I’ve got 5 kids ages 9, 7, 6, 4, 3. People ask me constantly how I manage to do it all. Caring for them requires a great deal of time, effort and energy, but I’ll be honest, the magic to making it all work is planning ahead.
Now, you might be thinking, “I’m busy, Christmas is just around the corner! I don’t have time to think about exercise, nor do I care to because I want to enjoy all of the good food for now! There’s gifts to buy, shopping to be done, meals to make and plans to finalize. Who has time to think about a gym right now?….”
Trust me! I know! I’ve been there! And I think you SHOULD enjoy it for now! But if you are serious about getting in shape and you are tired of just floating by and seeing nothing happen, then I cannot encourage you enough to make a plan.
You’ve got approximately 5 weeks until the New Year. Most gyms offer big incentives to get you to sign up in January. Now is the time to start scoping them out. Now is the time to start looking ahead at next year’s budget to see if there is a way to rearrange some things if need be.
Now is the time to put your plan in place.
In recent posts I’ve written about my motives and motivations in staying fit and working out. I’ve also openly shared about the fears, hesitations and distractions that sometimes hold me back. I’ve been honest about what supplements I use to aid and speed up my progress. Now I begin the conversation about the practical method of how I make the time to stay consistent as a busy mom of five little people.
****Let me throw out this disclaimer: I am not a nutrition specialist or certified fitness instructor. I have no credentials and all I know has been self-taught. But I’ll humbly offer you what I have. I’ll share with you what does, and doesn’t, work for me, and I’ll attempt to help you along in your own journey in any way that I am able.
1. THE VENUE: I used to workout at home. I purchased a few dumbbells and a few video programs that I could do during my babies’ nap times, or whenever there was down time during the day. But for me this method is a slower one by way of results. With how many children I now have, four of whom no longer nap, as well as the goals I have regarding fitness, I now need to go to an actual gym.
Gone are the days when I can accomplish much of anything on my own at home! The constant interruptions and lack of consistency on my part made the progress slow and my motivation drop off fast. Rather than keep spinning my wheels while feeling like I’m going nowhere, I knew I needed to find a different plan.
Now, at home workouts are still VERY do-able!!! Don’t get me wrong! But the same is true for home workouts as gym workouts: Both require a solid plan and a strong effort at staying consistent.
As a couple, Matt and I made some major cuts in our budget in some other ares to be able to afford a gym membership. In our minds, staying consistent and motivated and putting our health as a top priority was worth missing out on a few other “extras.”
2. FINDING/PICKING A GYM: As I was in the process of looking for a gym, I had certain criteria in my mind that would suit the whole family, rather than just me. I ended up choosing one that was my second choice but had a great childcare room, with a huge play structure, large open windows (so I can check on them any time I desire), and workers that were friendly and attentive (yes, I went to meet them before I committed to a contract).
The kids love going. They make new friends each time they are there, and by the time I come back to pick them up they, too, are sweaty from having played the entire time!
3. HOW TO PLAN: Before having kids it never donned on me that planning a time to workout was needed. But now there is no way for me to stay consistent without a plan! I have created rhythms in my week to allow for the time, literally scheduling them on my calendar the same as a dentist or hair appointment (and you KNOW I’d never miss a hair appointment!!!). When people ask me if I’m busy during those scheduled times I say yes, and I pick another time with that person. I treat the gym as if it’s an appointment that cannot be moved except for something major. Every day is different. Every month is different. I map out the specific workouts on specific days as I work around the needs of my family. Sometimes I have to wake up early, other days it is mid-morning, and other times it is late in the evening after all five kids are in bed.
4. WORKOUT BUDDY: For many, having a workout buddy, friend, or partner is a wonderful idea. Having someone to meet up with to help motivate you and keep you accountable is something I would highly recommend should you desire that. But for me in this season of my life, I cannot consider that an option.
Not only is my schedule so unpredictable, but when I am at the gym I am really not very social or up for chit chat anymore.
The way I see it is if I’ve gone through all of the work to plan that time, to get everyone dressed, fed, happy, out the door, buckled into their carseats, from the car into the gym, and checked in to childcare, then I’m for sure going to use that one hour to the absolute max that I am able.
I want to leave there knowing without a doubt that I gave it my all.
Because of the pace and demands in the other areas of my life, I now see gym time as a ‘no joke, no mess around, no play time, no fluff, all business’ kind of appointment.
5. WHEN THE PLAN FAILS (BECAUSE IT OFTEN DOES!): There are times when the plan works and there are many, many times when it doesn’t. What might take one woman 6 weeks to accomplish in the gym might take me double. My family will always come first. The minute one child has even the slightest runny nose I am unable to keep my plans the way I would want. When one of my kids has any need whatsoever in the childcare room, you can surely bet I am being called out on the intercom to come get them.
That’s where plan B, C, and so on…come in. When something comes up I don’t look at it as not getting “MY” time in, for that would create frustration or resentment toward those I love most. My family comes before my fitness schedule. But instead of giving up, I reset, rearrange, and look for other ways to make things work.
6. BACK UP PLANS: My backup options include the stash of old workout videos (ex: TaeBo, Slim-in-6, P90X, The Firm) that I’ve collected over the years. I also highly recommend an app that I have on my phone called Sworkit. It’s super cheap (I think it’s only $1.99), very easy to use and highly customizable. It’s especially awesome when you have no equipment or if you travel. I also use the free YouTube videos I’ve pinned on my fitness Pinterest board. And if all of that fails, I use the park across the street from my house where I can take the kids out to run with me. Bottom line is, I cannot and WILL NOT bend my priorities of Jesus, husband, and kiddos in order to get or stay fit, but I will try every means possible to get those workouts in!
7. PROGRESS: Having a plan and sticking to it will bring results! Maybe you won’t see them all at once, but after some time you’ll be surprised at how far you’ve actually come!
Shortly after my last child was born my #3 kiddo began kindergarten. Every single day as he exited his classroom his eyes would find mine and he would run as fast as he could toward me, jump into my arms, and give me the biggest hug he could muster up! And every day I would plant my feet and pray that he wouldn’t knock me over! Although my heart’s desire was to hold him and embrace every bit of those insanely special moments, my arms and core were too weak to do so. I would quickly have to put him back down and finish our hug on the ground. Granted, he’s heavy, but to me that wasn’t enough of an excuse. I wanted to hold him and not have to put him down until he asked!
Little by little, bit by bit, gains and progress were made. Although I’m still a work in progress, I can now say that I am able to see a big difference in my abilities and strength!
I know what it’s like to feel like a total newbie, so I’ll share more soon about the actual plan I used to grow my knowledge and comfort level in the gym. And I’ll also share the workout schedule I maintain now on a day to day basis…
Are you ready to put a plan together? What’s holding you back? Are there specific questions you have concerning more of the “how”? Do you have your own fitness goals? How can I help you reach them? What ways have you been able to make time for fitness while juggling a busy schedule?
Comment below, I’d love to hear from you!