How to Find Time to Workout as a Busy Mom: 11 Tried & True Tips

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We all know that exercise is important, but we often struggle to find the TIME! In this article, I’m sharing 11 of my favorite tips on how to find time to workout as a busy mom.

Whether you’re struggling to balance your job and family life, you work from home, or you stay at home with the kids and never have a moment to yourself, the tips in this post will help you finally make time to exercise.

How to Find Time to Workout as a Busy Mom: 11 Tried & True Tips

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11 Tips on How to Find Time to Workout as a Busy Mom

It’s probably happened to you too.

You’ve made the commitment to start exercising. You’ve found a few promising workouts and even bought a new sports bra and tennis shoes.

But they never see the light of day because you just can’t find the time. Between dirty dishes, homework, and someone always needing to be fed, you blink and your day is gone.

As a mom, someone always needs you for something. But, if you want to improve your fitness it’s going to mean learning how to find time to exercise despite all the craziness.

In this post, I’m going to cover how I find time to exercise as a busy mom. We’ll cover these 11 tips:

  1. Embrace home workouts
  2. Include Your Kids
  3. How to keep your kids busy so you can workout
  4. Keep your expectations realistic and be flexible
  5. Have a workout plan
  6. Keep it interesting and fun
  7. Wake up early(ish)
  8. Keep it short but intense
  9. Decide what you’re willing to trade for workout time
  10. Get creative
  11. Get your family on a schedule

These are all things I’ve done over the years to make sure I get those workouts in, despite the demands of being a busy mom. You can pick and choose the ones that work best for you and your family.

Ready to get started?

How Do Parents Find Time to Exercise?

Before we dive into how to find time to workout as a busy mom, I want to make it clear that it IS possible. Yes, you, with your crazy schedule and demanding children can find time to exercise.

It just might look a little different than what you’re used to.

As parents, we aren’t always able to hit the gym whenever we want. Being able to exercise as a parent often means fitting it in around your children’s schedule and needs.

It looks very different than how people without kids exercises. A friend of mine loves to take mountain bike rides on local trails in our area.

I always see their Facebook posts and imagine how fun that would be. But with 3 kids and zero childcare, I know that’s not a good option for me.

I have to take into account our family schedule, how long my kids can actually entertain themselves, and who’s going to keep them from doing something crazy while I exercise.

As a mom, your workouts look a little different, but you can still get them done, and that’s all that matters. 💪

Here are some of the tips that have worked for me…

90 day Fitness Planner and Tracker

1. Embrace Home Workouts

The easiest way to find time to exercise as a mom is to embrace home workouts. This has been the best way for me to exercise consistently as a mom.

I don’t have to worry about commuting to and from the gym and I can get up before my kids to exercise. I also don’t have to worry about childcare or waiting for my husband to come home to get it done.

And if for some reason, I have to exercise when my kids are awake, we have all their toys and everything needed to keep them entertained.

How to workout at home with kids

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when trying to exercising at home with your kids around:

  • Try to exercise before they wake up or during nap time.
  • Make sure everyone is well-fed to avoid snack interruptions.
  • Make the expectations clear with older kids. This is mom’s time and anything minor has to wait until the workout is over.
  • Set younger kids up with activities to keep them busy.

It might take some adjusting for everyone to learn that during your workout you won’t be available to help with every little thing, but they’ll learn.

After a few weeks, my kids realized that unless it was super important, they could wait the 20-30 minutes until I was done exercising.

How to prepare for a workout at home

When you’re trying to squeeze in workouts at home, the more prepared you are the better. If you’re like me, just finding the 20 minutes to exercise is challenge enough.

You don’t have extra time to spend “getting ready” to work out. I used to spend time scrolling through Pinterest looking for workouts.

Then I would scrounge through my drawers trying to find the right outfit.

By the time I was finally ready, I’d already wasted a good half hour and I would only get a few minutes into my workout before somebody needed something that just couldn’t wait.

