6 Steps to Make Exercise a Routine for the Busy Mom
Routines make the things happen that you don’t always feel like doing. For me, a huge one is exercise. Running comes pretty naturally to me and something I have been doing for over ten years; however, the reality of being a busy mom, often is still a huge barrier for me. While I definitely do not always feel like it, I still manage to exercise 6 days a week. This simply would not happen if I did not have a consistent routine. The miles and burpees are literally scheduled into my week. That might sound excessive, but here’s the truth: if I don’t pencil in my workouts like they are important work meetings, they simply WILL NOT HAPPEN! Same with you?
I am coming from the perspective of someone who loves to run and loves staying active and healthy, so I can only imagine the real obstacle to actually get out there and workout when it might not come as naturally to you. This is just more of a reason that you need to make exercise into a weekly routine!
Routines Make It Happen!
As I have said a ton on here before, routines help us actually do the things that are good for us even when we do not FEEL LIKE IT. If I am being honest, there are very few days where I truly feel like pushing myself and running a hard workout. Even when the feeling or desire is not there, I still get it done because I know that I run hard every Wednesday morning. It is just what I do.
I have a LOT of thoughts when it comes to exercise routines for the busy mom. Before I even really get started, I want to clearly acknowledge that I absolutely understand that some mamas have greater barriers to fitting in workouts based on either being a single mama, having no family nearby, dealing with a tight budget, and/or having multiple little ones still at home to care for. With that said, I still firmly believe that 6 days of movement, even for the busy mom with limited help and resources, is not only possible, but absolutely necessary.
Before you start listing out the excuses about why there is no possible way you can exercise 6 days a week. I want you to stop. The excuses are likely valid, but if you truly are priortizing your health, you can and will make time for scheduling working out as a daily routine.
6 Steps to Creating Your Own Exercise Routine
Below are some step-by-step suggestions to help you get on the track of incorporating movement into your daily routine. Notice how I am saying MOVEMENT. We tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves with that word “exercise” or “workout.” There is this underlying pressure that if we do not have a solid hour to workout, then forget it. This way of thinking needs to stop. You have 10 minutes in your day. I don’t care how busy your days are. There are 10 minutes you can spare for intentional movement.
I will send you this 4-paged printable that I created that will help you target the times in your schedule that are open + guide you as you set goals and actually schedule the exercise into your week. I have made this PDF editable so if you choose to keep it on your computer, you can easily edit the boxes! To get this sent straight to your inbox, just enter you email below. If you are already a subscriber, you will getting this lovely PDF in my Tuesday newsletter.
1. Examine Your Weeks + Identify Open Windows
Take the time to list out all your time obligations and responsibilities during the week. Write it out as a schedule with time blocks. Once you have everything written out, identify the windows that are open. It might be very small windows, but even if it is 10-minute windows, highlight these.
2. Set Clear Weekly Goals
Be VERY specific. Set the number of times you plan to do cardio (run, spin class, bike ride, swim, treadmill, HIIT training). Set the number of times you plan to do strength training (core, weights, yoga, barre). For example, my typical weekly goals when I am not in full-on training mode is 4 runs per week + 2 classes (focused on legs, arms, and core).
3. Schedule It
Now that you have your goals, schedule the exact time + type of movement you will be doing on each day. Similar to my meal planning tips, I suggest that you do similar types of movement on each day of the week. For example, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays could be days you run. Tuesdays and Thursdays could be days focused on core strength. Saturdays could be either long run days (if you’re into that type of thing) or a morning class you attend to kick off the weekend on the right note. When scheduling, try to frontload your week. Schedule the hard things early on in the week when you are more motivated. For example, Monday-Wedneday I have most of my mileage scheduled in + a run workout. Put the hard things first!
4. Plan Ahead
Once your weekly schedule is set, next you need to plan out the logistics. As a busy mama, it is no longer as simple as just leaving the house for a run or the gym. You need to figure out who is watching your kiddos. Plan ahead and ask if you can have help in the hour you plan on getting out to exercise. If you don’t have help available to you, try to plan out with your spouse a time when they will be home. For us, this usually means waking up very early or using the evening time.
If limited help is a major barrier, try to plan most of your daily movement time when the kids are either in school, still asleep, napping, or my personal fav (can join you). The baby jogger is a great way to incorporate your little ones, while you get out the door and prioritize your own health. I wrote a whole post dedicated to tips on running with the jogger, which you can read here. There are also gyms that offer childcare, so this is another great option if you can swing a gym membership!
5. Actually Do It
This can sometimes be the hardest step. Once you have done the extra work of planning ahead and creating plans, you must actually commit to it. At first it might feel hard, especially if your only window of free time is in the evening, but once you make it a consistent routine, it will become easier and easier. Tuesday and Thursday evenings are the nights I go to a core class at my local Yogaworks. It used to be hard to find motivation to drive to these classes at 6 pm after a long day chasing Hudson, but now that it is a routine, it is something I look forward to and expect.
6. Be Flexible
Even with the routine set and things planned out, the reality is that certain days will simply not allow for your typical exercise routine to happen. There will be days where finding an hour window will feel nearly impossible and that is okay. I am learning that on these types of days, I can still incorporate 10-minutes of intentional movement into my day and this will help me to not feel guilty for skipping out and will also boost mood and productivity.
We often operate in this all or nothing mindset. We think if we don’t have a solid hour of time available, then we should just skip it. Not true! 10-minutes will always be better than none. Be willing to adjust and stay committed to the movement even if it will look slightly different than planned. Just getting out the door to run a couple miles and play at the park with your little one will always be a win over just choosing to skip it.
The tabata method is another great way to get in a solid workout in a short amount of time. It is similar to HIIT training in the sense that it focuses on doing certain exercises at a high-intensity level for 20 seconds and then resting for 10 seconds. I really believe we can all do something really hard for 20 seconds. You repeat this cycle 8 times. This is just 4 minutes of work, but it will push you in ways that going out for a casual 2 mile jog will not. I really believe this type of training is key for us busy mamas. It gives a high-quality workout in a short amount of time, and if done consistently can have huge aerobic and anaerobic results!
You’ve Got This
Wherever you are, whether that be training for a marathon or just trying to walk around the block daily, remember that you’ve got this and that prioritizing intentional movement daily is an essential part of your routine. If you do not have a consistent movement routine, I really hope this encourages you to do so.
Remember, it will likely not happen if you do not have a routine dedicated to staying active! You can always give up 10-minutes to move! Those intentional minutes put towards your health will ultimately make you a better human, mama, wife, and friend. I know that I am a wayyy nicer human, a more loving wife, and a much more patient mother when I get out there and make my running and fitness routine a priority.
Let me know how you squeeze in working out! I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below!