This article was written by an 8fit team member – he’s an all-star dad who works hard to balance work, family life and staying active. Read the article below for his tips, then tell us how you balance being a parent and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Share your stories and tips on social media and tag 8fit!
Parenting is one of the toughest – and most rewarding – jobs on the planet. It takes time and energy, but the benefits are pretty amazing. As parents, we understand that we have a responsibility to raise intelligent, kind human beings and that, oddly enough, these little humans enjoy spending time with us.
With new responsibilities come new routines, but we learn to adapt quickly. We begin to use our time more wisely and multitask, and to be more self-disciplined when it comes to fitting in “me” time.
Staying fit as a busy parent
In my experience, one of the best ways to stay active as a parent is by doing fitness-related activities with your children – that way, both parties benefit. Here’s how to do this with children of different ages:
Baby to toddler
Think of how calm your child becomes when your strap them in the car seat for a drive, when you go for a walk in the stroller, when you pick them up to dance around the house, or when you bounce them on your knee – babies love to be on the move. Because of this, they’ll love being an accessory to your next workout.
There are a number of exercises you can safely do while holding your child like a weight. Here are some ideas (funny faces optional, but encouraged!):
- Squats, holding child at chest height
- Squat with push press, holding child at chest and then pressing overhead*
- Lunges, holding child at chest height
- Sumo squat, holding child at chest height
- Bear crawl, done with child
- Push-up with child on back (when your child is old enough to hold on)*
*Best done long after meal time.
This exercise time is beneficial for both parties – you’ll get a good sweat, and your child will enjoy the movement. You’ll also build strength and improve stability that will help you carry your child for longer periods of time while reducing the risk of your child developing conditions like container baby syndrome.
Young kids to teens
As children become stronger and more mobile, the number of activities you can do together increases. My advice: Don’t just sign your children up for sports – play sports with them! When sports are only played in a competitive atmosphere, children can sometimes lose enthusiasm over time. Make sure your children know that know not everything needs to be a competition and that sports are also an enjoyable way to stay healthy.
Communicate your fitness plan
What I find really useful is communicating with my children by telling them that “I plan to work out at home at lunchtime,” or that “I am going to do a workout in 1 hour.” I’ll then ask if they want to join or if they would rather I help them set up an activity for that time (e.g. coloring book, movie, homework, etc.). Another tip: If your child is joining your workout, start your workout with dynamic stretching, do exercises your child can complete at least 3-5 reps of, and always compliment their achievements to help build self esteem. Be sure to coach them through proper form and promote hydration post-workout as well. The best part: you’ll build habits by working out together, setting your child up for lifelong health.
Parenting and nutrition
Just because you’re eating healthier doesn’t mean your child is ready to eat healthier. They are used to their routines, to certain foods, and to certain food preparations. What you can do is offer bites of your healthier meals to test the waters. Then focus on introducing the healthy foods they like into their meals – educating them on why that particular food is a healthy one.
Another way to get them to eat healthier is to disguise their favorite meals with healthier versions. If your child loves spaghetti and meatballs, swap white pasta for whole wheat pasta or 50% zucchini noodles. If PB&J is the go-to lunch in your house, swap out your sweetened, salted peanut butter for a unsweetened, all-natural version. If all your child wants for snack is potato chips, try veggie chips or dehydrated fruits. You can also add “nutrition booster” to their favorite treats like these vegan banana bean muffins or brownies with added protein.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle as a parent isn’t easy. It takes patience, time management, and dedication. The key is getting your kids on board – they’ll motivate you as much as you motivate them, and you’ll both be healthier and happier as a result.