Here are some ways to prepare for your workout, so when you finally get the time, you can get straight to exercising:

  • Plan when and how you will work out ahead of time.
  • Pick out your clothes the night before.
  • Have your workout saved and ready to go so you can easily find it.

The less you have to do to “get ready” to workout, the more likely you will be to actually get it done.

Home workout ideas

Here are some home workouts you can try:

Related Post: 8 At Home Beginner Workouts For Women (Without Equipment)

Family Friendly Yoga Routine: Triangle Pose Right Side

2. Include Your Kids

The next tip on how to find time to workout as a busy mom is to include your kids in your workout. You know the phrase “If you can’t beat them, join them”?

You can try applying that to your workouts. If you can’t find time away from your kids to exercise, do it with them.

This is a great idea for a couple of reasons. Firstly, you don’t have to worry about keeping them entertained, finding someone to take care of them, etc. That’s usually the hardest part about exercising as a parent.

Secondly, they will LOVE it. Most kids are always eager for more time with their parents. This means that they will typically jump on board with the idea of exercising with you.

How to workout with kids

There are a few ways you can easily work out with kids. Here are the ways I have tried that work the best:

  1. Play active games with them.
  2. Do family-friendly workouts.
  3. Let them jump in where they can.

Play active games with them.

A great way to work out with kids is to play a game or have a family sport. My family does Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and the kids absolutely love a chance to roll and train with us.

It’s one of my daughter’s favorite activities because of how much time she gets to spend with us and everyone gets a great workout in.

You can pick a sport that everyone would enjoy or even just play some games. Games like tag, climbing on the monkey bars, or something similar that gets your body moving will typically get the job done.

One time, we played a game called house tag where we all had to climb around like animals to catch each other. After 20 minutes I was out of breath, a little sore, and called that my workout for the day.

Do family-friendly workouts. 

Another great way to exercise with kids is to do family-friendly workouts. A lot of fitness trainers create workouts that are geared towards kids and families.

Here are a few you can check out:

Let them jump in where they can.

The last way I have tried working out with my kids is to just let them jump in where they can. If I’m jogging while they play at the park, I let them jog with me as long as they want.

When I’m doing a workout video at home, I let them exercise with me. They typically only stay interested during the easier videos/moves, but it still gets the job done.

They get to feel a part of what I’m doing and I get my workout done.

Related Post: 7 Quick Workout Ideas for Busy Moms on the Go

Building Your Best You - Fitness Motivation Ebook

3. How to Keep Your Kids Busy so You Can Workout

My next tip for how to find time to workout as a busy mom is to keep your kids busy while you exercise. Especially when you have younger kids at home, keeping them entertained and not climbing all over you is the hardest part.

I didn’t exercise much when my first child was young, but with my second two, I did. I had to get really good at keeping them busy if I was ever going to get a workout in.

How to find time to work out with a baby

When you have a baby at home, it can be a little trickier to find time to exercise. They typically can’t be left unattended and they usually need something pretty often.

Here are a few things you can try:

I find it best to keep my workouts short at this age and recognize that sometimes there will be interruptions. Maybe your baby just isn’t in the mood or you have to pause halfway through for diaper changes or a feeding.

All of that is just normal baby life. Pick back up if you can or resolve to try again tomorrow. Any attempt at exercising is better than nothing.

How to find time to workout with a toddler

With toddlers things get a little easier… and a little harder. Toddlers are better able to entertain themselves, but they’re also more mischievous lol.

At this age, you definitely want to take advantage of times that they’re safely occupied or make sure you set them up to be well entertained before you exercise.

When my kids were this age, I did a mix of having them entertained while I exercised and including them in my workouts.

Here are some tips to try:

  • Exercise during naptime or before they wake up in the morning.
  • Try a mom and toddler workout.
  • Try to get them to work out with you.
  • Use stroller workouts or go for a walk/jog.
  • Try special activities that you only pull out while you exercise to keep them entertained.

Just like almost anything you do with toddlers you’re going to have to go with the flow and accept that it might not work out exactly as you planned.

