So, you’ve started off another year with your list of New Year’s resolutions and your annual exercise or fitness goal is at the top of your list. Now that January is over and your goals have been derailed by children who lay on top of you in the middle of your crunches, reach for the floor of the treadmill just as you’ve begun to feel a burn, or decide that your workout day is a great day to play hide and seek with your equipment, you’re probably close to falling back into your old regimen of lift the chicken nugget. Well, don’t throw in your workout towel so quickly.
Now that you know what doesn’t work for your workout, you are in the right frame of mind to try a few parental friendly tips that may just help you to conquer your fitness goals before summer vacation. If you’re lucky, these tips should provide you with some much needed quiet time while your little prince or princess is napping from their day of fun and fitness with mom or dad.
Indoor Fitness Fun
Ball Exercise: Children of all ages seem to love a ball of any size. But, it’s just your luck that your little one seems to cling to the one ball that you’re trying to use to get your upper body back into shape. Here’s an idea: visit your nearest family market and purchase one of those kid friendly balls that you often find your child unable to resist when you’re shopping. A $3 investment can go a long way when it comes to your workout.
Tip: Carve out some time in your busy schedule to enjoy your ball workout with your little one working out at your side. Make a game out of your workout and reward your child for doing well. Children love to imitate us. You can maintain your own personal fitness goal and make a life-long impression on your children by teaching them the value of being fit.
Free Weights: If you’re like most parents, you probably get a little nervous when your child is around any type of heavy workout equipment. After all, we spend a great deal of time figuring out how to protect our children from getting hurt. If you’re like me and you have active boys at home, you’ve come to realize that accidents are inevitable. But the more you can do to prevent an accident from happening, the more heroic you feel as a parent.
Tip: Ever heard of arm curling a grapefruit? How about an apple? Any round fruit that you can fit into the palm of your hand will do. Remember, the heavier the fruit, the better the results. Simply grab a smaller version of that same fruit for your child and have a muscle-building contest. Keep in mind that you win as long as your child is having fun. When the contest is over, tune in to your artistic side by creating a crown made of paper fruit, crown your child “King or Queen of Fruit Weights” and let them decide how they’d like to enjoy their fruit for a healthy snack.
Exploring the Outdoors
Walk/Roll/Run: Every child I’ve ever known seems to grow weary when walking long distances. Hence the tons of toddlers and even early school-aged children you’ll find enjoying the luxury of lounging in a stroller. As a parent it can be quite difficult to find the time and energy to stroll with your little one for a mile or two. Especially, since they are highly likely to get restless from sitting for so long. The wishy-washy up and down emotions of your child are just beginning at this stage. So, brace yourself. Your goal is to figure out how to cure their sitting down too long, walking around too long blues. It really is quite simple, but if you begin to think too long and hard about it, you’ll begin adopting the same restless blues your child has and all thoughts of a good workout are over.
Tip: Getting in a little cardio and whipping your body into shape from the inside out is just an outdoor park away. Houston has tons of parks with hills, either natural or manmade. Find one, schedule a park day and prepare for an hour or more of fun. Be sure to park your vehicle a great distance away from the hill so that you and your child get a good warm-up in. By the time you make it to the hill, you’ll probably have heard the first whine or whimper. Be imaginative. Pretend that you’re on a secret mission and that you have to reach the top of the hill in order to get started with your quest. Tell your child that you’re being timed, get him or her ready to run and go for it! Run up the hill as fast as you can and when you reach the top, tell your child that you’ve been spotted and you have to roll down quickly. Roll down the hill and start all over with the run. When you tire out (because your child certainly won’t) stand at the top of the hill and look out into your surroundings. Locate a tree as your target, show it to your child and tell him or her that your mission is to keep the “red squirrel from gathering nuts” from a particular tree. Sit down for a nice picnic lunch, keep eyeing your target, and tell your child that the red squirrel must have spotted you again and won’t be coming back today. You can schedule a mission as often as you think the red squirrel will try to gather nuts at that tree again. In one afternoon, you’ve had a great workout, enjoyed time with your child and you’ve sparked their imagination. This is the stuff great parents are made of.
There you have it: At least three days of workouts that you can enjoy with your child every week. Before long, you’ll have reached your fitness goals and you’ll realize that the greatest part of parenting is that there are no specific rules. Have fun, be imaginative and do what works for you. Incorporating your lifestyle into that of your child will help you to foster a relationship that will be cherished throughout your child’s adult years. Your little prince or princess will thank you for it and with these fun-filled workouts. Your healthy body will, too.
Keisha Davis is a wife and a busy mother of three sons and a daughter. With over 16 years of experience in parenting, her career has shifted from stay-at-home mom and freelance writer to full-time working mom in the busy world of broadcast media. While admitting that being a mother of four has its moments of joy and frustration, Keisha’s belief that parenting takes priority over everything else in life has made her job as a mother both enjoyable and rewarding. This belief has fostered a desire in her to continually find creative ways to nurture her children socially, emotionally and academically. A native Houstonian, Keisha spends her spare time writing, biking and enjoying outdoor activities with her family and Great Dane, Bella.
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