Fitness Articles

Workout Tips for Stay-at-Home Parents

Exercising with Kids Brings Plenty of Possibilities

When I was pregnant with my daughter I asked a friend of mine, a mother of three, “Don’t you get bored staying home with the kids all day?” Looking amused she replied, “Oh, I find stuff to do.” Now that my own daughter is one-year-old, I know why this question entertained my friend…
Between nursing, changing diapers, preparing meals (and cleaning up after those meals), visiting the playground, and trying to squeeze in a shower, being bored is something I wish for! Life as a stay-at-home parent isn’t all about Bon-Bons and soap operas (thank goodness!). Stay-at-home parents work just as hard as those who clock in elsewhere, and often find themselves stuck in the same no-time-to-exercise trap. 
Regular workouts can bring peace to your day and fitness to your body. If you’re desperate for fitness but can’t seem to find the time, all you need is some planning and a little creativity.   
8 Ways to Work-In a Workout
  1. Exercise with your kids. If your kids are old enough, let them bike while you run or rollerblade. Hiking makes for a fun family activity that keeps everyone shape. Or, create a fitness course in the backyard, complete with jump rope, jumping jack, and pushup stations.
  2. Invest in a jogging stroller or a “kid trailer” for your bike. When you’re pushing or pulling one of these, you’re sure to get a good workout—your kids will enjoy it too! Another current trend is the StrollerFit class, where parents (with their stroller-age children) utilize strollers for a cardiovascular and strength-building workout. 
  3. Strap baby to you in a baby carrier. If your baby is too young to feel comfortable in a stroller, you can still exercise together. There are many comfortable baby carriers on the market, including slings, front carriers, and backpacks. Adding 10-20 pounds to your frame for a walk will boost calorie burn, helping you shed those extra pounds. And babies love to be held close to you. In fact, touching enhances brain development in infants, so as you get fitter, baby gets smarter!
  4. Join a gym with child-care, or add it to your membership. Whether you don’t enjoy the great outdoors, or you live in a climate with blustery winters or lots of rain, outdoor exercise with the kids is not always an option. On-site childcare facilities offer convenience, and the peace of mind that if your child needs you, you’re only an intercom page away. Some gyms even have fitness classes for kids, so while you pump iron, the munchkins learn how to do the grapevine.
  5. Sign up for parent-baby yoga classes. If these are offered in your area, parent-baby yoga classes can help you build strength and stamina, reduce stress, and provide you another opportunity to bond with your child.
  6. Purchase some exercise videos. Yoga, Pilates, low-impact aerobics, and kickboxing can all be done on your living room floor with little or no equipment. Before you buy, rent a few from your local video store or check them out from the library to see which ones you like. BUY IT! SparkPeople's new Cardio Blast DVD features six 10-minute workouts that are easy to fit into your day!

  7. Improvise. If you miss your aerobics class because of a marathon naptime, pop in an exercise video or do lunges in the backyard with the baby monitor hooked to your pants. Don’t stress if you don’t get that perfect workout in every time. With exercise, doing some is always better than doing none.
  8. Most importantly, put exercise on your “to-do” list. Make it a priority. If that means getting up an hour early for a run, then set the alarm and go for it. (To "Learn to Love AM Exercise," click here.) You’ll benefit in countless ways, plus you’ll be a happier, more peaceful parent for your kids.

