You can get in an AMAZING HIIT workout in just 15-20 minutes if you challenge yourself. Also, don’t be afraid to split up your workout during the day. 10 minutes here and there really does add up, and a benefit of splitting up your workouts if that you get multiple EPOC sessions. After strenuous workouts, our body has to work hard to restore our bodies back to pre-exercise levels (through increased oxygen consumption, decreasing tissue temperature, etc.). It burns extra calories in the process. So, if you get in 2 or 3 challenging 10-minute workouts, you get 3 EPOC sessions aka 3 opportunities to boost your metabolism. We talk about this thoroughly in my interview with Dr. Len Kravitz here.
Also, be kind to yourself. Some days and weeks are crazier than others. Just try to focus on making your workouts as effective as possible when you have the chance to hit the gym. 
So tell me friends: does time stand in the way of your workouts? What’s something that you could eliminate or outsource from your routine to give yourself extra time?
Friends who work full-time + have kiddos, when do you usually work out? 
If you’re looking for some SHORT workout videos, here are some of my faves:
I’ll have a new workout video up in the am, too.
Have a wonderful Monday and I’ll see ya soon!

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  1. Janice O'Kane on December 17, 2018 at 8:43 am

    My takeaways – “No one is going to prioritize my workouts except for me, so it’s my job to make sure I have a plan for when and how it’s going to happen. ” & ” If you have something you can outsource to free up more time for your workouts, assess the cost vs. benefit for the situation.” I’ve recently gotten serious about scheduling my workout time and I’ve been using a meal service all this month and both of those have been huge game changers. Thanks, for this post, it helps so much to hear what others do to make self-care happen! I’ll be checking back in to see what others comment!

  2. Stephanie Prause on December 17, 2018 at 9:19 am

    oh my gosh, you just hit me right in the gut with the first one. you are SO RIGHT. no one is going to care whether or not I work out….which means they won’t go out of there way to fit it in for me….but if I don’t fit it in? They will DEFINITELY notice because I’ll be crabby/tired/antsy/anxious/etc. Framing your words right now. Thank you!!!

  3. Colleen on December 17, 2018 at 9:41 am

    I don’t even have kids but I STILL find it hard to prioritize the time to workout. Mamas and Dads out there are my heroes for rocking it even WITH children. I think what has helped me recently is to realize that working out is not going to happen unless my motivations are purely self-driven. Meaning, I can’t focus on what other people want me to do – I need to find a workout that makes ME happy and makes ME feel good. For right now, that seems to be yoga 90% of the time and weight training 10% of the time, and I’m ok with that. Great post, Gina, a lot to think about.

  4. Katie on December 17, 2018 at 10:30 am

    Such good tips, even just for LIFE. You really h it the nail on the head with #1- no one is standing around pushing me to get out the door. I have to prioritize it for myself. My very wise friend said, about making time for self-care with kids (whatever self-care means to you) is to “choose guilt over resentment.” in other words, feel guilty (or don’t!) for spending time away from your family, rather than feeling resentment over your partner not just up and offering the time. I still really struggle with this one!

  5. Jessica on December 17, 2018 at 11:42 am

    Wow! I had never thought about #1…but that is some good stuff! I have two kiddos and work full time. Here are a couple of things that help me. First is to work out during the day at my work gym. I go at off times so it’s not busy and I can get in and out. My job is usually pretty flexible so I just essentially take a late lunch. If I can’t get to the gym that day, then I’m sure to get in a couple of walks with either a podcast or some music to at least get some movement in that way. I also make sure I know exactly what strength moves I am doing and have my workout printed out, no guessing or winging it.

  6. Juliana on December 17, 2018 at 12:33 pm

    “No one is going to prioritize my workouts except for me, so it’s my job to make sure I have a plan for when and how it’s going to happen. I know how great it makes me feel, how much more productive, sane, and patient I feel afterwards, and that it’s worth taking a little time each week to create a workout plan/strategy.”

    Gahhhh I needed to read that this Monday. I have been struggling so hard with this lately. No kiddos here, but I have a crazy draining job with long hours. Thank you!

    • Fitnessista on December 18, 2018 at 12:47 am

      the struggle is real! i know you can do it <3

  7. Cathy on December 17, 2018 at 1:00 pm

    Great post – really appreciate the tips! One thing that isn’t mentioned near enough, is that parents who make fitness a priority are setting an example for their kids for LIFE! It is so easy to slide into a sedentary lifestyle with all the temptations of tv, video games, internet whatever.

    • Fitnessista on December 18, 2018 at 12:46 am

      i love this so much and couldn’t agree more <3

  8. Deanna on December 17, 2018 at 2:19 pm

    your conversation with Dr. Len inspired me to be better about working out in small bursts. I’d joined a gym near me thinking I would go to classes in person, but it’s not working. Since I work from home, I’ve made myself a deal that if I was to work in athletic clothing, I have to workout too, so I set an hour timer, and spend 5-10 minutes working out (usually to a video, mostly yours and TIU) once an hour until I’m done with my workday. I’m currently on week 2, so we’ll see if I can keep it up!

