If you're reading this, you’re probably a fellow parent wondering how to master the balancing act of household chores and general family life with your fitness goals.
As a parent, time is never on your side and home life priorities tend to dictate your daily schedule, pushing those workout opportunities to the sidelines.
There is no longer a need to bench your exercise goals!
Why not make exercise a part of family life? It can be much like eating breakfast or loading the washing machine.
It is possible, and the advantages far outweigh the disappointment of inactivity.
1. Go for a family run
The first thing that springs to mind are those lightweight jogger prams and pushchairs. It’s a major craze and I’m sure you’ve seen or heard plenty about them.
You probably have a local parent running club not far from you. If company whilst running is your thing, why not sign up? You can kill two birds with one stone; keeping fit whilst providing endless entertainment for your child who’s likely to pretend they are Lewis Hamilton.
For slightly older children why not go for runs together? Understandably, you may not be able to pick up speed whilst running side-by-side with your child. A great alternative is to do mini laps if you have the space that allows it. Choose a location where your child remains in your sight and have them do one lap on-one lap off whilst you go continuously.
Make it fun and encourage a competitive spirit. Have a race, cheer them on but be sure to let them win at times – you don’t want to crush their confidence.
2. Exercise with your child
Let’s be honest, whether your child is a newborn, toddler or slightly older, they just want to be around you, practically in your shadow, demanding your attention.
You want to get your fitness goals back on track and get in shape. So why not combine the two?
First things first, before you engage in any exercise with children it's paramount that you consider safety.
No you can’t throw little Tommy into the air during your squat thrust, run away mid release hoping someone else will catch and look after him for you – as much as you may want to!
That being said, lets look at a few exercises you can do together:
• Squats – there are many variations such as; squat thrusts, squats holding your child in your hands with arms out straight or close to body.
• Lunges – with your child close to your body or if small enough and you fancy a challenge try lunge rotations.
*for squats and lunges where your child is effectively your weight – don’t panic about this increasing as they get older, you can do less reps as they get heavier.
• Press-ups – lay them underneath you and give them a little kiss with each rep.
• Circuits – for older children, try modifying some of the stations so they can do them safely.
• Swimming – this a great form of exercise you can do as a family from newborn and up.
3. Have a family adventure
What child doesn’t love an adventure! During these experiences you can relax and allow yourself to be a child again. Visit those locations you normally wouldn’t without them.
Join in at the adventure playgrounds, climb the climbing frame and swing on the monkey bars. Who can hold on the longest, don’t be surprised if your child beats you! Children have great strength to bodyweight ratios.
We took a camping trip to the New Forest, where in-house and chalet accommodation was also available. We enjoyed the great outdoors, and beautiful hikes. More importantly, they had plenty of activities onsite including climbing, kayaking, adventure courses and archery to name a few, for the whole family to enjoy. Ramp up the suspense and try keeping the daily activity a surprise.
4. Make exercise and sport a family thing
Much like the camping trip, if you intertwine exercise and sport into your family life and make it a habit, all members are sure to reap the rewards.
When you engage in fun family time, try to think of sporting activities you can all do together. Here are some of my favourites:
• Bike rides
• Playing on scooters (not the electric kind, and yes they do make these for adults too)