How to move more as a busy mom

15+ tips for moving more as a stay-at-home mama who never has time to herself (YES! It IS possible!)

how do moms find time to work out

Need tips for how to move more as a busy mom? Read on!!

Some days it feels like I barely have time to breathe, let alone exercise.

However, throughout this whole quarantine craziness, I’ve found that just 30 minutes of movement a day makes me feel so much better.

Here are some reasons why YOU should take some time to work out as as a stay-at-home-mama, and HOW you can get MAKE TIME to exercise EVEN as a busy mom!

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exercise tips for busy moms

My favorite things that help me get in movement as a busy mom

Before we talk about WHY working out is important and HOW to get it in, I want to share with you a few of the things I use the MOST that help me get in my workouts as a stay-at-home-mama of a 3 and 18 month old!

These are linked when mentioned, and there are more linked than I have here, but I wanted to share these things FIRST, as they have really helped me prioritize movement in the little kid years (not really, FITNESS, you guys, I’m NO fitness expert… but I do try to move my body every day!).

how to get in more movement as a busy mom

Double Stroller (or single, obviously)

exercising as a busy mom

Apple Watch

how and when to exercise as a busy mama

Resistance Bands

exercising with young toddlers

Adjustable set of weights

getting in exercise as a busy mom

GOOD shoes

how to move more as a busy mom

Leggings that I feel good (and can move well) in

moving more as a SAHM

Good sports bra

Each of these things either motivates me, makes me feel good in my skin, or makes it more convenient for me to work out! Keep reading to find out why! And list your favorite workout gear in the comments!!

Why workout?

There are so many reasons to work out!

Here are a few benefits of exercise that I LOVE:

Confidence

Working out has a HUGE effect on how I feel about myself!

If I feel like I’m taking care of my body, I feel better in my skin!

If I feel better in my skin, then I have more confidence in myself!

Stress-relief

If I’m having a hard day, going on a long walk outside has the ability to relax and renew me, and, BONUS, it does the same thing for my kids!

Exercise makes your body produce more endorphins, which is why you feel better after working out!

Time alone (or “alone”)

If my kids are driving me crazy (or driving one another crazy), I can just throw them in the double stroller (with a hefty snack plate), and off we go.

I ALMOST feel alone. 😉

Bonus if there’s a podcast I want to listen to or a song I NEED to listen to, I can turn it up loud enough to drown out my kids’ whining. (JUST KIDDING, KIND OF!)

However, f you can work it out with your schedule, exercising ACTUALLY alone is the way to go.

Go on a run when your husband gets home.

Drop the kids off at Grandma’s for an hour and get in some time at the gym.

If you can get in BOTH exercise AND alone time, you will come home feeling so much better!

And if you can’t, pop them that double stroller or use that screen time wisely, and feel ALMOST alone!

More Energy

I don’t know about you, but I have so much more energy if I’m regularly moving my body.

It’s physics, or something like that, haha!

“An object in motion stays in motion.”

YOU WILL HAVE MORE ENERGY AND BE MORE PRODUCTIVE IF YOU MOVE MORE!

Realize that you’re not always going to be able to stick to a workout schedule but that doesn’t mean you can’t get in movement as a busy mama!

YoungMomMentor
exercise tips for moms of toddlers

WHERE to work out , WHEN to work out, and WHAT TO DO for a workout?

Should you work out at a gym?

Are morning workouts BEST?

Should you strength train?

Should you work out before you go to bed?

Is running the best workout?

There are MANY answers to those questions, but I have found that:

The best workout is THE ONE YOU WILL DO.

The best place to work out is WHERE YOU FEEL MOST COMFORTABLE.

The best time to work out is WHENEVER YOU CAN!

AND KEEP IN MIND:

Each of these will vary season to season, month to month, and even day to day:

You may work up to running a 5K one year, but drop running in favor of Pilates the next! THAT’S OKAY!

You may LOVE going to the gym in the mornings, but have a newborn and not be able to make morning workouts happen! THAT’S OKAY!

You may LOVE yoga one month, and need to change to taking long walks the next! THAT’S OKAY!

Listen to your body, your family’s schedule, and GIVE YOURSELF GRACE to be flexible!

THERE ARE SO MANY RESOURCES OUT THERE for WHAT to do for exercise, so if you need help, check out Pinterest, or look in the Apple App store for some workout apps! There are so many that are free!

Note: If you are a mom, be sure to consider your pelvic floor health prior to choosing an exercise regime. Talk to your doctor, or check out Becky of Goodfortheswole or Ashley of Getmomstrong for more information! These ladies have taught me so much about my body and they don’t even know it!

easy ways to exercise as a busy mom

Tips for how to move more as a busy mom

Now that we know WHY to exercise and WHAT we COULD do, let’s get into the tips for how to move your body more as a busy mama!

We’ve got this, mamas!

1) Plan your workouts

You’ve heard this before, but it’s SO incredibly helpful: write your workouts on your calendar like they’re appointments.Do this at the beginning of every month (or week; depending on how you plan).

