Being a stay-at-home parent is the toughest and most rewarding job there is. But it is a job all the same. The hours are not 9-5 more like 24/7 and this makes a lot of things tough including exercise. You might wonder why a tracksuit-wearing tyrant personal trainer who drinks too much coffee is talking about being a stay-at-home parent.
Wait for it.
I was one from 2004-to 2009. Being without a Green card or any work visas when I moved to the USA when my wife and I had two kids within the space of 16 months, it was a natural fit.
She went to work, and I stayed home to work. Now being the primary caregiver to a two-week-old and a 16-month-old was far from easy. As my wife had the bare minimum maternity leave, it was up to me to put my hard hat on and suck it up.
What I’m most proud of during this time was I only called her home once when both kids had my licked. But other than that, I handled my business.
During this time, I studied and passed my personal training exam to become a certified personal trainer. So, if I didn’t want to become a fat personal trainer with no clients, I had to find a way to make exercise work.
And this is my story.
How Exercise Makes You a Better Parent
When you’re enviably squeezed for time and with a million reasons to put exercise on the backburner, you need to realize how exercise will make you a better parent. Here are four good reasons to fit exercise into your busy stay-at-home parent schedule.
You set a better example- young children are monkey see monkey do and one of the ways babies learn is picking up cues from their parents. If they see you prioritizing your health this can only help.
To better keep up with your kids- when they get up and go and want to play, it pays to keep up with them. Because kids learn through play, and you will never get the time back to enjoy their childhood.
Taking care of others means taking care of yourself too- when you empty out your tank putting your kids before everything else, it pays to fill it will a little self-care. And exercise in my book exercise is the ultimate self-care act. I get being a parent you need to put others ahead of yourself, but not too far ahead. Because it’s only a matter of time when your lack of self-care comes back to haunt you.
Stress relief- it goes without saying but I’m going to say it anyway. Looking after another human who totally relies on you is stressful. A good way to help with this stress is a little exercise. It helps clear the head and might stop you from doing or saying something you will regret later.
Stay-At-Home Parent Exercise Tips
Now you know why exercise is a great idea when you’re a stay-at-home parent here are a few tips to make it happen.
Enlist help- my spouse knew how important exercise is to me and she gave me the time to do it. Whether it’s family or friends asking someone to care for your kids so you can care for yourself is a no-brainer.
Join a gym that has good childcare- dropping my babies off at the gym’s childcare enviably led to tears and tantrums. Yes, it was tough, but it was necessary to take care of myself. If joining a gym is an option, pick one with good childcare.
Partner up- It’s hard doing it on your own. If it was left up to you, sometimes exercise wouldn’t get done. But exercising with a friend whether at home or elsewhere provides you with a little enjoyment and some accountability.
Buy some equipment for home- having something like adjustable dumbbells or resistance bands allows you to do something particularly when and if the gym isn’t an option. I started out with a two 20-pound adjustable dumbbell set which allowed me to do simple exercises like shoulder presses, squats, biceps, triceps, and rows. It wasn’t perfect, but it was better than nothing.
Exercise Routines For The Busy Stay-At-Home Parent
All movement is a great movement. So, whether it’s playing with your kids, taking them for a walk, or the playground, this is all great. And it all counts. When you have an inkling of time, energy and want to get a sweat on, these time-saving trainings will do the trick.
When time is an issue (and when isn’t it) and you need to get the most out of the time you do have, doing timed sets is great because you will judge your own intensity. If you feel good, you do more, if you don’t you do less.
These 8 rep 8-minute sets can be adjusted up or down depending on how much time or energy you have, For example, 5 minutes- 5 reps or 10 minutes 10 reps. When using resistance with these sets, select a weight that allows you to complete all repetitions with good form.
You can mix and match these to your heart’s content.
Note- These are examples only. You can choose any exercise variation you please.
1A. Dumbbell chest flies– 8 reps
1B. Single arm chest press– 8 reps on each arm
1C. Incline pushups– 8 reps
1A. Dumbbell pullover– 8 reps
1C. Single arm row– 8 reps on each arm
1A. Front plank with shoulder tap– 8 reps on each side
1B. Side plank with hip dip– 8 reps on each side
1C. Reverse crunches – 8 reps
1A. Goblet Side Lunge– 8 reps on each leg
1B. Goblet squats- 8 reps
1C. Single leg hip extensions – 8 reps on each leg
1A. Overhead triceps extensions– 8 reps
1B. Concentration curls – 8 reps on each arm
1C. Triceps pushdowns– 8 reps
1A. Band pull apart- 8 reps
1B. Band shoulder press- 8 reps on each arm
1C. Band In/Outs- 8 reps on each arm (four front raises/four lateral raises)
I’m a huge fan of using your own bodyweight to stay in shape and to help clear stress and frustration, particularly when time is short. There is no real need for any kind of warmup when using your own bodyweight. Taking it easy in the first round as this is enough to get the blood moving to all the right places.
Here are a few examples.
1A. Squat to Reverse Lunge – 5 reverse lunges on each side
1B. Bent over T raise -15 reps
1C. Push-ups -10 reps
Do 3-5 rounds with little rest between exercises and tri-sets or do as many rounds as you can within 10 minutes.
Or if you want to get some cardio but haven’t any time for the gym or you don’t have the equipment, use your own body as a machine with the three exercises below.
Use the following work-rest ratios.
10 seconds work/ 20 seconds rest
15 seconds/15 seconds
20 seconds/10 seconds
30 seconds/30 seconds
Click here for more cardio examples.
Being a stay-at-home parent is a tough but rewarding job. And finding time for exercise for health, vanity, and sanity’s sake will make you a better parent. Now, only if your kid will tell you where he/she hid your keys.
If you’re looking for a routine to help you get back on track click here.