Busy parents who find it hard to exercise can sometimes take advantage of their children’s sports activities to work out at the same time and place.
There’s just not enough time in the day. Between work, cooking, cleaning, ferrying the kids around and generally keeping the household running, your schedule just doesn’t seem to have any extra room for exercise.
One trick some parents use is to take advantage of their children’s sports activities to get in a workout of their own. So, instead of dropping your kids off and picking them up again at the end of the activity, you find something you can do there at the same time. This minimizes driving as well as giving you a solid chunk of time at a location you’re already committed to going to.
Have your children signed up for swimming lessons? Take a water aerobics class or do a lap swim session at the same time. Do you drive your kids to football practice? Go for a run instead of standing on the touchline, or recruit some other parents and organize a game of Ultimate. Tennis lessons? Find a partner and play yourself. Dance class or gymnastics? Hit the gym.
If your children are still exploring different sports and deciding what they’re interested in, keep this tactic in mind as you weigh up the various options. If your daughter wants to try martial arts, for example, look for a class that’s offered at a gym where you could work out at the same time.
Also, when all other factors are equal, give preference to activities that are closest to home. For example, if your son is choosing between swimming lessons at a pool that’s 10 minutes away and golf lessons at a course that’s 40 minutes away, don’t feel guilty about steering him toward the convenient option first. Unless your child is supremely talented or particularly passionate about a given sport, it probably doesn’t make sense to spend a lot of time in the car at the early stages. If the sport also involves weekend travel, talk to the parents of other children in the program and arrange a carpooling schedule.
Improving your organization can reduce stress and create some extra breathing room in your schedule as well, because if you make sure everything has a home and put things away religiously, you won’t have to waste time looking for lost or misplaced clothing and equipment. Get a dedicated bag for each person and each sport (like Arena’s Fast Roll for swimming, for example), so everything is easy to find. Pack bags the night before, especially if you have to leave early in the morning for a weekend match, and prepare healthy snacks and drinks ahead of time too.
Finally, if exercising during your child’s after-school or evening sports activity means you’ll miss out on being able to rush home to fix dinner during that time, consider using a slow cooker to do the work while you’re out, or just pick up healthy takeout on your way home.
Being a parent is undeniably time-consuming, but don’t let your kids’ activities get in the way of your own health and well-being. Making a few changes to your schedule to squeeze in some exercise will pay off over the long term.
Do you have any other tips to share with time-starved parents looking to fit in a workout?