The point of exercising is to get some good movement in. As long as you’re doing that, it’s ok if it doesn’t go perfectly.

4. Keep Your Expectations Realistic and Be Flexible

An important thing to remember when you’re trying to fit in your workouts around your life as a busy mom is that you need to be flexible. Odds are pretty good things won’t always go according to plan.

During some of my workouts I’ve had to stop because of meltdowns, potty accidents, someone woke up unexpectedly from a nap, sibling fights, and plenty more. It’s frustrating sometimes, but that’s just life with kids.

It’s more important that you got up and tried to get your workout in than that it went exactly right.

They say the only bad workout is the one that didn’t happen. So it’s ok if you get interrupted 15 times and your 15-minute workout takes you 45 minutes to get done.

Or you only got halfway through because your baby woke up early from a nap or someone bumped their head. Remember, you accomplished more than if you didn’t try at all.

Printable Home Workouts

5. Have a Workout Plan

If you want to know how to find time to workout as a busy mom the best thing you can do is have a workout plan. A workout plan helps you decide ahead of time when, where, and how you will exercise.

Every Sunday, I sit down and decide which workouts I will do. I pick out which days and what time on those days I’ll exercise.

I even like to pick a couple of backup workout ideas in case things don’t go according to plan. (See tip 4 🙄) This has been a HUGE timesaver for me when it comes to exercising with my kids around.

When I get those spare few minutes to exercise, I don’t have to scroll Pinterest or YouTube looking for what workout to do. I just hit play and get it done.

It can be so easy to get distracted by all the demands on our time. If you don’t intentionally set aside time to exercise, it will all get spent on other things.

Next thing you know, you’ll be looking back on your day or your week and feeling frustrated because you didn’t get a chance to work out.

90 day Fitness Planner and Tracker

6. Keep it Interesting and Fun

Another tip for how to find time to workout as a busy mom is to keep your workouts fun. Most of us aren’t going to make time for things we don’t enjoy.

Ask me how long it takes me to make a dentist appointment. 🙈 We’re naturally inclined to avoid things we don’t like. 

So if you’re workouts are boring or too difficult, odds are pretty good you won’t “find the time” to do them.

Instead, pick ways to be active that you enjoy. Go for walks with other mom friends, try a new fitness class you think you’ll like, put some music on and dance around your living room…

How you exercise doesn’t have to look like how everyone else does it. As long as your moving your body and having fun, it’s going to get the job done.

And you’ll be a lot more likely to make time for it on a regular basis.

7. Wake Up Early(ish)

Something else to try when finding time to exercise as a busy mom is waking up earlier. When everyone is sleeping is typically the easiest time to exercise when you have kids.

I will admit that this one was tough for me in the beginning. My family is a bunch of night owls, and everyone goes to bed late and wakes up late.

This made it pretty tough for me to wrap my mind around the idea of waking up early to exercise. Once I started though, it became my favorite way to start the day.

I get my workout in, I get to spend a blissful 30 minutes without my kids needing something from me, and have more energy for the rest of my day.

If waking up early makes you cringe just thinking about it, here are some tips that can help:

  • Start with waking up 10 minutes earlier. Work your way up from there.
  • Pick something you enjoy doing.
  • Remind yourself how much easier it is to exercise earlier without kids interrupting you.
  • Create some sort of reward system. (non-food-related so you don’t undo all your hard work.)

How to Find Time to Workout as a Busy mom -

8. Keep it Short But Intense

Another great tip on how to find time to workout as a busy mom is to keep your workouts short but intense. Most of the moms I know don’t have time for long workouts.

Shoot, some days, it’s a stretch to find 20 minutes to exercise.

So instead, I try to focus on short workouts and just increase the intensity. My workout might only last 15 minutes, but I make all 15 minutes count.

Here are a few suggestions for upping the intensity of your workouts:

  • Try HIIT workouts (High Intensity Interval Training)
  • When using weights, do fewer reps, but use a heavier weight.
  • If running or walking, add in a few sprint intervals.

