Can Working Out With Kids At Home…Work?
My daughter seems to have an affinity with wanting attention the moment the “3, 2, 1” beeps begin on my gym timer. In a way, it’s as if the countdown for my workout to begin, is her countdown to drop whatever she was doing and start yelling “Daddy!” over and over again, for no other reason than to interrupt me.
This may sound harsh, but if you’re an average parent, you know exactly what I mean. Our kids love us, and we love our kids. They want us to play with them. We want to spend time with them. because it’s the number one thing any older parent will say they wished they’d have more of. It can be hard navigating what’s too much though, and what’s not enough. Some lines are easy to be drawn. You need to go to work, for instance. Driving, especially in heavy traffic or bad weather. It gets tricky when it comes to “me” time, and unless your job IS to work out, exercise around your kids can be a challenge.
I don’t need to drone on about how important exercise and a healthy lifestyle is. I don’t need, nor am in a position, to give advice on child raising. I’ll focus on the problem I have, that you might have too, if you’re still reading this: How the hell do I work out at home with a little one (or ones) running around?
First, the obvious opportunities and tactics:
2. Throwing them in front of a tv
3. Locking them in their room
*This one is a joke, but it sometimes seems like a good option
Next, some tactics I have found useful:
1. Use your warmup/stretching as an opportunity to play together-Do shuttle runs and play tag/catch me if you can. Challenge them to copy your stretches. Cut them their own PVC pipe to mimic you. This obviously all warms you up, as it helps wear them out. It could play out as boring to them, and they head off to do something fun. It also could work out to be an opportunity to discover a physical skill or talent they happen to possess!
2. Talk to them-This may seem totally obvious, and depending on their age or understanding level, this might work out the best. I have found that saying things to my 4 year old like “You’ll hear two beeps: the first beep is Daddy starting his exercise. The second beep is him being done, and then he can play with you!” can work. It gives them the anticipation of playing, teaches patience, and sets a boundary: this is MY time, then we will have OUR time.
3. …When reasoning doesn’t work, try bribery-Again, I won’t tell you how to parent, don’t judge mine! I carry sugar free popsicles in the freezer in my garage gym. I let her know if she’s “good” while I do my exercise, she can have one. I revert to this as a second to last attempt (a TV show or movie being my Alamo), and since it’s seldom offered, it hasn’t become a problem. When she starts coming to the table bargaining for a popsicle in exchange for quiet, I’ll know I have failed (or, bred a natural business person)
4. Sometimes, know that it’s not worth the fight-If overall, you’re getting in multiple workouts a week, you’re eating good, sleeping good, and making healthy choices, if all else fails, chalk the day up as a loss and play with your kid(s). This for me has been the most difficult option to wrap my head around, but probably my most rewarding. In ten years, I won’t remember the one day I missed out on that thruster and burpee workout. I will remember that’s the day I skipped it, and played ‘Kitchen’ with my daughter.
It can be very tough trying to balance the two. Knowing where that line is. How much you’re willing to sacrifice, either way, to accomplish both. A benefit of the exercise is, hopefully, a long life with less issues down the road. Completely blowing that off to spend every moment with your kids might work in the ‘Now’, but can affect the ‘Later’. And the adverse effect of keeping your nose to the grindstone, is missing out on so much quality time you can’t get back. The balance will be different for each person. Overall, I’d say trust your gut; if you THINK you are neglecting your family, you probably are. If you THINK you’re using your family as an excuse to not better yourself physically, you probably are. Use some of the tips from above, as well as anything else you think of, and you’ll be able to find a may to make working out, work out!
Venice Beach, CA