How to stay active with young children

It seems odd to write a post on how to stay active with young children because me, having two kids I feel that I am CONSTANLY on the go.

…And honestly I often use this as an excuse NOT to work out.

Want to go to the gym- Oh, I can’t I have the kids.

Want to go for a run- Eek, we’re in the middle of having a snack, maybe next time!

There’s a new Crossfit class at the local gym- my kids woke me up at 5 am and I am too exhausted. Ask me again in five years.

Sound familiar?

I know a lot of moms who benefit with working out/staying active at home over going to gyms or classes for the two following reasons:

  1. They have a hard time getting a sitter-

Whether you don’t have access easily to a sitter, can’t afford one, or just don’t want to waste prime kid free time on going to work out and all that it entails, learning to work your way to a more active lifestyle with kids in tow is a great option.

I know when I have a sitter, exercise usually comes second to showering uninterrupted, taking a nap, watching tv in my underwear, linking up with friends for early bird drink specials- or other things that I can’t always do with my kids.

      2. They want to spend more time with their kids-

Sometimes after working 40 hour weeks, the last thing I want to do is pick my kids up from the sitter and drop them off to another sitter to go work out. I miss them. And working out together can be a really fun experience. Plus, it will tire them out and they might even go to bed early.

I have three go-tos for staying active at home:

  1. At home work out videos

The hardest part about doing at home work outs for me is finding ones that not only work for me, but organizing them to have any kind of routine to stay consistent.

Personally, I love Jillian Michaels 30 day shred videos because the workouts are only around 35 minutes start to finish and the only equipment you need is a pair of light dumbbells and a mat if you’re working out on a hard floor. My girls love this workout as well. If your kids are too young to try to follow along, this is an easy one to work into your schedule that is doable while baby is napping or playing on a floor toy nearby.  

My second pick for structured at home workouts would be Beachbody On Demand. This one is a little more costly because you subscribe for monthly, quarterly, or yearly workouts. They have a wide variety of workout plans based on fitness level, they offer several different plans (Yoga, CrossFit, etc) and you can browse by types or lengths of the workouts. I like Beachbody because it is all laid out for you in a sequence that is easy to follow, so there’s no prep. There is also a ton of variety so you don’t get bored.

They do offer a totally free 2 week trial for new customers if you want to see if it’s worth your time or money.

Bonus: they have a collection of super fun kid videos built in if you need to wear your kids out but are stuck in the house

There are also literally dozens of free workout channels on YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram.

My favorite Youtube videos are anything Zumba- it’s great cardio and my kids get to either join in or sit in the back and laugh at my attempts at remembering the steps.

  1. Chase your kids around outside

I’m sure you’ve read the stories about the moms who go to the park and do squats, planks, pushups, etc. while their kids run off their energy. I am not that mom. I like to do structured exercise in the comfort of my air conditioned home.

Not all exercise has to be structured planking and squatting. Getting outside and just playing/chasing is still beneficial and can burn significant amounts of calories.

Go to a park and push them on the tire swing until your arms are about to fall off.  Climb to the top of the slides with them. Ass is too big to go down the slide? Well, I’ve been there. All the more reason to be climbing it. Plus your kids will enjoy laughing at you while they try to help wiggle you free. 

And yes I would rather have my ass wedged in a slide than do pushups at the park.

Don’t have access to a park? That’s ok. Play tag. Play hopscotch. Play Red Rover (is this still a thing?). After all, when is the last time you got to clothesline your kid. (JK… kind of)

  1. Go for a nature walk or hike

This one is my favorite. I LOVE to be outside. The fresh air and sunshine make it feel less like exercise and more like fun, and my kids enjoy it too. On weeknights, you can usually find us at local parks that offer smaller trails near streams. We get to see wild animals, beautiful sights, and even collect every single rock, leaf, and acorn that catches the girl’s eyes along the way.

 I also really love exploring nearby state parks. This is better suited for a Saturday or Sunday because we can often make a day out of it. My favorite nearby is in Indy near Eagle Creek State Park. They offer amazing sites, paddle boating, and several trails that are easy enough for my kids to do and exciting enough to hold their attention (most of the time).

How to avoid an impending meltdown while hiking with your kids

I can usually distract my kids by letting them pet a passerby’s dog (we pass a new dog every 10-15 minutes on average), and I always try to bring bug catchers to let them looks for roly-poly’s, frogs, etc. to catch and examine (Yes we release them before we go home).

Otherwise, I usually have a few small packs of goldfish or granola bars in my backpack and that can usually perk them up.

What to do when your kid is having a meltdown the distractions don’t work

You’re halfway through a trail and your kid becomes slower and slower. Her eyes glaze over and she is shooting you dirty looks anytime you try to point out a dog. She tells you she actually HATES goldfish. You know its coming and you have a 20 minute walk before you get back to your car. She crosses her arms and sits down in the middle of the trail.

Now what?

Well, you can’t win them all. Try to view this as an opportunity. Do you want to carry your sweaty, dirty, whining 30+ pound toddler uphill while listening to her sibling complain that it’s not fair that she still has to walk? Hell no. But think of all the extra calories you’re burning.

Now this counts as tomorrow’s work out too.


Of course there are a TON more ways to incorporate more exercise into your life, these are just my top three favs!

Whatever you decide to do to stay active with your kiddos, just remember to find something that works for your family and try to enjoy it! The days are too chaotic already without adding another task that you dread, plus if you’re enjoying yourself, the kids will take notice and learn to have fun through fitness as well.


What are your favorite ways to stay active as a mom with young kiddos at home? Contact me, I’d love to hear from you!



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