You can also try spreading your workouts out over several days. Instead of working out for 30-45 minutes a few times a week, I will often exercise for 15-20 minutes 5-6 days a week.

It’s a lot easier to find 15 minutes each day to workout than it is to find 30 minutes or longer even if it’s only a few days a week. Plus, it helps the kids and myself get more used to the routine of mom exercising.

9. Decide What You’re Willing to Trade for Workout Time

Something else I’ve learned about how to find time to workout as a busy mom is that sometimes you’re going to have to make a trade. Sometimes life is truly busy and you honestly can’t find a spare moment.

So then you need to decide what you’re willing to give up in order to have time to exercise. Are you willing to give up a few minutes of watching tv or scrolling through Facebook?

Are you willing to let the dishes sit on the table for a little while after dinner? For me, it was giving up a little bit of sleep and knowing that sometimes I was going to have to push the toys out of the way in the living room to do a home workout.

As moms, it can be really easy for us to put everyone’s needs before our own. We often feel like we can’t take time for ourselves unless our kids are occupied, the house is cleaned, our husband is happy, and there is nothing else that needs to be done.

I’m going to tell you right now, however, that’s never going to happen. In order for you to find time to exercise on regular basis, some stuff might have to wait a little bit.

But that’s ok! Exercising is a way to take care of your body and your health and you’re worth making the time.

10. Get Creative

Something else that works great for finding time to exercise as a busy mom is getting creative. Sometimes you gotta fit your exercise in however you can.

I’ve done pullups on the monkey bars while my kids were at the park and squats while pushing my son in the swing. I’ve walked around the field during soccer practice, and even did a full-body workout during some practices too.

My workouts don’t always look like what you would do in a gym, but I get some good movement in and it’s always better than doing nothing.

Even if you can’t manage to get a whole workout in, throughout the day you can probably find ways to do a few squats, lunges, or pushups here and there.

Doing a little bit throughout the day will add up to a surprising amount of exercise if you keep it up.

Building Your Best You - Fitness Motivation Ebook

11. Get Your Family on a Schedule

My last tip for how to find time to workout as a busy mom is to get your family on a schedule. When your overall day is more organized, it’s a lot easier to find time to exercise.

When you already know what time to get the kids ready, make dinner, get some chores done, etc., you’ll start to see the blocks of time that are available for you to exercise.

For example, I know I have a break in our day from 1:00-3:00. On the days I don’t do my workout in the morning, I know that’s the best time for me to fit it in during the afternoon.

Without a schedule, it can be really hard to make any sort of workout routine and follow through on it because you’ll always find something else important that will take up your time.

A schedule also helps your kids get used to you being “busy” with your workout and they will be less likely to interrupt you. (I would love to say they stop completely, but I don’t think that happens until they move out. 😂)

Stay at Home Mom Workout Schedule

Here is my workout schedule as a stay-at-home/work-from-home mom:

Stay At Home Mom Workout Schedule - How to find time to workout as a busy mom

Depending on my schedule for the day, I like to exercise first thing in the morning, or I fit it in during the afternoon. I won’t say that my day always goes exactly like this, but having a plan definitely helps me hit my goal of exercising far more often than if I didn’t have one at all.

Your schedule will probably look a bit different than mine, but that’s ok. Create what works for you and your family.

Conclusion to 11 Tips on How to Find Time to Workout as a Busy Mom

I hope these 11 tips on how to find time to workout as a busy mom will help you finally make exercise a regular part of your routine. I know it’s not easy, but it’s worth it!

If you know that time is only part of your struggle and you also have a hard time staying motivated to work out, check out my ebook Building Your Best You. It’s just for moms and it’s full of my best advice on how to stay motivated and get consistent with your workouts.

What do you think about these tips on how to find time to workout as a busy mom? Let me know in the comments below or email me at Candice@littlestepsbighappy.com. Follow me on Pinterest for more fitness tips and advice for moms.

Pin this for later!!👇👇

How to Find Time to Workout as a Busy Mom: 11 Tried & True Tips

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