How to Maintain an Active Lifestyle as a Stay at Home Mom

This post was sponsored by KaiaFit. All opinions are my own.

Before having kids, I was a pretty active person. I was a semi-avid (Is that a thing?) runner who had run two half marathons. Almost every chance we got, we were out hiking, at the beach (when we lived closer) or finding ways to be outdoors. We loved a good binge sesh (It was on DVD back then LOL!), but the inactivity was always balanced with lots of activity. AJ and I always talked about how we wanted to continue that when we had kids. We wanted being active and making healthy choices to be something our kids just always remember doing as a family, so that hopefully an active lifestyle would become a lifelong habit when they were older.

Heather doing a push up with her feet on a box at Kaia Fit

Well. Fast forward to life with two toddlers.

These kids do not quit, so check and double check on the active lifestyle part. We definitely have our fair share of screen time, because it is 2019, but we feel like we have achieved a healthy balance between the two.

One thing I never really considered was how I would maintain an active lifestyle for myself. Prior to having kids, I just figured I’d breastfeed and that would take care of the baby weight. I’d play with my kids and chase them around and that would be the proper amount of activity and I’d be back in those jeans in no time. Plus, eating well was super important to me, so I’d just keep doing that.

I’ll give you a minute to laugh.

No one ever talked about how even after your 6 week postpartum check up, running would still feel funny, or that breastfeeding requires an  industrial strength sports bra. There was definitely no mention of the fact that some babies hate being strapped in a stroller more than anything else in the world or that if you “nap when the baby naps” as everyone suggested, there would be no chance to get a workout in or cook all those healthy meals you planned on. Don’t even get me started on how some babies never sleep, which means Mom never, ever sleeps. Then, you have toddlers with nap schedules, preschool drop offs, laundry to switch and a dinner plan to think about and oh forget it- I’ll just try again tomorrow.

It took me a long time to realize that if I wanted to be an example of an active adult for my kids, I was going to have to make it a priority. The stars were never going to align so I’d be able to do all. the. things. I was always going to be tired, the kids were always going to monopolize my time, my husband’s work schedule will never be consistent and there will always be a million things that need my attention or excuses if I wanted to find them.

I got to a point where I was tired of waiting for the perfect time to work out or meal plan. It was making me very unhappy to be carrying extra weight and I was putting the blame in all the wrong places. I was channeling my inner Liz Lemon and talking to food about my problems far too often.

So here are all my tips for creating and maintaining a routine for an active lifestyle as a mom.

Heather and Brittany doing planks at Kaia Fit

Schedule your workouts. This one has been so huge for me. I’ve heard this advice a million times and it was definitely harder when my kids were smaller. Some days you never know if the baby is going to nap or if your toddler is going to have an epic tantrum right as the workout class is starting. But, now that I’m working out at Kaia FIT and they are only running classes at specific times, I have to schedule them. I really thought this would be my biggest obstacle at Kaia, but, honestly, it’s been the biggest win.

My biggest excuse was always getting out the door. Not only did I have to hype myself up to go to the gym, but getting two kids out the door too was insurmountable some days. By scheduling my workout, I’ve eliminated that time each morning in my pajamas with my coffee because I’ve already trained my brain that working out is just apart of the routine and I’m dressed and ready to go before I can even think twice.

Find a gym or activity that will keep you interested. This was running for me for a long time. But, it’s gotten harder for many different reasons to count on running with the kids. Moods, flat tires, weather, appointments, timing, you name it, it’s been an obstacle. Not to mention the weight of pushing two toddlers! Working out at KaiaFIT has been such a game changer. The workouts are always different, so I don’t know what to expect and, therefore, have no time to dread it and find a way to bail. The coaches are so great and welcoming and the atmosphere is one of community, motivation and meeting you at your level. You can read more about our experience at KaiaFIT here.

Pick an activity you can do with the kids or a place they will be content and entertained while you work out. I have this mom fantasy where I go for a run sans stroller while both my kids safely ride their bikes along side me. My kids understand basic safety in this fantasy and I don’t ever have to yell “Get out of the street!” or “CARRR!” But, until that magical day comes, Kaia has been a godsend. The day care is run by other Kaia members who are moms themselves. This has been such a game changer for me because, as you may know if you’ve been around for any amount of time, my kids are a handful. Having another mom with them gives me so much piece of mind because I know they have first hand experience dealing with kids and know the workout style. They know they only have to occupy my kids for an hour and don’t come get me every time Nolan snatches a toy. I used to be so distracted and unmotivated when we were at the big box gym. The staff was undertrained and unexperienced and I never knew if I’d get 15 minutes or an hour before they couldn’t handle it anymore. Now I’m able to focus entirely on my workout because I’m confident with the care my kids are in.