    • Fitnessista on December 18, 2018 at 12:46 am

      that is a brilliant plan! so happy it’s working for you so far <3

    • Janice O'Kane on December 18, 2018 at 8:47 am

      I seriously love this approach!

  9. JennP on December 17, 2018 at 3:45 pm

    I head straight to the gym after dropping my girls at school every weekday morning. It’s just a standard part of my day, and I schedule around it like I would any other appointment or obligation. My 2 year old goes to childcare, I visit with my girlfriends, and then I take a 9am class. I keep it interesting by rotating spin, BodyPump, combat etc.

    I very rarely miss a day Mon-Fri, and I feel guilt-free taking the weekend off to relax!

    • Fitnessista on December 18, 2018 at 12:46 am

      i love that it’s just a non-negotiable part of your day. that’s the best way to make it happen (and not feel stressed or guilty about it)
      i feel like over time, i’ll purely work out while they’re in school and take the weekends totally off

  10. Casey on December 17, 2018 at 7:05 pm

    I seriously loved this post…. as a working mom with a one year old and a husband who travels a lot, this really hit home for me. A few things that I’ve been doing to help me fit it all in:

    – I joined stroller workout classes so I could bring my son along! Stroller barre and stroller strides for the win. And of course running with my stroller…
    – I invested in some quality workout pieces for my make shift home gym so I could workout any time without having to arrange child care
    – I shifted the way I think about workouts. Prekids was 1-2 hours of cardio or gym time and long runs…. and now I’m a flat 30 minutes whenever, wherever! 2 hours of walking around at the airport during a layover? Counts! Squats with your teething baby? Yep!

    • Fitnessista on December 18, 2018 at 12:45 am

      love the ideas for stroller strides or any classes that involve the baby or kiddos!
      and totally agree about the home gym. without my limited home gym equipment, it wouldn’t happen and a lot or days

  11. Kristi on December 17, 2018 at 9:53 pm

    This is SO hard! I currently work full time, have a 15 month old and I’m pregnant with number 2. I was finally was on a good routine doing 45 minute workouts on my lunch break (my office has a tiny gym and shower, I keep my 5/10 lb weights in my car), but then first tri fatigue/nausea set in and all I could manage was a few walks throughout the week for the past 6 weeks. I’m finally feeling better and I’m determined to prioritize my workouts again. Lunch breaks and weekends are my best bet. Thanks for keeping it real and being a major source of motivation!

    • Fitnessista on December 18, 2018 at 12:44 am

      ugh morning sickness is a crusher. so happy you’re feeling better now!

  12. Ash on December 17, 2018 at 11:51 pm

    Great post, Gina! The tips were right on point for where I am now – working full-time, mom of a 9 month old. I have found that I need to just put the “chore” to dos on hold and give myself the 30 minutes. When I start to feel guilty, I think about the pep talk I’d give a friend in a similar situation- sounds silly, but it works. I’m also a lot better about getting in the late night lap top sessions, laundry, baby food prep etc with a smile at night when I prioritize my am workout!

    • Fitnessista on December 18, 2018 at 12:44 am

      i totally agree! it’s easier for me to do the chores at night if i got in a workout during the day. it doesn’t work so well the other way around 😉

  13. Jessie R on December 18, 2018 at 9:00 am

    I workout during the day at my work gym, usually in the afternoon. I had a coworker ask once “How do you go everyday?!” I told her that she didn’t want to see me without the gym sessions. They keep me sane 😀 I tell people so often your first point, no one can prioritize you or your time, except you.

  14. Agnieszka Printz on December 18, 2018 at 10:44 am

    Totally agree with this post- I find that the older I get the easier it seems to be to prioritize a workout?! My other motivation is my 2 vizslas… if I don’t get out and exercise them.. then it’s pure chaos all day – I love them to death and the hour or so I spend out running the trails with them is like mediation to me!

  15. Renae L. on December 18, 2018 at 4:51 pm

    I work full time and have an infant at home – the only time I can work out that makes sense for my life is on my lunch break at work. I’m lucky to have a gym in my office building and I’ve timed it so I can get in a 35 minute workout which leaves me enough time to walk to/from gym, quick shower rinse, and change. If I don’t get it in, that’s the only time I probably will. Since becoming busier at work, I’ve found myself slipping and not “having time” to work out. My new plan is to work out every Saturday and Sunday and then try to get in 1 – 3 workouts during the week. Even if I can only get one workout during the work week, I’ll still have 3 workouts which is better than zero.

  16. Annie on December 18, 2018 at 9:44 pm

    Thanks so much for addressing this! I have a three year old and a three month old who will only nap in arms. So right now I am focusing on walking outside and doing 10 minutes of pelvic floor work every night before bed. I am easing into adding 25 minutes of more intensive work outs 3x a week. After everybody has fallen asleep is my only time to myself. So even though I really dislike working out at night that is when it is happening.

  17. Ryane on December 19, 2018 at 9:16 am

    Ha! I was late in filling out the survey and in checking your latest posts – this is exactly what I commented on wanting to read more about.
    Thank you for the great content, as always!! 🙂

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