Getting workouts in with a toddler and long work week

Hi Everyone - I'd like to ask in advance that we don't turn this into a, "Who has it harder? Stay at home moms or working moms?" thing. Every parent faces their own challenges. My biggest challenge happens to be that I work 45+ hours per week.

I used to work out 5-6 days a week religiously. There is a gym in my office building and was able to go on my lunch break. I changed jobs about 10 months ago and my work load just doesn't allow my to spend an an hour and 15 minutes at the gym in the middle of the day. By the time a walk to the gym, get dressed, run for 20-30 minutes, shower, and get back to work, it really is an hour and 15 minutes.

From 6am to 9pm I am swamped with a million things to do that don't include exercise. There is a quiet period right after dinner when I could work out, but that is literally the only hour a day that I can spend with my son where we aren't running around trying to accomplish some task. That's our fun hour, and it's sacred. Once he goes to bed, then all of the chores that were neglected during the day have to be done.

To anyone out there in a similar situation: When do you work out? If it's before work, how do you motivate yourself to stop pushing the snooze button, get your butt out of bed, and exercise? If it's at night, how do you tell the TV and that book that's been sitting on your nightstand forever that they will have to wait one more day?

I'm not whining... I know that this is on me. I just need some motivation and maybe some helpful hints.


  • StaciMarie1974
    StaciMarie1974 Posts: 4,138 Member
    You can take some time during a lunch hour, or not at all? It doesn't have to be going to the gym. I don't have access to a gym near work. Sometimes I walk outside at lunch time, or jog in place watching Netflix at my desk. Depends on the weather. Perhaps some evenings, use the hour with your son to take him for a walk in his stroller. Doesn't have to be the entire hour.

    I'm not good with getting up earlier in the morning. I'm up at 6am anyhow, it just doesn't work for me.
  • StaciMarie1974
    StaciMarie1974 Posts: 4,138 Member
    Ps-if you like to watch TV that can be combined with exercise. Look into getting a rebounder aka mini-trampoline. They range in price from $20-800. (Literally, $800!!!) I have an Airzone brand, 48" that I use in the living room. It has bands, not springs, so not squeaky. Great for cardio and easy on the joints. Your son would probably get some fun out of it also.

    The Airzone can be ordered from Walmart online - so if you get it and hate it, you can always return to Walmart. $40-50 depending on sales.
  • squeakybuttcheeks
    squeakybuttcheeks Posts: 54 Member
    love the trampoline idea! I take 1/2 hour everyday and run up and down the stairs in my building. Just bring baby powder and deodorant to make up for the shower you will miss.

  • Jade0529
    Jade0529 Posts: 213 Member
    My only suggestion is to look at your "million" things and see if anything can be streamlined or made easier for you.
    -Do you have any help?
    -any shortcuts in cooking that you can take like using a slow cooker, precutting and freezing veg ready to go, prepackaging meals etc
    -can you afford to hire a cleaner - even someone that just comes in for an hour or two to help you out
  • kgeyser
    kgeyser Posts: 22,505 Member
    I'm a SAHM, but I work out at home. I get up everyday at 4:30 am to get my workout in, because that is my best shot at being able to workout uninterrupted. I was working out at night but that just meant less time alone with my husband, so I switched. It's nice to have it done and out of the way so I don't have to worry all day about fitting it in.

    I have a friend who bought one of those under the desk bikes for work, so even if she can't leave her desk she can still get exercise. Pedal for 15 min every hour and you've clocked 2 hours of exercise in an 8-hour workday.
  • minizebu
    minizebu Posts: 2,666 Member
    Working out during your lunch hour does not have to include a trip to the gym. You could walk for thirty minutes, not require a shower, and still have time to eat a sack lunch. Something is better than nothing. You can also incorporate more walking during your day by parking as far from the building as you can, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, getting up and walking to co-worker's desk for a quick verbal exchange instead of emailing, etc.

    If getting up early in the morning to get a workout in is not easy, then you can start by just training yourself to wake up a bit earlier each morning (but not working out). Set your alarm fifteen minutes earlier than usual and get up to get a cup of coffee, telling yourself you don't have to work out. You can use that time, instead to reflect on your upcoming day. It will get you used to getting up a bit earlier. Give yourself permission to get up earlier, but not work out. Then, you can gradually start pushing that wake up time earlier, until you are used to getting up early and you feel invigorated by it, instead of groggy. At that point add a workout before you shower. (It helps if you keep a regular bedtime and start making that bedtime earlier to correspond with the earlier rising time.)

    On the other hand, you can definitely work out in the evening. If you own a treadmill or some other home cardio equipment, then you could set up a stand with your laptop and surf the Internet while you use it. Or place a small TV nearby. Then you don't have to miss your shows and you can still work out. Or, if you don't own any exercise equipment, then start taking walks in the evening. Pack up your toddler in the stroller and take him or her along.

    There is more than one way to skin a cat and there is more than one way to get some exercise in. Use your imagination. If you offer up an excuse for why something won't work, then figure out something that will. Where there is a will there is a way.
  • MichelleD7896
    MichelleD7896 Posts: 7 Member
    Thanks! All very good suggestions. We do go for walks as a family after dinner, if it's nice out. I live in Michigan, for the last few months nice evenings have been rare.

    Some days I can squeeze a walk in on my lunch hour, but honestly most days I'm scarfing down a salad while I work on a project.