I have a dry-erase calendar on the side of my fridge- a BRILLIANT idea I copied from my friend Brie years ago– and at the beginning of every month I write in things we have planned (let’s be honest, it’s not a lot right now due to life stage and the current world situation: my husband’s work schedule, any doctor appts, or play dates we have already scheduled).

The next thing you do is write in when you will work out. Talk to your husband about your schedules and when it makes sense for you to exercise.

If he also wants to exercise, schedule his in as well.

If you’re working out at home, you can even workout together (maybe doing a video, or block off an hour of time to alternate who is working out (we have picked nights to run/walk, for instance after the kids go to bed. I’ll leave and be gone for 30 and when I come back, he will go).

This feels like you’re filling up your calendar; but 30 minutes isn’t a lot of time, and it’s totally worth it to reap the benefits that come with exercise!

movement tips for mamas

2) Get an accountability partner or workout buddy (BONUS if your kids are around the same age!)

No one likes to feel alone; life is better in community.

Chances are, you have a friend who is having the same workout struggles you are: ask around and you’re sure to find a workout buddy or accountability partner in your friend group, or maybe even in your family!

It doesn’t matter who it is: pick someone who will encourage you to stick to your goals when you’re over it!

Get a coffee or have a play date to discuss your goals and how you want to proceed! Make a plan, and encourage one another in it!

You don’t have to work out together, but you can! The possibilities are endless!

3) Buy cute/comfy workout clothes

I feel like this is SUCH an important motivator for women, however shallow that may be! haha!

If I FEEL GOOD in my exercise clothes, I’m much more likely to put them on, and much more likely to ACTUALLY work out.

Buy some good quality workout clothes that you can move in and feel great in and see if you aren’t more motivated to move!

My sister RAVES about THESE leggings!

I LOVE the activewear line from Old Navy, and Aerie leggings are AWESOME!

You might have to look a little, but once you find workout clothes you feel good in, you won’t want to go back!

4) Invest in good-quality shoes

Good shoes are a MUST for every aspect of life.

This is one thing my grandmother said you could never be cheap about!

The quality of your shoes affects how your body feels when you work out.

THESE are my favorite shoes! I’ve also had these, and these.

It might take some time to figure out your favorite shoes (and this also might change over time), but I PROMISE this will CHANGE how your body feels while working out- AND how it feels afterward!

And remember: the shoes you choose should be based on your feet and the activity you’re doing.

AND, you can’t buy shoes today and expect them to last for 5 years. I KNOW, I’m cheap, too, but your health is an important investment!

getting in more movement as a mom

5) Add a walk into your daily routine with your kids

This is one of my favorite and most helpful tips!

I LOVE walking! And, luckily, we have an awesome walking trail right by our house!

When it’s warm, I love to take the kids on walks in the morning when it’s coolest. And when it’s cold, I like to take them on walks in the afternoon, when it’s the warmest!

There plenty of days in between where the weather doesn’t cooperate (too hot, too cool, too windy, or really rainy), but at the beginning of the week, I like to look at week’s forecast and see which days it might be a possibility to walk, and plan our schedule accordingly.

6) Occupy your children while you work out

Y’all, my husband and I just tried this yesterday and it FAILED MISERABLY, but such is life with kids. haha! Some things will work one day and not the next!

Here are a few ways to occupy your kids while you work out:

  • Give them a new, engaging activity: a new book, a sensory bin, new stickers, whatever you think they would LOVE, but haven’t seen yet!
  • Make them an awesome snack, sit them at the table, in the stroller, or in the pack-n-play
  • Put on their favorite show (This is extra helpful if you don’t do much screen time and use it strategically to HELP you!)

You are probably going to have to use all of the above, or at least a combination of the above, to get in a 30 minute workout… BUT the great thing about staying home is the flexibility you have!

And remember, you don’t have to do it all at once! You can do it in 5 or 10 minute spurts throughout the day!

Choose 3 activities your kids can do relatively independently, tell your kids what to expect (mommy is going to exercise while you do this), and then TRY your best to get it done!

If you are consistent, your kids will get used to you exercising in front of them and know what to expect!

7) Involve your children in your workouts

If your kids are around 3 or older, they might want to work out with you!

Choose an easy yoga video (or even Cosmic Kids on YouTube, like seen above) and see if they can follow along!

Work up to harder videos, and maybe even let them choose some to do!

Other ways to workout as family include:

  • Go on long walks as a family after dinner
  • Ride bikes or scooters together (we love THIS toddler bike- we walk while he rides)
  • Teach your family how to play your favorite sport (basketball, soccer, baseball, tennis… whatever!)
  • Play a game like freeze tag or do relay races

There are so many ways to work out with your family, or even just get in a few extra steps! Be creative and try some!

8) Do as much as you can, whenever you can!

Schedules are good and helpful, but they’re not always possible to stick to because of life! So YES, TRY TO PLAN your workouts, but HOLD YOUR PLANS LOOSELY!

Realize that you’re not always going to be able to stick to a workout schedule but that doesn’t mean you can’t get in movement as a busy mama!

