I am a wife, a mom of two busy teens, work a full-time job, run a financial services business on the side and manage to workout 4 to 5 times per week.
Maintaining a fit lifestyle, especially in my early 40s is my biggest priority and I often hear mothers using their kids as an excuse to not workout, instead of making them the reason. As mothers we are required to juggle a multitude of responsibilities mainly focused on managing family and home, which can make our lives incredibly busy. Add a career and running a business into the mix, you have to become an expert at managing your time. I carefully and often obsessively manage my time from the time I wake-up, until the time I go to bed. I have a lot of activities to fit into a 24-hour time frame, so I have invested in a calendar that allows me to manage every hour of my day that I follow by every hour of my day. My two teenagers ages 15 and 17 are in a phase in their lives where they have busy schedules with school, extracurricular programs, social lives, learning to drive, and preparing to head off to college, which means I’m busy managing their schedules, organizing activities, assisting as needed, and just trying to stay sane.
Over the last couple years since joining Fit-Results, the magical hour for me to workout that would not impact my household turned out to be 5:00AM. I can’t say initially I was thrilled to wake-up at 4:00am, but this has become the time I invest in myself for myself, and my family life has truly benefited from it. I have the energy and the endurance to manage all I need to do for my family, while still having the energy to focus on the business I run with my husband. My mood after working out offers much more grace than if I had not, so I jokingly say, “Working out saves my family!” Admittedly, some things have gotten sacrificed for me to have “my time,” such as sleep, but overtime I have gotten accustomed to my schedule and my family fully supports my lifestyle.
An example of a typical day looks like this:
4:10am – Wake-up (I’ve gotten this down to the minute)
4:30am – Head to the gym (I listen to affirmations during this time)
4:50am – Arrive
5:00am – Workout
6:00am – Stretch
6:15am – Head to work
6:45am – Arrive to work and shower
3:45pm – Leave work
4:15pm – Pick up my daughter from school
4:45pm – 9:00pm – Dinner prep/Meet clients/Set-up appointments/Study/Prep work clothes and gym bag for the next day/Wash workout clothes
9:00pm – Conference call
10:00pm – Shower and head to bed
Let’s be honest, there are times when I’m not always able to follow my schedule, so if I require more sleep or need an extra day to recover, I allow it and WILL NOT feel guilty. I don’t often workout on the weekends because weekends are very busy for my family and I, however I’ll make it down to the gym occasionally on Sunday mornings to workout. My family is accustomed to waking-up on Sundays and not having me in the house but by the time I get home, I get to prepare breakfast for them.
If you find yourselves relating to me, below are some suggestions I have to incorporate fitness into your busy lives:
Schedule Conflict Free Times – Whether you workout early in the morning, during lunch, or immediately after work, figure out a block of time where your workouts will not conflict or impact your family during a time when you may be needed the most. Early AM works for me because my children are pretty independent and take public transportation to school. Thus, my presence at home isn’t required. Finding conflict free time will also prevent you from feeling any sense of guilt since we tend to put our family’s needs before our own. Aren’t you worth at least 1 hour a day? Yes, you are!
Prep in Advance – Think about what you can do the night before to make the following day as stress free as possible for you. Meal prep, pack your gym bag and get your work clothes picked out the night before. I leave my bags at the door so the next morning, I can just grab and go. This will also keep you organized and removes any excuses as to why you can’t workout. Create whatever system needed to take the excuses OFF of the table.
Invite Your Family to Your Workouts – When Fit-Results offers outdoor bootcamps, I invite my family to come with me. They don’t always accept my offer, but this takes the mystery away from “that place” where I spend my time away from home and we get to spend time together. A win-win for everyone! Is it bad I like to see them struggle a little too?
Rest Day is OKAY – Sometimes you just need to sleep in to rest, and that is okay. I noticed these are the rare days my family is excited to see that I’ve stayed home. This frees up a little time for me to spend with my family, drop one of my teens off at school, or allows me the time to prepare a special family breakfast, if my schedule allows.
Prioritize your time – People think I’m crazy when I tell them I don’t watch TV, but I don’t. Time that I would spend sitting down watching TV is directed towards preparing for the next day. You would be amazed by how much time you actually have when you remove TV from your life. My extra time is then prioritized for my business, studying, family time, or prepping for my workout the next day. If you can find time to watch TV, you can definitely find time to workout. I’m just sayin’!
Set Realistic Goals – Perhaps 4 to 5 days per week isn’t doable for you, but 2 to 3 days is. That’s perfect! Start with what will work for you and your family. Once you get the hang of your schedule and you find you can add an additional day, try for a week. If it works, continue. If it doesn’t, go back to what works. Some time is better than no time.
Have an accountability partner – I personally don’t have one, but I host an accountability group for my Mom-friends who need a little extra encouragement when working out. When you have people depending on you, looking forward to you joining them at the gym, or expecting to see you at the gym, you will be more likely to attend. If I miss the gym a few days, I can expect a text from Lou or from one of the 5AMers asking me, “Where are you?!” This definitely keeps me accountable.
As parents, our children constantly look to us as the example on how they should live their lives. I believe it is extremely important for our children to see firsthand how we juggle our lives as parents while maintaining and prioritizing a healthy lifestyle. Having kids shouldn’t mean you don’t have time to workout. It should mean you HAVE to make the time to workout. Show them it is possible, so they can see a healthy balanced life and adopt a similar lifestyle when they too become parents themselves.
Christie R. Edwards, MPH