Some key pieces of advice in written for working Mums are to “prioritise yourself” and “make time to exercise”. The concept is really good. You should look after yourself, and having a fitness plan and exercising is a great way to do this. No one wants to be a walking zombie as you go to work and care for your kids.
However, most articles fall short in giving practical solutions for HOW you fit in exercise. I’ve tried lots of different approaches over the years, many which haven’t worked for me. However, I have found 1 absolute gem that works for me so that I do keep relatively fit despite having an intense job and raising 2 kids.
Here’s the 1 fitness plan tip that has enabled me to fit exercise into my schedule
My best solution that I’ve worked out after lots of trial and error is to commit to a minimum of 10 minutes “me time” that makes me fitter / stronger / more relaxed every day. The key is it’s EVERY DAY. And a minimum of 10 minutes. I don’t try and be overly ambitious and say it will be 30 minutes a day.
A few years ago I tried committing to 4 times a week for 30 minutes. However, I found that I spent more time negotiating with myself whether “today was an exercise day”. I would often find that I had run out of days in the week to get 4 exercise times in. The other problem was that on many days the thought of committing to 30 minutes of exercise was simply too much. This was particularly tricky if I was remembering about my pact with myself at 11pm. It was too hard then and I’d skip it.
So I’ve worked out that for me it’s every day and minimum of 10 minutes. I’ve been doing this for 3 years now and am struggling to remember a day when I didn’t do it. It’s now just part of what a day entails for me.
So what does this look like for me?
- I try and run 3-4 times a week. Running has always been a passion of mine so this is my happy time. I’m not good at getting up super early to run. I’ve tried several times to get in the habit, but the snooze button wins most times. However, I’m ok to run after I put the kids in bed 1-2 nights during the work week and then during the day on the weekend and often on a Friday while the kids are at school (this is my day out of the office)
- “Use it or lose it time”. My husband likes running too. When the kids were little we had a “use it or lose it” pact. We had set times during the week where each of us could go for a run, guilt free, while the other minded the kids. James had Saturday mornings and I had Sunday mornings. If we decided not to run, that was fine, but that was our guilt-free opportunity for time out
- Exercise in the house while the kids are home. Ten minutes sometimes means doing sit ups, push ups, squats and lunges around the house. This is usually while the kids are in the bath or playing. When the kids were younger, I’d do this during their day sleeps
- Exercise DVDs at home. I have lots of yoga and strength DVDs that I bring out occasionally and do in my living room either while the kids are awake or asleep
- 10,000 steps walking counts. If I walk more than 10,000 steps in a day that counts too. I wear a Garmin watch that tracks my steps. Usually though on the days I’m in the office I don’t hit this many steps as I’m sitting at my desk or in meetings. However, I often do on days I’m out of the office
- 8 hours’ sleep (sigh … I wish this was more often!). If I know I’m going to get more than 8 hours sleep (a rare thing) because I’ve gone to bed super early or am sick and stay in bed that also counts
Here’s what I do on the days where I can’t be bothered exercising
- Meditate to fall asleep. There are many days where I get to 11pm and I haven’t done anything. There’s no way I’m going to run or do push ups then and I know I’m not going to get 8 hours’ sleep. All I want to do is flop into bed, so my 10 minutes on these days focuses on meditation. I bought an app called “Buddhify” and it is the best $8 I’ve spent. It has short guided meditations for all different situations. The 2 I use the most are the meditations for going to sleep and when I’ve just woken up. Buddhify has 2 going to sleep meditations that are about 12 minutes long. I get into bed, set my alarm for the morning, pop my headphones in and listen to one of the meditations. I then sleepily take my headphones out when it’s done and drift off to sleep