    It's not so much that I have a love of TV. I think the problem is more that I'm drained by that point in the day and sitting on my butt watching TV is a much more attractive option than running. I just need to do it!
  • MichelleD7896
    MichelleD7896 Posts: 7 Member
    I like the housekeeper idea. :)
  • ninerbuff
    ninerbuff Posts: 47,947 Member
    There are 7 minute workouts that IF you put in the intensity and effort, yield decent results for fitness and health. That's what exercise is for.
    Weight loss is more about your intake. And that has more to do with how much and what you eat.

    A.C.E. Certified Personal/Group FitnessTrainer
    IDEA Fitness member
    Kickboxing Certified Instructor
    Been in fitness for 30 years and have studied kinesiology and nutrition
  • rainbowxelephant
    rainbowxelephant Posts: 71 Member
    I feel for you on this. I like the above suggestions. Or would your son participate with you? I try workout when my toddler is napping or after she goes to bed, but since you work long days that's not as much of an option for you. I think that working out with him is better than not at all! Get play dumbbells and he'll probably follow along with you. Maybe cut your workout down to half an hour so you still have time to play as well? IT's all about finding something that works for you personally. Getting an under desk bike sounds smart as well.
  • ragan4bama
    ragan4bama Posts: 58 Member
    Higher a house cleaner:) Best decision I have made! Even if you can't exercise on lunch in the gym just a short walk will help some!
  • scraver2003
    scraver2003 Posts: 528 Member
    Get a housekeeper. You will not regret it. Even just an hour or two once ever week or two will be a big help... I like to spend my time with my kids, my hubby, and running... not on doing chores. I usually am able to work out during my lunch break. That is really the only time I can squeeze it in. Can you leave work a week bit early and get a workout in before going home?
  • KatDJZ
    KatDJZ Posts: 224 Member
    I didn't read everyone's responses, so I don't know if it was mentioned, but I'd try to find something you can do with your son. Go for a walk with him in a stroller, or if you're a runner, look into a jogging stroller. Maybe biking with those little kid thing you hook on the back? I'm sure you'll still want to work out on your own sometimes, but this will give you a little bit of quality time and workout time combined :)
  • RedHotRunner
    RedHotRunner Posts: 850 Member
    I get up at 4:45-5AM. It's hard at first, but once the habit is formed, it becomes second nature. You can pop in a DVD and work out at home or go for a quick 3 mile run around the neighborhood..

    It's the only time I can get it done. I don't have the energy after work and that's really my family time anyways.
  • KayBallin
    KayBallin Posts: 111 Member
    I get to the gym at 4:45am now and I'm out by 5:50 to get back home by 6am, shower, and out the door for work at 6:45.

    It was hard at first, but now I'm totally used to it. Though I am not a parent, I do work really long hours with a long commute (roughly 4 hours round trip), so by the time I get home and make myself dinner, I literally don't have time to any anything else but go to bed.

    I love going to the gym super early because it's never crowded.

    Here are some tips that helped me make the transition:
    -Go to bed in your workout clothes.
    -Remind yourself of WHY you're doing it in the first place. Early morning works = me time.
    -You'll feel energized for the rest of the day. I feel so much better and happy I did it when I'm done :)
    -Finally, just remember that it gets easier. Once your body is used to it, it becomes almost automatic.

    On the weekends I still workout fairly early (8am) because it just feels weird sleeping in. LOL.

    Good luck!
  • jr235
    jr235 Posts: 201 Member
    On the housekeeper bit try to find a teenager or poor college student to come and help. I did house cleaning as a teenager and in college in cash, so no taxes, for not much money.

    Also, do you have to be working that much? What is more important, your health and family time or money? I'm not suggesting you completely stop working, I'm a working mom of a 3 year old with another on the way, but there may be ways to cut back.

    Also on the working front, will your work let you stagger your hours? My boss allows me to do this. One day I take two hours off, and make up for it one hour two other days. I use those two hours to do errands or things around the house, because as much I love spending time with my little one I can get grocery shopping or chores done in half the time without her. ;)
  • keshabbaker
    keshabbaker Posts: 152 Member
    I feel your pain, I am a mother of a toddler myself and it's very hard to find time to workout. I am a member of a gym and the gym closes at 9:30pm so some nights I go to the gym at 8:30-8:45 and get at least a 30 min workout. I usually put my toddler to sleep and muster up enough energy to go but it's very hard. All I can say is that I am tired of being over weight and I have to do something about it that's what motivates me. FYI I watch tv at the gym. I have also been going for a walk on my 15 min break at work which burns 68 calories at a moderate pace. I also go the restroom and complete 50 squats at work. Good luck and remember take time for yourself because your job and child can't get what they need from you if you don't take of yourself first.
  • dmenchac
    dmenchac Posts: 447 Member
    I don't think you are whining. This is actually a problem for many people.

    My suggestion:

    If you can't streamline any of your daily activities, don't work out.

    You never have to run or lift weights or go to the gym if you eat a proper, well tracked diet..

    You can lose weight with zero exercise.
  • veganbettie
    veganbettie Posts: 701 Member
    I just started the C25K program, but I've been taking my toddler with me in his stroller on an outside walk....I can't afford a gym and I refuse to lose even more time with my kid since I work as well. We run, and chat a little bit about the cows we pass by, and it's just nice.....I've been doing it before dinner/after work, those nights I make sure I have a really really easy dinner and normally it's eaten late, but whatever, it's important to me that I do this. And it's even more important to me that I don't lose even more time with my son.
  • arf24_1
    arf24_1 Posts: 17 Member
    I have 2 kids (age 1 and 4) and work 50 hours a week. I get up at 5AM and workout at home for about 30 min a day. I am a bit of a morning person, so I never hit snooze anyway. I just get up, get dressed, and get moving. Soon it will become habit. Good luck!