Pick an excuse/chore/’have to” or two to let go. I love a clean, tidy house. No sink full of dishes, no dog hair tumble weeds rolling across the floor, clean bathrooms. Dinner prepped to avoid the 5pm witching hour. A clean, organized house gives my anxiety seeking brain such a sense of calm. I used to put so much effort into staying on top of the mess for my sanity and it was an excuse to skip a workout. Then I realized that it’s a losing battle. With two kids under 5 and a dog in the house, it will never be clean. Once I eased up on my cleaning routine and started working out more, I realized I was getting that same peace of mind I’d get from cleaning. Obviously, I still clean the house, but it’s on a much more lax schedule and I don’t feel so stressed because I’ve worked out. Look at whatever you are using as an excuse to skip a workout and see how you can lower your expectations.

Another thing I’ve let go that used to stand in my way of working out is showering. Now hear me out! I still shower, I promise. But I used to get so caught up on having to shower immediately after working out, which meant working out needed a two hour chunk of time (an hour for the workout and an hour for the shower and getting ready). I don’t know about you, but it’s almost impossible to find a consecutive two hour chunk of time in my day. I also realized that doing your hair is really pointless most days, especially if you’re going to work out again the next day. So, instead I go and workout according to when it fits my schedule and shower later in the day. It’s not as big of a deal as I had once planned and if there is something I need to be presentable for, I still factor in shower time. But more often than not, there’s no harm in waiting a few hours until the kids are parked in front of the TV with lunch so I can sneak away.

Ask if it’s an excuse or a legit reason. As a stay at home mom, I live and die by my kid’s schedules. Four years in and I’m just now feeling like I have enough wiggle room to dedicate to myself and being healthy again. I truly couldn’t have done this when my kids were any younger. Isla’s behavior therapy schedule alone made even grocery shopping next to impossible for a good chunk of time not that long ago. It was really difficult because I’d play the comparison game. A friend with kids my kids’ age would run a marathon or lose a bunch of weight and I’d put so much pressure on myself to do the same things. My kids are very high needs, AJ’s job is very demanding and we just don’t have the kind of support that would make training for a marathon feasible, then or now.

It’s true that where there’s a will there’s a way, and I really would love to run a marathon some day, but at this point in my life it’s not going to happen. And that’s okay! These are all very legit reasons. But what I’ve learned is to change my expectations so that those reasons don’t become an excuse. No, I cannot dedicate the time needed to run a marathon. That doesn’t mean I can’t workout at all. I just needed to find the right fit for my life right now.

Give yourself grace. If life is too chaotic to devote to a strict workout routine, that’s 100% fine! Make one little goal each day. For a long, long time the only fitness I could commit to was to get out for a walk every day. I hated that it was such a small goal because physically I knew I was capable of so much more. But, with two cranky kids, therapy schedules, preschool and all the other things, it was the only attainable thing. And walking burns a surprising amount of calories and does wonders for your mental health!

I do acknowledge that because I am a stay at home mom, I have a little bit more flexibility than a working mom. So, if you’re a working mom reading this, just know I see you and I recognize the obstacle that working outside the home presents.

Whatever is standing between you and an active lifestyle won’t be an obstacle forever. So just do what you can, where you’re at, with what you have. Maybe that means cooking one extra day a week instead of ordering take out. Maybe that’s a family hike on Saturday. Whatever you can add in will build momentum to a more active lifestyle and before you know it, it will become more of a habit for you and your family!

What is one way you promote a healthy, active lifestyle for your family? We’d love to hear more tips on how you squeeze it in!

What do you think? Leave a comment!

  • I love this! I have started scheduling my gym time this year and it has made a HUGE difference in how I feel (and actually getting a god workout in! These are all really great tips!

    • Isn’t it funny how something that simple works?! My biggest challenge with being a SAHM is that we have no real schedule. I love that this gives us a reason to get out of the house!

  • Great post! Some days I wish I could stay at home, but I work. So I started doing yoga once a week and it’s was a huge relief to get away for an hour and have it alone!! It’s so important to stay active!!

  • Love this! After having my little one 5 months ago its been soooo hard to get back into it and I was really active before. I am going to try scheduling a time to work out I think that might work for me.