I hope I’m not alone when I say that there are some days.. okay, A LOT of days when I feel like all I want to do is sit down and let someone else handle all of the chaos that is life with a toddler.
Unfortunately, my husband works insane hours and there is usually no one else to pick up the slack. This leaves me to be the cook, maid, teacher, errand runner, and playmate.
Let me tell you a little secret, sometimes all it takes for a little boy to be happy is sitting on the floor of the playroom, pretending to eat all of the food he has cooked for you and the coffee he has made you. On these days, I take full advantage of his playfulness and use this lazy time to encourage his imagination.
We also have daily play-by-yourself time to encourage independence and let mommy get to work on that pile of laundry yet to be folded. But what do you do when you really need to get a workout in, and this little monster won’t leave you alone?
Naptime is always an option, but do I really want to use my only break to do squats? No thank you.
That’s why I have come up with a few creative ways to sneak in some workout time disguised as toddler playtime.
If you don’t have one of these pull-behind buggies, just get one! My son absolutely loves going for rides in this thing, and I get to grant his wish while also working on my glutes. win-win!
Trips to the park
The good part (or bad, depending on how you look at it) about going to the park with a toddler is that you can’t really just sit down and watch them play. (At least my paranoid butt can’t!) You kind of have to walk around with them and make sure they don’t fall off of the play equipment or try climbing on something that is too advanced for them. So why not really get involved and make it into a fun workout? running around, lifting them up, swinging together, climbing, etc. All of these are great forms of exercise that we have forgotten since becoming boring adults!
Laundry basket adventures
Does anyone else remember how fun laundry baskets were as kids? With a little imagination, they became jail cells, zoo cages, swimming pools, castles, trains, boats, or cars! Get involved with your littles imagination with a laundry basket and a fabric belt. I tie the belt through one of the holes in the laundry basket, then loop it around my leg (Switching legs every few minutes). suddenly you are the super fun horsey pulling the wagon, while also getting in a great leg day!
Piggie-back rides and horsey-back rides
What kid doesn’t love a good piggie-back ride? And what mom couldn’t use a little extra cardio in her life? Tip- invest in some knee pads if your monsters like the horsey-back ride as much as mine.
How long has it been since you have gotten out to the back yard and played a nice game of tag? My little guy loves to be chased! Bonus points for making dinosaur noises while you’re in pursuit. This is a great way to exhaust that never-ending toddler energy as well as getting your heart rate up.
My son giggles and claps with glee whenever I pull out my yoga mat and videos. He thinks it is great fun to copy what the lady does on tv with mommy, and I have much more fun with my workout while watching him attempt the different stretches and poses. You might be sat on at some point during the workout, but what’s life without a little unpredictability?
This one usually happens when I’m actually trying to relax, but sometimes you need exercise forced on you, I guess. Sitting with my legs crossed, the little monster comes over and sits on my foot that I then lift in the air and back down, usually while singing a silly song. When one leg gets tired, I switch until I can’t take it anymore and I tell the monster to go ask daddy to do it.
One thing I have learned over my course of motherhood is that when you’re playing with your kids, you really have to force yourself to forget about everything else that needs to be done. Yes, I need to be doing dishes or folding laundry, but right now that doesn’t matter to my son. What matters to him is that mommy is spending time with him and showing him that he matters.
You also don’t have to sacrifice your own health and wellness in order to spend time with your kids, you just have to adjust your expectations and find new ways to do things together that used to be solitary activities.
What are some of your favorite ways to get in an unconventional workout with your kids?