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Blog, Health, Mum Life

How to exercise with a toddler

As a mum looking after yourself is often the hardest thing to do. You use much of your energy caring for your family and put yourself last. Exercise is such a powerful way to clear your mind and refresh your body but when you have a toddler trying to fit it in can be so hard.

I remember when my daughter was a newborn up until about the age of 9 months it was much easier to fit in exercise. She would happily bounce away in her jumperoo or bouncer while I did a quick workout and a walk meant that she would fall asleep so I would kill two birds with one stone. Once she started getting mobile though it became much harder. But you can still fit in exercise despite having a toddler. Here’s how…

Make the most of breakfast time

When your toddler is eating breakfast it can give you a good 20-30 minutes (if you are lucky) to fit in a quick workout. Get up before they wake and get dressed and ready for your workout. Have whatever equipment you need handy and if you are following a workout video then have it on and waiting for you. Once you have put your little one in their high chair and put breakfast in front of them then get started. Working out in front of your kids has the added benefit of role modelling healthy behaviour to them. I find my daughter still likes to interact with me while I am exercising so I tell her what I am doing and try and involve her. A program like Body Beyond Birth is perfect for this. Follow up your workout with a breakfast smoothie.

Get up early

If you are able to get up early (and have a partner who can get the kids ready if they wake up while you are gone) this is the prime time to get in a workout and start your day the right way. Whether you workout at home, head out for a jog or go to the gym you are starting the day by doing something for yourself. If getting up early isn’t an option, when your partner gets home from work be ready to head out the door while they spend time with your kids. The benefit of this is that it gets you out of the house during witching hour!

Walk to the park

If you normally drive to the park, switch to a walk. If your toddler isn’t a fan of the pram try a trike. If you make it a regular habit of walking to the park then they will get used to it and happily sit in the pram for the walk knowing that they will benefit. When you are at the park, keep the heart rate up by chasing your little one around or doing some pushups/situps/lunges while keeping an eye on your toddler.

Use a gym creche

Many gyms have creches that are free to use for members of the gym. Get to know the people that run the creche so you feel comfortable leaving your toddler there. Many creches require you to book in advance or only run at certain times so plan in advance and time your visit for a class or quiet time at the gym so as not to hold up your workout while waiting for equipment.

Get them involved

If your toddler is a bit older you can get them involved in your workout. Put on some music and dance around together or try doing star jumps in the backyard. You will get some exercise in and your child will burn some extra energy (which will hopefully make them sleepy in time for bed!).

Join in at swimming lessons

If you are sending your partner into the water for swimming lessons with your toddler then maybe rethink. From constant lunging and squatting in the pool, I find swimming lessons to be a great workout. You might not feel confident in your swimmers but it is also great bonding time!

Lunch time workout

If you work in an office and are able to then take a short break at lunch and go for a walk or run. Getting some fresh air and your blood pumping will help you get through the afternoon before you head home. If you can’t take a break at lunch and your partner is doing day care drop off or pick up then get off the bus one or two stops early and walk the rest of the way. You might feel like you don’t have time but an extra 10 minutes for yourself is a good thing!

What are your tips for fitness for mums? Do you have a toddler? How do you fit in exercise?

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  • Great tips! I have two toddlers now so it’s a bit trickier.. we do a lot of walking with the double pram but that’s about it. I’ve just joined a gym with a creche though so onwards & upwards from here!

  • My best tip is to get an excellent toddler carrier. A 20 minute walk with 15 kg strapped to your torso is an excellent work out! Love my toddler tula!

    • Great tip! My daughter won’t always stay in the carrier so I’m scared to use it when we go for a walk!

  • I babywear (toddlerwear) on long walks, but I only have one of them after I drop my big boy off at school. Also i like doing the 7 minute workout thing (not sure how effective it is overall but it does burn like heck) and my kids will do it with me.

    • Babywearing is a great tip! I like the idea of 7 minute workouts also. 7 minutes sounds so doable.

  • Our toddler unfortunately can’t be strapped into a high chair anymore but I agree you can involved them in a workout – I just need to do it! Thanks for inspiring me to do some indoor aerobics this winter – could be fun for all of us!

  • At the moment my 13 month old is fine in the pram and has a little nap while i run. I have my eye on one of those trikes with pram handles in the future though…

  • I get a lot of exercise at the playground, chasing her around and trying to stop her from killing herself 😉

  • Vanja Joannidis

    Great post, I think as mums (especially first time) you sometimes loose your self in the day that you forget that some of the ‘static’ time we have during the day can be used wisely 🙂 First part of any exercise as a mum is to switch the TV off 😀