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For Moms With Multiple Young Children (or anyone else in a perpetually time-crunched situation)

Monday, September 02, 2013

On a board helping people overcome eating disorders that I am a part of, a gal posted saying that she was on the verge of tears: She has three young children at home that she is homeschooling and simply can't find time to exercise. It sounded to me like she was suffering some guilt from this. She also stated that she is worn out all the time and concerned as to why this might be happening. This was my reply to her. I thought it might help some of my blog readers who struggle with similar issues:

I normally just lurk here and don't post much, but I am a personal trainer and feel compelled to tell you that you are officially off the hook for dedicated workouts until your kids get a little bigger. If you don't have time, you don't have time. There isn't much you can do about that.

How do I know? I also used to have three little ones- Stair steps. For a while they were all in diapers. It was nutzo. You can only do what you can do, and they need a healthy mom and you need your mind WAY more than anyone needs 30 minutes of dedicated exercise a day.

Also, the exhaustion you feel? Totally normal in your situation. It's part of being a mom with three little ones, so don't sweat it. That will improve with time. It's just part of the territory right now. It'll get better as they get older. I promise.

The most important thing you can do is eat as good as possible. Diet is most of the battle, anyhow. And if you have a few minutes to get a walk or do some bicep curls with spaghetti sauce cans, it's a bit of a bonus.

Your situation is uniquely YOURS. You have to give the overall picture a good, hard look and be honest about what is best for your mental health and your families well being. I'm not saying come up with excuses to not exercise, but if you really, truly don't have time there is no point in beating yourself up about it. Just do the best you can in your individual situation with the idea in the back of your mind to get to exercise the minute life allows.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    This is good info Nancy. There are lots of things here I'm sure others, like me, hadn't thought of.
    1612 days ago
    Great advice! We have 4 little kids (from 18 mos to 7 yrs) and find that you really do have to be creative to fit in activity. And the first step in the right direction is eating well.
    1647 days ago
  • OPTIMIST1948
    Thank you for posting this. I am in a new job and when people ask me how its going I say 'Good - but I have barely enough time to bath myself" I am cutting myself serious slack, trying to eat responsibly and not live in filth. I *know* it will get better but its not there now.
    1647 days ago
    I am there now! I only have one little one. You are right I do feel guilty that I can't seem to dedicate some time to work out, what ticks me off more is that hubby could help me get that 30 min if he would just look after her. I couldn't imagine how I would be feeling if I had 3 little ones running around.
    1689 days ago
    Nancy, that was great advice. I think that women have this notion that they must be PERFECT and that things are black and white - either you are ALL ON BOARD with the healthy lifestyle or you're a slob.

    Life is unpredictable and there are times when some things, like regular exercise, just aren't going to happen. I have been going through this all this year.... After my marathon in January, I got injured and then I was super, unbelievably busy with work. I still exercised, just not as much. Someone with a "black and white" mentality might say, "well, I can't run 60 miles a week like I'm used to doing, may as well sit on the couch and eat junk"... but I know that it's temporary and ANYTHING I can do is worth it, so I've managed to maintain my sanity AND my fitness (somewhat!).

    Similarly, about 10 years ago, I was working full time AND going to graduate school. So, guess what, forget about running marathons or even half marathons. Some days, all I had time for was a brisk 30 minute walk, and you know what? That was just fine....

    As usual, your advice is SPOT ON!
    1689 days ago
  • IRP1114
    Great advice : ) The worst thing to do is beat ourselves up. It doesn't change or help anything. Only makes it worse! The best thing we can do is just give it our best and be happy with it. Every bit of effort in making the right choices adds up at the end of the day. Like not finishing the kids leftovers lol! Diet really is everything for us moms. Even if and when we do make time for exercise, we can easily undo our calorie burn with one wrong choice as the day goes on especially if we "give up" at the end of the day when we are exhausted. It is all about balance and finding the simple things we can stick to!
    For me it was a necessity to get my sweat on in the mornings even during all the years of little sleep. I would rather skip that last nap and get my sweat on even if it was only 20min before the day started getting too hectic. I just used a video monitor so I could have my headphones on and still be able to monitor the little ones sleeping. And the swings always came in handy those early mornings they just wanted to be up early with me : )
    Keep the great advice coming! Love reading your blogs emoticon
    1689 days ago
    Great advice for busy people with or without kids. Thank you for sharing.
    1691 days ago
  • BERRY4
    Thanks, Nancy, for your kind words. Even though I'm not in that "season" any more, I have often beat myself up for not exercising and letting everything slide during those years. That's when food became a "comfort" and now I'm paying the price.

    All that aside... it does help, each time I want to do something that I'm not able to do for one reason or another, is to remind myself that "this will change" and that there are "different seasons in life" to be able to do certain things. I can add it to my "bucket" list...

    And now that I can, exercise is in the top 3 of got-to-do's!
    1691 days ago
    I do run short of time, but mostly, I give into temptation and social eating is a big problem for me. I try to eat clean, but struggle with potato chips, pizza, and Mexican restaurants. That is the reason I have returned to spark people to get motivated to eat clean and stop the junk food roller coaster.
    1691 days ago
    That is not only great advice, it is so true. I a always exercised, but I seriously remember days when I would be doing leg lifts in the floor, then the next thing you know, I would have one of my three saddled up on my legs waiting to ride the horsey. So it is a challenge.
    1691 days ago

    Comment edited on: 9/2/2013 3:47:49 PM
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