Here are some ways to get in an extra few minutes of movement a day:

  • Do jumping jacks in your living room and 10 squats every time you go to the restroom
  • Take your kids on a walk after nap time
  • Do laps outside of the strip mall (and then hit up the Old Navy, of course!)
  • Take your kids to play at a friend’s house, and while they’re occupied, get in a quick 10 minute workout
  • Do a few stretches or push ups right when you wake up, or while waiting for your coffee to brew

9) Work out before everyone wakes up or after everyone goes to bed

It’s HARD to try to get in exercise when my kids are awake.

They seem to recognize that mama wants to get something done (besides the usual momming), and they are EXTRA difficult.

Sometimes it’s just easier to workout before they get up, or after they go to bed.

Right now, my husband and I are in that season.

He leaves for work before 5am, so we can’t workout then, so instead we pop in a workout video after the kids are in bed.

I’ll admit, it isn’t ideal to workout at night, but it’s when we have the time, so we are doing it!

Be committed, flexible, and work with the time you have!

making time to work out as a mom

10) Purchase a program, gym membership, or a piece of gym equipment

If you hate to waste money, this one might be a good motivator for you!

Pay for a program, gym membership, or a piece of gym equipment!

Spending money on something might be the push you need to be committed to exercising!

Here are some options of things you could purchase, ranging in expense:

Spend what you can/think you need to to be motivated, but KNOW THYSELF! I could have all of those things and not workout because money isn’t super motivating to me! KNOW YOURSELF!

11) Take advantage of gym childcare

Is time alone a motivating factor for you?

You’re in luck!

Some gyms have free or paid childcare.

You can both workout AND have someone else watch your kids for an hour!

Before joining a gym, checkout their childcare situation according to what you think you would use!

*Note* With the pandemic, the childcare situation at gyms is hit or miss, so this might be something you do after Covid has passed.

making time to workout as a mama

12) Get a fitness tracker or smart watch

Fitness trackers can be SUPER motivating!

I got an Apple Watch last May and I have LOVED it!

You can set a daily “Move” goal (amount of active calories you aim to burn every day), and there are standard “Exercise” and “Stand” goals (30 minutes a day of exercise, and standing up a minimum of 1 minute per hour for 12 hours).

It’s SO motivating to “close my rings” every day!

Here are some options for fitness trackers:

exercising as a SAHM

13) Get creative with childcare

Finding time to exercise is tough, especially with multiple kids.

Sometimes it’s just easier to work out alone, and sometimes that’s what you need.

However, it’s hard to find good childcare (ESPECIALLY right now).

Depending on your comfort level, there are still options for safe and affordable childcare.

Here are some creative ways to find childcare for your kids while you work out:

  • Alternate childcare with friends: watch your friend’s kids while they work out, and vice versa!
  • Pay a college student or high-schooler you trust: Have a niece, cousin, or child of a friend that lives close-by? Pay them to come over right after school for an hour while you work out!
  • Get a family member to come once a week: You probably have family members close by who would LOVE some time with your kiddos! Ask them to come by once a week so you can go to that Zumba class! Treat them to dinner as a “thank you”!

I bet there are a million other ways you can think of to get in some creative childcare throughout the week! Even if you just use one of those ways every week or every other week, those minutes add up!

14) Don’t be afraid to try something new!

If you find yourself dreading exercise, CHANGE IT UP!

And even during any given week, ALLOW YOURSELF to do different things on different days depending on how your body is feeling!

Here are a few ideas for how you can change it up when trying to exercise more as a mama:

The possibilities are as endless as personalities!

Try different things! Don’t get stuck in an exercise rut!

15) Focus on your “why” when figuring out how to move more as a busy mom

WHY are you exercising?

What is your motivation to keep moving?

Mine is my kids. I move my body because I want to be able to play with my kids, and I want to be around for them as long as I can (I’m not in charge of when I die, the Lord is, but he has commanded me to treat my body as a temple. I struggle with this, but a little progress every day adds up to a lot!).

Figure out your “why”, and tape it somewhere you will see it!

Here are a few motivations for exercise:

  • combating genetic health issues (like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure)
  • reaching a specific goal (weight loss, run a 5K)
  • not being out of breath while playing with your kids
  • feeling more confident in your body
  • being STRONG

Once again, there are as many “why’s” as there are people, but finding yours and constantly circling back to it will help keep you motivated!

working out as a mom

16) Give yourself grace

GIVE YOURSELF GRACE!

You will skip days, weeks, months, maybe even years of exercising!

Your goal is PROGRESS, not PERFECTION!

Give yourself grace on the hard days. Grace to fail, grace to get right back up and try again the next day.

Look to Christ. You are not enough, but He is.

how to move more as a SAHM

Final thoughts on how to move more as a busy mom with toddlers

I hope those tips gave you some ideas for how to get in more movement as a busy mama!

Let me know what you do to fit exercise into your life, and what type of movement you like best!

Thanks for reading!

Lots of love,

Related “Movement for Mamas” Articles

15+ tips for how to move more as a busy mom who never has time to herself (YES! It IS possible!)

exercise tips for moms of toddlers
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Hey, it's Anna! I'm a teacher-turned-SAHM of two young kids. I love to research all things parenting and kid-related and share them on here.

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