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Member Comments

    I have been a fit4mom member for over a year. I joined as a SAHM and continue to go now that I'm back to work. It was the best thing I have ever done! Great program!
  • I was expecting some workout ideas incorporating your child and was dissappointed in that. I made my baby toddler a weight to add to my strength workouts. He loved it. As he got older he was "my personal trainer." 1) Lay on back with knees up-Baby resting on your feet laying on your shins--a) extend legs out a little (abs!) b) Lift feet (leg & ab) 2) Lay on back extend legs up to ceiling-toddler+ stand in your hands next to your head and hold on to your feet. 1) lift toddler up to ceiling "reverse pushup") My son loved these exercises.
  • I had to cancel my gym membership after i had my son. I started waking up little bit earlier and doing my DVD workouts. From time to time my toddle like to join me. He thinks its fun to sit on me when i am doing my sit ups. His favorite is plank . He has no trouble to pick up my 6 pounds weights ( and he is only 2). As you can see exercising can be fun sometimes too.
  • Like the article but I am not a stay at home mom.
  • I am an older stay at home mom. I have 18 y/o, 20 y/o these two more or less help themselves. But I do have a special need little sweet heart who is 14. exercising around kids is tough especially when they are young. My 14 y/o loves to interrupt me while doing areobics. But he is giggling and smiling ear to ear. he mimics me alot I call him my little cheer leader. Recently I have joined a gym...but I am so used to exercising by my self...hopefully I will get used to the idea of working out with other folks.
  • I like to bycile due to my knees. is there anyway i can do this with a 5yr old?
    Also i feel gulity when i workout but i guess making it an "activity" may relieve my guilt.
    I actually found working out as a SAHM a LOT easier to fit in than it is now that I am back to working. I couldn't make excuses for not digging out my DVD's during the kids' naptime, because it was the perfect window of opportunity to get it done! Additionally, my kids all grew up with me fitting in exercise around them, so it became a normal part of their day when I told them they had to go play for half an hour while Mommy exercised. I never once felt like I was being selfish because I was doing it for my kids as well as me.
  • I have 2 kids that I homeschool (talk about keeping busy, I envy those of you with babies). I have started setting my alarm to wake up eariler in the morning to get my workout in undisturbed. It really helps. I make up sleep by going to bed an hour earlier. I am now able to start my days much lessed stressed, and with more energy.
  • I belong to a county recreation center and they offer classes for kids (starting as early as 6 months) in learning to swim. In some of The classes Moms or Dads get inthe pool with the kids and it can be a great way for both people to get a good workout.
  • As a SAHM of three boys for the past 10 years (well, it started out with one, LOL), finding the time to exercise, especially when they were babies, was very difficult. In fact, I didn't start exercising until my oldest was 1 1/2 because he was a horrible sleeper and I was tired alot! I lost 35 pounds before getting pregnant with #2 and that summer I got a bike seat for my bike. Boy did adding that 35 lb back on because of the baby did really increase my workout! When #2 was just over a year old, we got a bike trailer, but then I got pg. with #3 and wasnt able to bike with it, but did use it for a jogging stroller. That sure did come in handy when we wanted to bike as a family.

    Now that my babies are 5, 7, and almost 10, it is fun to be able to go out and play with them, but it is also nice not to have to wait until nap times to exercise.
  • I see a group mothers walking the mall every morning with their babies in strollers. I think it's such a good idea and they seem to have so much fun. They stretch and take over one corner of the mall to do other exercises as well. They line all the carriages up alongside each other and get a good workout.
  • You can try out workout videos before you buy them by using netflix...they have quite a few, actually. I was surprised!
    Good tips. It is SO hard to get fitness in when you're a SAHM! I now stay home with my VERY demanding 17 month old (I used to be the bread-winner & go to the gym during my lunchbreak). I just can't seem to workout when she is awake, she tugs on my pants, yanks my yoga mat out from under me, etc. I decided that I would make her naptime my workout time, instead of chores/reading time. I now get her involved with chore time and do my reading after she goes to bed. I think that people just have to get real what time they have, prioritize their health, and then find a way. I had to learn that I couldn't make time for 2 hour gym sessions, and that a spotless house is WAY less important than being fit! Now I just jam in a 30 minute cardio session and either 15-20 minutes of yoga or strength (and hopefully a quick shower), but I do it EVERY day and feel much better and less stressed or feeling guilty b/c I didn't go to the gym. I find it helps to get my workout clothes & shoes on & my video cued up before laying my daughter down for her nap, that way I'm ready to rock immediately and no precious nap time is wasted.
  • The email I got said "Tips for Busy Parents" and I believe these are appropriate tips, but when I opened the article the entire intro information regarded stay-at-home Moms. Found it disappointing and if I hadn't kept reading with an open mind would have been upset. I don't disagree that stay-at-home parenting is a career choice, but the email was mis-leading as to content and direction of the article.
  • Moms are raving about the new fitness dvd system, New Mommy Makeover. Check it out http://NewMommyMa It even comes with a Nutritional Guide! They are giving away a free video of exercises you can do with your baby too!

About The Author

Liza Barnes Liza Barnes
Liza has two bachelor's degrees: one in health promotion and education and a second in nursing. A registered nurse and mother, regular exercise and cooking are top priorities for her. See all of Liza's articles.

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