It’s no secret that developing a sustainable workout schedule can be quite a challenge for a busy mom.
Taking care of kids, working, running a household, putting out fires – figurative or literal – takes lots of effort and time.
Add to this the fact that there are only 24 hours in a day, and we’re often left wondering where to find time to sit on the couch for more than five minutes – let alone get half an hour for a decent workout.
(This post has been sponsored by adidas. All opinions are 100% my own.)
I’ve always stuffed my day-to-day schedule to the brim, but ever since my daughter was born almost two years ago, I often feel like I hardly get a chance to catch my breath between all of my daily to-do’s.
Yet I knew from the early days of becoming a mom that I was going to find time to exercise, no matter how hard it was going to be. It took me about 3 months to figure out my postpartum fitness routine and start working out regularly.
A year into parenthood, I summed up my experience of working out after having a baby here on the blog. Now that another year has almost passed and a lot of things have changed, I feel like another entry is needed in my diary of a fit mommy.
My Busy Mom Workout Schedule: How I’m Making It Work
As a busy mom, I needed to figure out a workout schedule that I could sustain long-term.
In my search of workout tips for busy moms, I browsed through various fitness mom blogs. Most ideas for workouts for moms with toddlers were targeted towards either full-time working moms or stay-at-home moms, but my situation was a combination of both and thus more complicated.
Challenges I Was Working Around
– I was at home with a toddler who wanted to have all attention focused on herself – that meant, forget about ever finishing that set of reps;
– Short days and long nights during the cold time of the year – I didn’t feel comfortable going for a run when it was dark outside, yet that’s the only time my husband was home from work, and able to watch baby J;
– I didn’t have an opportunity to go to the gym – my local gym doesn’t have childcare, and I didn’t have any friends or relatives willing to watch baby J while I was at the gym;
– My baby-free time also happened to be the time I worked or did whatever needed to be done around the house. Devoting an hour of that time to exercise meant taking longer to finish my projects, making less money, and/or having a messier house.
– I had a less than optimal sleep schedule – I was still breastfeeding baby J and getting up once or twice during the night to nurse her. That often left me too tired to work out in the morning.
I was trying to come up with an exercise schedule of lifting weights and running 3-4 times a week. Each workout session needed to be fairly short (ideally, letting me exercise and take a shower afterwards all within an hour). Also, my busy mom workout schedule needed to be sustainable – I didn’t want to burn out within a few weeks.
In addition to this, I wanted to make sure I enjoyed doing my workouts. After all, life is too short to engage in activities we dread.
How I Got There
When baby J turned one, she started going to daycare two mornings a week. I used those hours to go back to work at my old job (I also did that job from home for a year before baby J started daycare – don’t get me started on how complicated that often was!).
Baby J’s daycare days were on Mondays and Thursdays. That allowed me to do my workouts on Tuesdays and Fridays around 8:30 am. At that time, waking up to work out earlier was out of the question because I was still getting up once or twice a night to breastfeed.
My exhaustion from little sleep and otherwise busy days kept me from making any kind of big fitness plans. Those two workouts a week were just enough to let me consider myself a “fitness mom”.
I didn’t care much for running either, especially when the winter arrived. Even though cold weather isn’t much of a deterrent for outdoor running here in the Northwestern Washington state (our temperatures rarely go past freezing), short days and long nights meant that running in the evening after my husband got back home from work was out of the question.
After New Year’s baby J’s daycare expanded to three mornings a week. Now I dropped her off on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays, and headed to the office until noon. Then I picked her up, brought her home, gave her a snack, put her down for a nap, and sat down to work again.
I was still able to do exercise on Tuesdays, but Fridays now were out – unless I wanted to wake up way before the crack of dawn to get my workout in.
Yes, I knew that a lot of busy moms work out that early. But since I already hated waking up at 5:50 am on my work days (after having gotten up once or twice to nurse baby J during the night), I was in no hurry to start doing that myself.
For a little while, I was doing my Friday workouts when baby J and I got home after daycare/work, and she went down for a nap. But that meant that I had one less afternoon to get any work done. Unless I wanted to stay up and work in the evenings after baby J’s bedtime, I didn’t want to sacrifice my Friday afternoons.
By mid-April the days got longer, the weather was nicer, and I started thinking about running again. At first it seemed impossible – where the heck was I going to get even more time and energy?
Thankfully, there was one major change. Baby J finally stopped breastfeeding (I summed it all up in my post about our vegan breastfeeding experience). Within a couple days, she started sleeping through the night.
I finally started getting my sleep too – yay! That alone improved my energy levels, and made me want to exercise more.
I wanted to continue doing my at-home mommy exercises twice a week because I enjoyed them, and run at least twice a week because I wanted to improve in my running.
To make things realistic, I knew that these four exercise sessions would have to be fairly short, or otherwise I’d crash and burn in no time.
Also, with three days of working in the office every week, I finally had to embrace waking up earlier, even before work, if I wanted to get my fitness in.
After some planning and shuffling days around, I finally developed my workout schedule that now works for me as a busy mom.
My Mom Workout Plan
- Monday – waking up at 4:55 am to work out; going to work
- Tuesday – off from fitness and work
- Wednesday – waking up at 6:10 am to run; off from work
- Thursday – waking up at 4:55 am to work out; going to work
- Friday – off from fitness; going to work
- Saturday – waking up at 6:15 – 6:30 am to run; off from work
- Sunday – off from fitness and work
Most of my workouts last about 40 minutes, with 10 minutes warmup/cooldown, and 4 rounds of exercises with dumbbells, a kettlebell, or my bodyweight (here’s what my home gym setup looks like).
Most of my runs are between 2 and 3 miles. I feel like I could go longer, but I rarely have a lot of time for extra distance because I have to be back home and shower before my husband leaves for work.
My current challenge is to start going to bed earlier. A few nights a week I stay up to work after baby J goes down to sleep, and too often those nights happen before my early wake-ups.
So on busier weeks when I have too much going on or stay up working late, I follow a simplified version of this schedule: working out on Mondays and Fridays before work, and running on Wednesdays. This means that I skip my Saturday morning run, but at least I get to sleep in a little longer, which feels so nice after a busy weeks.
I don’t know if it will ever be possible for me to get a full eight hours of sleep a night, but anything over six and a half hours is my goal now – even if it means that I’ll have to work less.
I’ve been following my workout schedule for about 3 months now, and I’ve noticed an improvement in my endurance, strength and energy as I’m chasing after my very active toddler every day. Of course, I feel much better if I’m also getting enough sleep – otherwise gallons of coffee have to come to the rescue 🙂
Another bonus – my anxiety has gone down quite a bit. I can’t say for sure what helped most (regular exercise, getting more sleep, or my hormones finally leveling off after I quit breastfeeding), but I’m definitely enjoying it.
So hopefully my experience of building my busy mom workout schedule helps you in finding your own opportunity to stay active!
Thank you adidas for sponsoring this post! As always, all opinions are my own.
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