Exercising At Home, With the Kids

Okay, okay. I’m listening. I’ve had several people ask me what to do when, say, they’re snowed in. Or it’s pouring outside for days at a time. Or they get attacked by dogs whenever they set foot outside to go for an early run. Or they don’t have access to a gym. Or the thought of bundling up the children one more time to go to the gym is likely to result in a mental breakdown. Or whatever. This is something that has been on my list of things I can blog about since I started The Mother Runner six months ago. But since I am never as on top of this blog as I hope to be, I have only rarely touched on this issue. And let’s be honest here: I am learning from you as I am going. I don’t have all (any?) answers. But I do like to talk about things and to hear what works for other people. With that in mind, here are some ideas for rainy day sanity savers that could be fun for the kiddos, too. (Unless your sanity requires that the kiddos be absent, and then I think you should call your best friend/nearest neighbor, arrange a baby-sitting swap, and go for a run):

Your favorite workout video. It’s nice to have one (or two) on hand just for those days when you really can’t motivate yourself to do anything — or you can’t gather your thoughts enough to make any decisions. Pop in the video and someone else can tell you what to do. I have a Billy Blank’s Tae-bo DVD (with the basic, advanced, and 8-minute work-out) on my shelf. I can’t do it without remembering all the good times in college with my roommates all begging Billy to please pull up his singlet just a little bit more. I also have The Perfect Pregnancy Workout for . . . when I’m pregnant. And if I’m not pregnant, I’ve likely loaned it out to someone else. Please share any other favorite work-out videos you would recommend.

Dance Party! I was only half kidding when I mentioned that yesterday. I’ve done it a couple of times and it’s been fun. The challenges I have are 1. I have two boys who both want to dance with me. 2. I can only hold one of them off for so long. (Neither is very good at taking turns — yet.) 3. Dancing with two little boys underfoot can get tiresome/frustrating/not as fun very quickly. But I imagine it will be more fun as they get older. This may end up being much more for them than for you.

Use YouTube. I always always always forget that YouTube is actually much more than the latest viral video. There are tutorials and how-tos up the wazoo. Kathleen was kind enough to point out that there are also an abundance of exercise videos. I haven’t done much poking around there yet, but Kathleen mentioned Yogatoday as a place to start. I bet it would be a good way to check out some different kinds of workouts (pilates, yoga, kickboxing, tai chi) to see if you are really interested, or to familiarize yourself before you decide to take a class. I also bet you’ll have a little someone (or two or three little someones) shadowing you as you go.

Mommy and Me Yoga. I know at some gyms in Brooklyn they actually offer Mommy and Me classes. Not at my gym. But that doesn’t mean that Manchild isn’t interested in some Mommy and Manchild Yoga. I taught him a few poses one time (downward facing dog, triangle, child’s pose) and he went to town. We were doing the elephant upside-down bridge and the chiggaloo twist and who knows what else. Good times.

Runner’s World 7-minute warm-up. Do it 3 or 4 times in a row. It’ll get your heart pumping and the sweat dripping. And it’s even more fun if the kids try to hop around with you. I think it counts for double points if you all end up on the floor in a heap of laughter.

Get some friends together. This may be slightly impractical in a place like New York, but if you have a living room larger than your couch, invite some friends to come workout with you. I know I feel a little silly doing exercises by myself in my living room. There is strength in feeling silly together. And also, you get to socialize. Conversing with other adults can do as much for your sanity as a good run. Plus, you can rotate who gets to pick what kind of exercise to do. Those who aren’t leading can bring the post-workout cookies. Hahaha.

Toning. Every now and then I’ll find myself lying on the floor, in my pajamas, doing crunches. I don’t know what brings it on, or if I even thought to do it. It seems like it just happens. And then I’ll do some push-ups. The push-ups lead to lunges, which turn into leg lifts, which become tricep dips and then squats and then more sit-ups and then the plank hold and then some single-leg squats. And then I do it over again. And then one more time for good measure. And then I go take a shower. The boys are generally puzzled and stare in amazement as I breathlessly count while lying on my side lifting my leg into the air. That image is probably why I don’t think too much about it. I just let my body do it because it feels good.

Stretching. I know this is often part of yoga and other workouts, but I thought I would throw it in by itself. It’s such a quick and easy thing to just sit down on the floor with the kids, legs together, and touch your toes. And then spread your legs and do it again. Or stand up and do the same thing. I don’t have any special stretches to share at this time . . . but maybe I’ll look into that. It’s good to get the blood flowing and to help your body feel less . . . snowed in.

I’ve exhausted my ideas. But I’m sure there are more snowy/rainy day activities that I haven’t thought of, but you have. Don’t be shy about sharing them, please! Just add a comment.

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  1. Thanks my dear this was just perfect and although I am sure you didn’t write it just for me I do feel so catered to right about now! I promise not to let it go to my head, but golly gee thanks!


    lizzie Reply:

    I hope it helps! There were several other people that have been asking about similar things, but your e-mail was definitely the clincher. Thanks for getting me to finally do it!


  2. I was going to say all the things you mentioned! Also, sometimes Asher and I just start jumping and playing crazy. This really gets the heart-rate up! I say, “Rough and tumble…it’s not just for Dad anymore!”


    lizzie Reply:

    So true. Why don’t we wrestle more often? It’s good times all around.


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