Summer vacation is approaching for many of us, and what that also means for many of us is the kids are home all day and our school year routines are thrown off.
While it’s nice to have lazier and more relaxed mornings and a break from the stress of packing lunches, helping with homework, shuttling your kids all over town and managing all the other demands that come with the school year schedule, having a more relaxed schedule can paradoxically be equally as stressful less of a routine as well as the kids home with you all day. Because finding time for yourself in the summer can be real a challenge. And one of the first things that often gets thrown by the wayside is exercise.
But exercise is one of the most effective ways you can manage stress!
It’s a catch 22!
So what can you do to preserve that workout time over the summer?
Here are 15 strategies:
1. Have a family meeting.
Make sure your family is aware that exercising every day (or most days) is important to you. Older children are certainly capable of understanding this. This is also a good chance for every member of the family to share the things they’d like to do over vacation (so it’s not just a meeting about what Mom wants to do).
2. Work out before the kids wake up.
I keep the same sleep schedule year round. For me there is nothing worse than waking up to a kid’s face two inches away from mine saying, “MOMMY, I’M HUNGRY,” repeatedly until I get up out of bed.
I like time for myself before the kids begin their assault in the morning. And getting a workout in before everyone is awake helps me relieve some stress before the day even begins, it helps wake me up, and I feel accomplished straight out of the gate.
3. Make a list of things your kids can do while you exercise.
If you have kids who are six years old and older, they are capable of entertaining/occupying themselves for at least a half an hour at a stretch.
Sit down with them and have them make a list of all the things they can do while you are working out. It is important to let the kids generate the ideas for the list. Post the list somewhere in the house where everyone has access to it. You could even do this at your family meeting.
Then when you are ready to workout, if the kids are in need of some direction, they can refer to the list they made and choose something from it to occupy themselves.
4. Limit technology time.
Rather than allowing your children to watch TV or use their devices whenever they want, limit their access (or a portion of it) only to time when you are working out . This will occupy them and can also help motivate you to get a workout in.
If waking up early is not an option for you, this will be especially helpful.
5. Have the kids join you!
My kids always ask to do workouts with me if I’m doing any kind of video at home. They have done many P90X and yoga workouts with me.
They usually start out by telling me how easy they are, last for about 5 minutes, and then sit on the couch and watch me while I finish. But allowing them to participate usually ensures that I can get a workout in.
You can find kind of other kinds of exercise the kids can do with you, like hiking.
I like to swim, and sometimes I’ll take the kids with me. They can swim for fun in the open swim section of the pool and use the diving board while I swim in the lap lanes.
If you like to run, the kids can either run with you or they can ride bikes while you run.
Three years ago I ran the Mother’s Day 5K with Number 4 . She kicked my ass.
This year 4 of the kids ran it with me. All four of them kicked my ass.
Your kids may not slow you down when you work out. They may give you something to strive for!
6. Find a playground that has a track or exercise equipment for parents built into it.
The playground at the pool where my kids swim has a track around its perimeter which is perfect for walking while your kids play on the equipment.Many playgrounds have workout stations or equipment for adults incorporated into them.
Use that stuff!
7. Join a gym that has free (or affordable) babysitting.
AND USE IT.
Gyms with babysitting are great because obviously you have someone to watch your kids. But they are great for other reasons.
First, having a place to take your kids to break up the monotony that can accompany days in the summer is nice. Second, gyms are air conditioned so you can exercise even when it’s super hot. If it’s 95° outside and too hot for you to go for a walk or run, you can use the treadmill inside in the cooler air.
8. Make plans to exercise with a friend.
Having a workout buddy helps keep you accountable. You are much less likely to blow off a workout when you have a friend who is counting on you to show up.
Statistics show you are more likely to stick with something when you have invested some money in it. An online course or program will give you direction and motivation and can provide you with support and help keep you accountable.
In the Tribe, I help you figure out what works best for you and your family and together we find the areas of your life (and mind) that are preventing you from taking care of yourself.
10. Register for a class or join a team or a league.
Same concept as #9. When you invest money in something you are more likely to stick with it to get your money’s worth. Joining something like a masters swim team will also give you a group of people to swim with — sometimes being a part of a group is helpful for people. Or maybe you try something new like TaeKwonDo where you pay for a certain number of classes. Joining a basketball league can be helpful because your team will be counting on you to show up making it harder for you to blow it off. Playing in a tennis league forces you to show up for games, and when you have to show up for games, you are also more likely to practice.
11. Register for a 5K race or a mudrun.
When you have something to train for, that is a big motivator to stay on track with your workouts!
And your kids can do these with you too!
Five years ago I did a mud run with my dad and 4 of the kids.
The mud run was a great way to be active as a family, and it helped the kids understand why exercise is important to me.
12. Invest in a decent jogging stroller.
If your kids are younger, throw them in the stroller and take them with you. I took my kids for runs with me until they were in kindergarten!
You can take them outside on a walk or a run. You can take them to the mall and walk there. There are also stroller workout groups you can join all across the country. Click here to see if there is one near you.
13. Arrange a co-op with some friends where you alternate watching each other’s kids.
Get two of your friends on board and arrange times three days a week where each of you watches all the kids. On your “off’ days, you can get your workouts in.
14. Commit to only watching TV when you are exercising.
This is a big one for me, and it can be a good motivator for you to workout before the kids get up or after they go to bed if that’s what you prefer. Or just to stay on track with working out in general.
I have a rule that I don’t turn on the TV or use the iPad during the day to watch anything unless I am exercising.
(I use this rule for washing dishes and folding laundry, too. But I’d much rather exercise than wash dishes or fold laundry).
This way I don’t blow the better part of a day sucked into a Netflix binge watch.
I have an elliptical machine at home, and this is when I catch up on shows. But if you like to watch TV and you commit to this, you will find a way to continue exercising during the summer.
15. Join a fundraising organization and train for something you’ve never done before.
This is a great way to kill a few birds with one stone.
I’ve participated in triathlons and run marathons for Team in Training, Swim Across America and Dana Farber Cancer Center, and I raised money for all three causes by training for these events.
Team in Training provides you with a coach and a plan to help you train for different endurance events, and you receive support and guidance. This is great for beginners who want to challenge themselves or try something new.
In exchange for the coaching you receive through Team in Training, you are obligated to raise a certain amount of money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
My first triathlon was done through Team in Training.
So was my second.
And my third.
Those suckers kept me moving all summer long!
By signing up for events through these organizations you are not only contributing to a great cause, but you are committing to something and that kind of forces you to find ways to exercise whether your kids are home or not.
And in the process, there is a chance you will find something you really enjoy doing.
So there you have it. 15 strategies you can employ to help you stay on track with working out, especially when your kids are home for the summer.
I’ve used just about all of them, and they have all definitely worked for me!