To those who are used to setting time aside and are struggling to carve that out in your current situation… this one’s for you.
Maybe setting time aside for yourself to exercise alone is not super realistic for you in these strange and trying times. Perhaps, finding that time just for you is saving your literal sanity. If that’s you – keep making that time and making those gains. You are incredible.
To those who are used to setting time aside and are struggling to carve that out in your current situation, this one’s for you.
Joel and I regularly workout with our kids
(8 & 6 years old). It is basically our usual routine unless we feel that they need our undivided attention to stay safe or to not argue. We can attest,
getting in a good workout with your kids around is not only possible, it can become a really awesome part of your day and something you all look forward to.
First, some tips. Then, some workout ideas!
Tips for working out alongside your kids (and actually getting a workout in yourself):
Review the movements with them as a warm up, then decide who is using what. Then set up everyone’s space.
Maybe you are pressing a barbell or a dumbbell. Kids love to feel buff, too! Let them grab a can or two from the pantry, some water bottles, or even a pillow for the littles. Give everyone their own workout space to avoid colliding equipment, accidental injuries, and sibling spats.
Write the workout out, preferably on a whiteboard or big sheet where it is easily visible.
You can’t remember every rep and movement – neither can they. For big kids, keep the words simple so they can read along. Consider some stick figures for the littles. Review the movements one more time and have them repeat (“burpees, run, squat, run!”).
Consider having them pace instead of count reps
Our 8 year old is a rule-follower and a very reliable counter. Sometimes for big sets we give him props to help with counting (move a stone every 10 reps until all 5 stones are moved). Our younger guy…not so much. Usually he paces with a parent, meaning he does the same move for the same time, no matter how many he does. This saves him getting confused and getting accused of lying by his big brother *cue eye roll over how many fights this has caused*.
Model, model, model
Once you hit go, don’t try to coach them. If a kiddo is pacing with you, announce each movement as you switch to it and then just go. If an older one who is working alone forgets what to do next, the cue is, “Watch me.” If you keep stopping to tell them what to do next, you will get frustrated and miss out on the benefits of exercise for yourself. Just keep going and keep modeling the effort and attitude you want from them. Kids are so, so smart. Once they go through this pattern with you a few times, they will catch on and everyone will benefit.
What if they cry/get bratty/refuse?
If they are hurt, obviously pause the clock, check on them, show compassion, and then see if you can keep going as a team. If one child is simply being difficult, compliment the one doing things well until you are out of breath. (“Aedan, I love how you are taking your time and getting all the way to the ground.” “Clark, those presses are strong! Keep locking your arms out overhead.”). Often, the one one struggling with their attitude will catch on and jump in. Flat out refusal? Ignore. You are home, they aren’t going anywhere and you can probably still see them. Here’s my #1 tip from too much experience: don’t stop your workout to yell or lecture. You will be mad, they will dig their heels in, you will absolutely reap no benefits from the exercise. Finish your workout with the compliant ones and try again another day.
Workouts that go well with kids alongside (tried and tested):
Head Shoulders Knees & Toes
As Many Rounds as Possible (AMRAP) in 10 minutes:
5 pike push ups
10 shoulder press with household object(s)
15 air squats
(air = unweighted)
1 lap of the house jog
Superman & Friends
200m jog (run like Flash)
20 Supermans *
20 mountain climbers (climb like Spiderman)*
20 sit ups (abs like Batman)
Deck of Cards
Use a traditional deck (no jokers) or download a free app. Face cards = 10 reps
Diamonds: squat jumps
Spades: stair step ups
Clubs: pike push ups*
*You can easily find tutorials of moves on YouTube by simply searching, or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
There are so many more of these, too! In fact, we are seeing so many of our members needing to switch up to workouts like these, that I am writing a whole slew of them for our customized training program.
This can work!
It takes time, patience, modeling, and a determination to take care of your own fitness and the health of those you love, but IT WORKS.
You can have your kids and fitness too, mums and dads.
Refuse to believe anything different.
So next time you are tempted to think, “I’ll never find time for that until the kids go to bed, and then I’ll probably be too tired!” change that mindset to
“Let’s make this a part of our day so we all get the benefits!”
You’ve got this.