5 Sensible Ways to Balance Parenthood and Fitness

If you’re a mom (or a dad) then you probably feel like you need ten arms, twelve more hours in a day, and the laundry to magically wash and fold itself.  And don’t get me started on trying to keep the house clean… it just doesn’t happen.  With everything thrown at you in a day, it’s hard to focus on your health and wellness while trying to meet all of the demands of your family.  For so many moms, and dads (ask my husband), eating healthy and working out regularly is a struggle. But with some simple steps all moms can more easily work healthy living into their every day life.

As a former college athlete, regular workouts keep me feeling sharp and ready to face the day. For several years I worked in different areas of healthcare, traveling hospital to hospital all day long, to conducting clinical trials with 12 hour shifts. I tried to keep fitness a part of my life, but my schedule was always changing and I couldn’t consistently get my workouts in the way I wanted. I was rushed for time and wasn’t what anyone would call a gourmet chef in the kitchen.

Two years ago, my husband and I bought a tennis club and I left my career to help run the club and suddenly found myself surrounded by health and fitness all day long. But, I soon found myself in the same situation, having limited time to focus on my own wellness. Between the business, trekking our four kids all over the place for activities, homework, and trying to enjoy a minute on the couch from time to time, I realized I needed an action plan! I decided to go “all-in” on a healthy lifestyle and find creative ways to mix my love of fitness, a new found love of paleo cooking, and my desire to help other people, especially moms, create a healthy lifestyle for themselves and their families. For me, this is the ultimate gift I can give to my family.

Here are a few tips that help me easily manage the week in a healthy way:

1. Make a Schedule & Have a Plan

Did you think that routines were only for kids and schedules were just for work?  Think again!!  I would be lost without a routine and my weekly planner.  If I don’t write things down then I’m certainly not going to remember what you just said five seconds ago.  Every Sunday I take about twenty to thirty minutes to write out my schedule for the week.  Is my schedule set in stone?  NOPE!  Client’s cancel or have to reschedule, my kid’s have doctor’s appointments at the last minute, practice gets rained out (yay!), or something happens at the tennis club (always).  But that’s why it’s so important to make a schedule.  You can pencil things in when they come up and you can figure out when you can make time for yourself.  Personally, the easiest block of time that I have to work out is first thing in the morning at 6:00AM.  It wakes me up by making me feel energized, helps me get my day started, and keeps me sane!  But I’m a morning person and you may not be and that’s okay.  Maybe it’s over lunch, or maybe it’s in the evening when the kids go down for bed. Whatever works for you is perfect! The purpose is to make sure you take the time to Schedule Time With Yourself.  Look at it this way: your one hour block of time in your twenty-four hour day is an important meeting with yourself.

2. Meal Planning is Key

This by far has been the biggest time saver for me.  Along with taking twenty to thirty minutes every Sunday to schedule my week, I also plan my meals for the week.  This is helpful for multiple reasons: 1) You aren’t scrambling around trying to figure out what to make for dinner every night 2) You won’t “overbuy” at the grocery store  3) You can prep for meals in advance if you know what you’re making every day 4) You can plan your meals around your schedule for the week.

Number 4 is a big one for me.  For instance, I plan each dinner around what I have going on during the evenings.  If I know I’m going to be at my kid’s sporting events until late evening then that’s when I utilize my handy dandy crock pot or InstaPot.  Two is also a good one because what most people do not take advantage of is online grocery shopping.  Online shopping cuts down on the time you would spend at the grocery store standing in line and also cuts down your grocery costs because you’re not walking through every single isle just throwing in extra stuff that you don’t actually need to buy.  This is a time saver and money saver if you have a huge family like mine because trust me, going out to eat is not budget friendly for a family of six!

3. Take Advantage of Technology and the Internet

There are tons of websites, meal planning apps, and workout videos on social media that give you free workouts and free recipes!  Take advantage of that!  I took advantage of every single thing out there when I was getting started and sometimes I still do if I need a little motivation.  Follow some personal trainers on Instagram (you can find me @court_spike), start researching some healthier meal planning alternatives or follow food bloggers on social media.  There are also tons of great apps for keeping food diaries, logging your calories, and even some that give you daily workouts based on the equipment you have in your home.  Also, I hear there is this new healthy living platform called SweatNet that connects you to fitness studios, businesses, and activities in the Charlotte area (hint, hint).  And if you don’t know of any bloggers to follow for healthy recipes, workouts, and all things family then keep checking for when my blog is “live” (wink, wink).

4. There is no “one size fits all”

The key is to find YOUR routine and what works seamlessly for YOU. What works for your best friend might not be the best fit for you.  People often stress themselves out trying to copy someone else’s routine and it just doesn’t work and they can’t stick to it.  No one life is the same and no one’s day is going to be the exact same every single day.  If it is, you’re lucky and I’m jealous! Everyone has their own way of doing things and keeping track of their day.  Some things work, a lot of things don’t, but you can only figure out what works for YOU by trying new things and creating good habits.

Don’t be afraid to sign up for a fitness class just because you think you’re not “fit enough” or a yoga class because you’re not “flexible enough”.  Everyone starts somewhere and no one is there to judge you. You only get better by trying and being open to gradual improvement. Trying new workouts, new healthy recipes, and finding time to sneak in a new healthy activity are all key to creating new positive habits. Maybe you don’t have time during the week to attend a fitness class.  Sometimes that’s life, and that’s okay, it happens to everyone. That is the perfect time to utilize your own bodyweight and wake up thirty minutes earlier to sweat. Something as simple as a few bodyweight moves while that meatloaf is baking in the oven for an hour is perfect!

5. Hold Yourself Accountable 

Accountability.  You know, that ‘A’ word that you try to teach your children.  It all starts with you.  Lead by example and I bet your kiddos will follow… and if they don’t they will certainly help call you out the same way you call them out!  If you feel like you need someone else to help you stay on the path and keep you motivated, then get a workout buddy or hire a personal trainer to hold you accountable (wink, wink).  Accountability is the key to a successful workout regimen or to any daily routine for that matter.  It’s what leads you to develop self-discipline and certainly a healthy lifestyle.

As parents we are so consumed with our kid’s schedules and our work schedules that we push aside actually taking the time to take care for ourselves.  Yes, your kids, your job, and your spouse are very important, but so are you and your health!  Don’t push it aside.  You can make health and wellness a lifestyle for your entire family.  Start now!

Photograph by Tyler Elizabeth White Photography.