Find missing shoe, wipe snotty nose, drive to swim team practice, get dinner on the table—when it comes to doing things for others, moms are the best! And if you happen to be a mom, you might find the hours you spend focussing on your family leaves little time to devote to yourself. (Especially when you’ve got other tasks on your plate—here’s looking at you, nine-to-five gig). But putting your loved ones first doesn’t have to mean putting yourself last.
It’s like the message in the safety video on an airplane, played just before takeoff: You have to put the oxygen mask on yourself first, before helping the passenger next to you. Mama, if you want to keep being your family’s Wonder Woman, you’ve got to take care of YOU, too.
Here’s how to carve out some precious “me” time, and prioritize your health and fitness goals—for at least 15 minutes a day.
6 Ways Moms Can Carve Out Time for Exercise
Do you first. Make checking off a workout your first priority by doing it right when you wake up. It might mean a schedule shift, but it’s worth it! Go to sleep when the kiddos do, then rise and sweat before they climb out of bed in the morning. (Create a Sleep Schedule in your Fitbit app to get bedtime reminders and a gentle vibration when it’s time to wake up.)
Sync with your kid’s schedule. Does your son have karate on Tuesday evenings? Great! Let him know you’ll be there to cheer him on at the beginning and end of each class. And in the middle, while he’s punching, blocking, and kicking, you can hit up the gym or studio next door for some action of your own. Or just go for a brisk walk around the parking lot.
Always wear sneakers. One kid’s in soccer, the other plays tee-ball, and they both have tournaments this Saturday. Time to map out the ball fields. Are they within half a mile from each other? You can rack up the steps hoofing it back and forth. Not even close? Offset all that time in the driver’s seat by walking around the fields instead of joining other parents on the sidelines. Bonus points for recruiting another mom to be your walking buddy!
Hire a babysitter already. Yes, they’re expensive (anywhere from $10 to $20 an hour, depending on where you live) but an hour to yourself for exercuse—even if it’s just once a week—can make a big difference for your health and fitness, and if you’re a new mom it can also help you beat the baby blues. An analysis of 12 published research studies found that exercise can boost mood and improve well-being in mothers dealing with postpartum depression. So book that sitter and sign up for a Zumba or spin class—stat!
Negotiate a workout-trade deal. Whether it’s with your partner or with a friend who also has a rug rat, create a babysitting-swap schedule that allows each of you time to work out. Even better, host a play date that doubles as a solo sweat session. Simply get the kids together for a couple of hours and trade-off keeping an eye on the littles, giving each mom at least 30 minutes to workout.
Make me time out of we time. Since the invention of the jogging stroller in 1983, countless moms (and dads!) have been able to workout with their kids. But what happens if your little isn’t a fan of long rides? Give them a destination they can get excited about—like that playground across town with the awesome twisty slide! And when you get there, don’t just sit on a bench and scroll through your phone—hit up the monkey bars, and play! Baby too small to strap into a jogger? Stay in your living room or head to the backyard and do a 7-minute HIIT workout featuring do-anywhere moves that use your tyke instead of a dumbbell—it’s a great way to bond!
With a little creativity and a touch of “It’s Mama time!” attitude, you can come up with loads of ways to get moving. Your body will thank you, and—once they see how much healthier and happier you are—your family will, too.
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.