As a mom who works from home, the small amount of child care I’m able to cobble together is generally reserved for phone calls during which it would be counterproductive to hear “mommy, mommy, mommy” in the background, and the sort of writing that involves concentration, which includes this post but generally not tweets. (That explains a lot about my Twitter feed.)
The last thing I’ve got time for when my kids are with the sitter is a trip to the gym. And in the evenings, I just want to relax at home with the kids, not head out to Zumba class.
But it’s not uncommon for me to get through a day of emailing and phone calls and checking off items on the to-do list…only to realize that my rear end is numb because I only got up twice, once to make a 45-second bathroom trip and another time to refill my cup of English Breakfast, in eight hours. And that just won’t do!
I’ve been working hard to fit working out – or at least, actual movement – into my busy and fractured work-at-home lifestyle, and I’ve picked up on a few things that seem to work:
- Don’t put it off. I can’t put off working out until too late in the day, because with all the unpredictable factors I juggle on a day-to-day basis, it’s too easy to let all the “everything else” parts of life fill up every possible moment. Also, I have a deep-seated aversion to “wasting” a shower, so if I plan to work out in the evening, I can’t bring myself to shower before that…and as you might have noticed, it’s hard to feel like a professional when you hang out all day in your pajamas with dirty hair.
- Check out your local YMCA. It might not have a super-snazzy workout room (then again, it might) but the Y generally has pretty good, and often free, child care and other programs to keep the kids happy while you work out. You can even look at it as a way to buy a few extra, quiet minutes each day to make a phone call or answer email in the lobby. I usually work out, shower, and then check on the kids – if they’re fine (usually they don’t seem to notice I’m gone), I grab a chair and take care of a little business before I get back into Mom mode. That shower and the few minutes of quiet in the lobby are sometimes all the incentive I need to pack a gym bag and load the kids in the car.
- Find ways to be active with your kids. Work-at-home moms have to juggle a lot of roles at once, which can sometimes leave us with feeling like we aren’t doing any of it well enough. I know that for me, the nagging feeling of always being “on” sometimes translates into a reluctance to use my “off” time for exercise – I just want to hang out with my family! That’s why I’m working to find fun, active things we can all do together. For instance, despite my reluctance to try, last weekend I went downhill skiing for the first time. As it turned out, I had a blast hitting the bunny hills with the little ones and my oldest son got a huge kick out of coaching me down a “real” hill for the first time. Now I’m looking forward to making skiing something we do together regularly as a family. We’ve also been scouting for inexpensive biking equipment on Craigslist so that all 7 of us can go out together this spring and summer. Racquetball, hiking, and snowshoeing are other activities you can do with the whole family.
- Work small bursts of activity into your day. Sometimes life gets in the way, and you just can’t seem to fit a trip to the gym, a 90-minute yoga class or a two-mile run into your life. But that doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to sloth status. Keep a set of hand weights by your desk, and challenge yourself to get up and do arm exercises for five minutes of every hour. Drop and do 10 push-ups (or, okay, however many you can) every time you get up to go to the bathroom. Run up and down the stairs a couple of times a day. Every little bit counts, and if there’s one great thing about being a work-at-home mom, it’s that you’re used to finding little snippets of time in your day to make things happen.
If you’re a work-at-home parent, how do you find ways to stay active?
Thanks to Brita for sponsoring this series of posts about caring for yourself as a mom!