As parents, we do our best work in silence — leading by example. Sometimes that’s not such a good thing, like when we struggle to live by the very priorities we hope to instill in our children. We’re determined to get the kids to swim lessons or soccer on time, but scheduling our own time for fitness can be quite another matter.
Despite knowing that our children benefit from parents who commit to a fit lifestyle, we don’t always hold ourselves accountable to regular exercise. Topping the list of most moms’ barriers to fitness: a lack of time. We could all use an extra hour in the day, but a shortage of time isn’t always a valid reason to skip a workout. Learning how to distinguish reasons from excuses is the first step in keeping yourself accountable to any of life’s priorities — particularly fitness.
no excuse is a good excuse
Let’s get one thing straight: skipping a workout isn’t always a bad thing. There are a number of priorities in life that hold equal importance to health and fitness, and sometimes tending to those priorities requires that we make the decision to forgo exercise. When we make decisions like these, decisions that move us in the direction of our priorities, we are usually dealing with reasons … not excuses.
Reasons are real, hold weight, and have substance. Reasons are helpful and actually make us feel better for having not worked out. Like when you’re on the phone offering support to a friend during that hour you planned to run, or when a simple case of childhood malaise turns into fever. Assuming friendship and parenting are two other top priorities in your life, indeed you are better off skipping your workout.
Excuses, on the other hand, usually stand between our priorities and us. They leave us feeling guilty and second-guessing our decision to skip the sweat. They attempt to justify our decision to neglect our priorities. We throw excuses around when we feel like we need to defend our course of action. Excuses are the lies we tell ourselves so we feel okay about our decision to slack off.
If you’ve made up your mind that you’re going to forgo exercise and you’re not looking over your shoulder or fretting your decision, you’ve likely made a smart choice, stayed in the realm of reasons. On the other hand, if you feel something gnawing inside you after opting out of a workout, if you can’t shake the guilt, odds are you’ve made an excuse. Listen and trust your intuition. When you feel yourself moving toward excuses, think again.
Fitness Time Tricks for Busy Moms
Looking for some extra time to swing a workout?
Here are few time tricks to add to your existing repertoire of excuse-busting tactics. They won’t give you that 25th hour in your day, but they will help you become more efficient with the 24 hours you do have.
make yourself at home
Since the time it takes to commute to and from an athletic club cuts your workout, consider fitness activities you can do from home. Plot routes you can run or bike that start right outside your door, tune into FitTV, or purchase at-home exercise machines or DVDs that you can do whenever you have some time to spare.
give some to get some
Devote solid chunks of at least 20 minutes to hard cold child’s play. In other words, when you play with your kids give them 100% of your attention. No surfing the internet or checking email while you play. This is the time for full Barbie dialog and Lego building mode. Spending this uninterrupted quality time usually provides a good “Mommy fix,” freeing up a later opportunity to workout later. And the bonus is you’ll feel more engaged with your children.
be over prepared
Before donating all of those old toys to charity, consider filling a backpack or two with small toys and books. Stash them in the car, baby jogger, or anywhere else that might help you sneak in a quick workout. These items act as life preservers for fit living, entertaining the kids while you make an impromptu stop at the track, basketball court, or playground to workout. Be at the ready yourself, too. Stash an old gym bag packed with workout supplies in the trunk of your car just in case you find that bonus hour during your day to hit the gym or head out for a quick run.