As a full-time working mother of a very active 3-year-old, I’m lucky to set aside two minutes each day to brush my teeth, never mind 30 minutes to exercise. That is, until one day, I heard my son say “mommy, watch this,” as he bent over into what appeared to be a downward-dog position. I don’t know where he came up with that because he’s never been to a yoga class, but I realized that the possibility of the two of us exercising together as a family had just become very real.
I grabbed a mat, popped in a yoga DVD and we had our very first yoga session right there in the living room. He was happy learning new positions in which to twist his little body, and I was happy that we were spending quality time together while I finally got the chance to exercise. Yoga is just one way to enjoy exercise with your kids as you teach them about the importance of fitness. Here are a few other ways to turn family fun time into family fit time:
Crank It Up
Whether it’s to J-Lo or “Cotton-Eyed Joe,” dancing is a fun way for anyone to burn a few calories (220 per 30 minutes to be exact!) After my son was born, I used to dance around the living room with him in my arms. Not only did I drop some extra baby weight, he would giggle and squeal with delight—and three years later, he still loves to dance. You can even add in some muscle-toning moves like squats and kicks for an extra oomph to your workout. So push back the couch, grab the kids and boogie the day away…or at least 30 minutes of it.
A simple game of hide and seek, tag, catch with a ball or soccer can also be a fat-burner for you (ahem, 150 calories per 30 minutes) and nothing but fun and games for them. Alternatively, making up your own “workout” game, such as creating a funky obstacle course or disguising a household chore as fun and energetic, exercises your creativity as well as your body.
Take It Outside
Most children love to help their parents in the yard and around the house. So why not put a mini rake in their mini hands and point them in the direction of a large tree with freshly fallen leaves underneath? Yard work and gardening can be a great way to keep everyone active as well as teaching them about the great outdoors. My son, for example, after helping me plant tomatoes this past summer, now knows that a red tomato means it is “ripe.” May not seem like much, but any word other than “NO” is a word I gladly welcome into his vocabulary.
Biking is a pretty obvious family exercise activity for those who have older children, but fun add-ons for bicycles allow you to take any age child along for an excursion. WeeRide is just one company that offers a cool center-mount carrier for babies or a “co-pilot” trailer with handlebars and pedals for toddlers. Have twins? No problem. Weehoo, another such company, sells a trailer seat for two.
Monkey See, Monkey Be
If you have your own gym or workout space set up at home, just invite your children to join in and follow what you do, within reason of course. Instead of giving them a barbell to bench press, maybe substitute it with a plastic baseball bat or the cardboard of an empty roll of wrapping paper. Stretching, sit ups, jumps, squats and running in place are all exercises doable as long as your child is of walking age. And when they get tired, have them lie along your back while you finish your pushups. For an example of a super-duper workout mom who not only works out with her children, but uses them as weights as well, check out Lauren Rodgers’ Instagram feed bottlesandbarbells.
Whatever regular activity you choose to do with your family, it’s important to remember that you’re setting a good example for an active, healthy lifestyle—something your children will thank you for in the future. Do you have any fun ways to slip a family workout into your busy schedule?