The Working Parent’s Exercise Conundrum

Sarah’s Rap: As a working mom, I find it difficult to fit in two things on weekdays:  exercise and fun time with my two boys. I leave for the office around 7 am and I return just in time to prepare the evening meal or if I’m lucky, sit down to eat what my husband has cooked. Sometimes I have doctor’s appointments or other errands after work which pushes everything even later.  Our post-dinner routine typically includes clean-up, showers, reading and the kids entertaining themselves while I make lunchboxes or prep food for the next day. By the time they are in bed, I feel like all I’ve done is work. My body is antsy and craving exercise, but I talk myself out of it: it’s too dark now; I’m too tired; I don’t want to exercise so close to bedtime; I gotta work on my book/blog to do; yada yada… Inevitably, this means that my weekdays are a blur of work at the office, work at home, work on my computer, a little reading and a bedtime crash. Then I  wake up and do it all again. Any exercise and fun kid time I get is on the weekend.  Sound familiar? If so, let’s make a pact together to change this pattern! 

“Exercise is really important to me – it’s therapeutic. So if I’m ever feeling tense or stressed or like I’m about to have a meltdown, I’ll put on my iPod and head to the gym or out on a bike ride along Lake Michigan with the girls.” ~ Michele Obama

If the First Lady can manage to fit in some exercise time with the kids, I should be able to manage it. I mean, it’s not like I’m creating policies to feed our nation’s children or help the poor. And I can’t even use the excuse that I’m working on a book, because um, she has a published one!

How do I plan to fit in both exercise and family time into my already crazy schedule, you ask? Well, multitasking and procrastination of course! Two things I fortunately excel at. Combining exercise and family time, as well as postponing cleanup/lunchboxes until they are in bed is going to be my strategy. Not only will this improve my health and sanity, it will help keep my video-game-loving kids fit (and the dog too)! What better way to reinforce to my sons the importance of both exercise and family time?  And yes, I am not above offering the occasional chance to hunt some elusive Pokemon if they feel lazy. Hey, don’t judge. If it gets them walking with me outside, I promise to ensure they don’t stare down at their phones the whole time.

We are fortunate to live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, where the scenery is gorgeous even in my modest neighborhood. Towering pines outline scenic views of the Cascade Mountains in the distance. Fall is my favorite time of year to get outside, so it’s a good time to try to make more time for walking before winter hits. Although winter means that I’ll be able to admire the neighbors’ holiday decorations. Hurray! Sounds like good motivation!

 As we live in a rainy area (understatement, I know) and the dark gloomy evenings are already here, having some inside options are crucial to meeting my daily post-work activity goal of at least thirty minutes. Indoor exercise won’t be as exciting as going outside, but jumping jacks, push-ups and crunches are usually activities I can talk my boys into. If not, a rousing game of “hall soccer” or Monkey In The Middle is a always a fave.Too bad they’ve reached the point where they’re embarrassed to dance around the living room with me. Oh how I miss the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse days sometime!

If you have any tips for getting outside and managing to squeeze in more family fun time mid-week, let me know! I’ll let you know how well I stick to my goal and I hope you all will do the same!


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