Before I had a baby, I wouldn’t even have thought “having no time to workout” was a thing. I mean, if your health is important, won’t you make time for working out?
And then came Brielle.
When I got pregnant in early 2016, we had just bought a major fixer-upper house, were trying to get out of our townhouse, and I was too sick to help. Erik found himself trying to take care of everything–moving us, cleaning up the townhouse, renovating the new house so we could get in–the gym was far from his mind.
And once we were in the new house we had so many projects to do that Erik found himself too busy for the barbell. Of course, I wasn’t worth much for helping him at the time so he was still doing everything on his own.
Once Brielle was born–don’t laugh–but we were both shocked at how little you could accomplish with a new baby. I mean, don’t they just sleep and eat? What else is there to do? It’s ok–laugh.
Time Management is Hard
What I’m getting at here is that being new parents–trying to figure out this new way of life is tough. And while I’m home most of the day with Brielle and can take her with me to the gym in between her nap times, for Erik, gym time isn’t that easy. By the time he’s home from work (which most days isn’t until after five or six o’clock), he’s not only exhausted, but I’m ready for his help with the baby! I love that little girl more than life, but momma needs help sometimes. (Ok, all the time.) And when Erik is done with work, I want him to spend time with his daughter before she goes to bed. I want him to build blocks on the floor so I can sit in peace for five minutes with my eyes closed. I want to take walks with the family or cook dinner together or just anything where I’m not the only person in charge of keeping our mini-human alive.
Erik, unfortunately, foregoes his time at the gym so he can continue to help me and spend quality time with his baby girl. Obviously, right?
So where does this leave him on gym time? And how can I get all you busy parents to find time for your workouts?
- Get up earlier. If you’re not a morning person (my hubby definitely is NOT), then this is the worst option ever, but may be the only doable one. Erik’s gym opens at 5. If he worked out from 5:15-6:15 and was home by 6:30 (when he normally wakes up) he’d have his workout done for the day and could still get to work on time. This means I’ll be pushing him out of bed around 4:45/5am. But it could work.
- Go to the gym at lunch. This would never work for Erik (he’s a high school teacher with a 20-minute lunch) but it does work for others–I see it every day. I coach a lot of 11:30 and noon CrossFit classes and believe me–it can be done. Come in, workout, eat your lunch after your workout–in the car if need be–and get back to work. Talk to your boss about making sure you have enough time to get to the gym and back–many employers enjoy seeing their employees healthy, active, and happy.
- Workout before you come home. Now personally, I want Erik to come home as soon as he can, but what if he was able to manage his time better? Erik stays after school (when he isn’t coaching) to grade papers, work on lesson plans, do all the teacher things that no one notices and appreciates. What if instead, on those days he wasn’t coaching, he left school at 3:30, went straight to the gym, and was still home between five and six? He could bring his papers home and grade/lesson plan AFTER Brielle went to bed.
- Hit the gym late. For night owls like Erik, this might be the winner. Brielle goes to sleep (typically) between 7-8pm. His gym has a 24/7 access room that’s open all night. Instead of hanging on the couch with me, why not hit the gym then? I know, like most of you, you’re exhausted at this point and motivation is low, but this is where you dig deep and tell yourself that living a long and healthy life for your children matters more than your current state of exhaustion. The only setbacks to working out so late are eating dinner even later (no one wants to lift on a full belly or go to bed on one either) and revving up your body from exercise might make falling asleep harder. A late dinner though isn’t as bad as what we tend to think–especially if it’s a healthy dinner, and sometimes a hard gym session wears us out and helps us sleep. If you’re a night owl, it’s worth trying.
- Do something at home. Now if you’re like Erik and me, you may hate working out at home. But you also may find yourself realizing you have no other options. I have worked out in the living room while baby girl naps, and Erik has been known to do a few stretches and push-ups now and then. Crazy enough, we have several kettlebells, a couple dumbbells, resistance bands, and a TRX. Theoretically, we could get sh*t done if we wanted. This is where our desire to be healthy should be prioritized over thinking “but I’m not actually in a gym!” Erik could easily get up in the morning and do some stretches and resistance band work. Later after Brielle goes to sleep he could bust out some kettlebells and do some strength work while grilling or watching ESPN. It’s a different feeling from being in the gym, but it can be done.
- Maximize your weekends! If you miss a day during the work-week, find a couple hours on the weekend. My CrossFit box offers two classes on Saturday mornings and Erik’s gym is open all day on Saturday. Sure, we have plans many weekends, but that doesn’t mean he can’t get up, grab some coffee, and haul it to the gym for an hour or so.
Just Do It.
Working out when you’re a busy parent is tough. It’s been almost two years now since we first bought our house and we’re still renovating, now raising a now 9 month old, and trying to run an internet business. We understand. We’re still figuring things out ourselves. But we know our health is a major priority and we not only want to live long for our baby girl, but we want her to grow up seeing her parents taking care of themselves. She is our motivation and we owe it to her. So we will find the time. Will you?