How to make time for exercise in the summer holidays
School’s out for summer, and that means one of two things - you’re a mum who’s juggling work and kids, or you’re a mum who’s juggling, er, kids
(I’ve done both roles and they’re equally as demanding). Whichever camp you’re in, the summer holidays can wreak havoc with your dependable routines (and life in general), and then there you are - having to navigate the rocky terrain that is ‘the summer holiday schedule’.
It can knock the most organised of mums clean off their feet, and even the most fundamental daily norms can fly out of the window along with last term’s spelling book - the kids haven’t cleaned their teeth for 3 days straight... they’ve had ice cream for breakfast, lunch and dinner…they’ve run out of clean underpants, and you’ve genuinely forgotten what day it is. Ok so I might be over exaggerating. Point is, the summer holidays are extremely busy, whether you’re working, looking after the kids full time, or jetting off on your holibobs. It’s not surprising that keeping up an exercise routine (or starting a new one) can be the first thing to get pushed to the bottom of the list.
So whether you’re an avid gym goer in term time or whether you’ve been wanting to start some form of exercise but still haven’t found the time, here’s some great tips on how to fit exercise into your life, no matter how busy you are.
First decide. Make a choice to get active / stay active, and make your health and fitness just as important as the laundry, the car wash, the admin, Netflix...
Start with a plan. What are your goals? Weight loss? Improve cardio fitness? General toning? Improve overall health/stamina/energy? Create a vision to motivate yourself, and measure your activity (i.e. make a note of every session you do - it will really motivate you!)
Make it a priority. When people say they don’t have time, I don’t buy it (sorry, I know I’m merciless, but hear me out). What people generally mean by this is, it’s not a priority. Finding ways to exercise is totally within your control - if you REALLY want to, you’ll prioritise it. How much TV do you watch? How much time do you spend on social media? Limit screen time or go cold turkey with the Facebook browsing - these activities can often add up to significant chunks of time that you could reclaim.
Find something you love. Some people love running, some hate it. Walking, swimming, cycling, yoga, hitting the gym, aerobics class, HIIT - whatever floats your boat. It makes it so much easier to stick to exercise if you enjoy it, so make it fun!
Plan ahead and schedule it in. Stick it in your calendar and give it the same level of commitment that you’d give to an appointment or meeting (arrange to work out with a friend if it decreases the chance of you bailing out). If you’re an early riser, perhaps you could head to the gym before your other half leaves for work, or if you’re more of an evening person you could head to the gym when he gets home on an evening.
Start small. Even 5 mins of exercise a day has the potential to massively change your life! 5 minutes can soon become 10, then 20.... just start somewhere! You don’t have to hit the gym 4 times a week for an hour at a time - short, regular sessions or short, intense workouts can be just as effective. Every little counts, and something is better than nothing.
Home workouts will suffice. If you can’t get to a gym (or don’t like the gym), you can fit mini workouts into your daily life at home. 10 mins a day, 20 mins, 30 mins - whatever works for you. Try squats or lunges while you’re waiting for the pasta to boil, or sit ups while the kids are in the bath or watching their TV programme. If you have dumbbells, a 10 minute sesh with these every day will yield great results. Small sessions really do add up.
Be efficient. If you work late or work away in the week, bodyweight training is fantastic as it requires no equipment, and you can burn fat and build muscle quickly - wherever you are! Bodyweight squats, lunges, push-ups, jumping jacks, planks… a great way to fit short but intense bursts into your day (and you can save the horse riding or rock climbing for special occasions).
Workout Videos. There are so many fabulous Apps, DVD’s, and YouTube videos available - there’s bound to be something you love, from HIIT to yoga, to running. Try Joe Wickes (aka The Body Coach) HIIT workout or his tailored 90 day plan (www.thebodycoach.com). Or the NHS Couch to 5k App or Podcast (www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/couch-to-5k-week-by-week/) These are all things you can try while the kids are eating brekkie or playing lego.
Get up early or forego evenings. Ok I know that might sound hideous - but if you really can’t squeeze exercise into your daytime (kids or work or both), then you might have to just grab this by the balls and do it at 5:30am, or 8pm. It might seem hellish at first, but you’ll feel great afterwards. Just remember the reasons ‘why’ you want to start (or continue) exercising.
Turn TV time into active time. You won’t burn calories watching Love Island, and you won’t get rid of your bingo wings watching Corrie. I’m sorry. But if you really can’t ditch the box on an evening, turn ‘sitting on your ass’ time into ‘moving your ass’ time - squats, lunges, planks, jumping jacks, yoga poses, jogging on the spot in the commercial break - mix it up!
Make exercise a family activity. Create a culture of health and fitness in the family and get more active - leave the car at home and walk to the park or the shops. Get the kids on their scooters or bikes while you jog alongside or push the toddler on a trike. If playdates involve sitting around a play centre eating cake and drinking coffee, switch it up and suggest an active date instead - meet at the park with the kids, and enjoy a long walk or a game of ball.
To conclude, it can be really difficult to continue exercising when you’re already a fan, and even more difficult to start out on your journey. It requires a whole lot of determination, but if you really want to, there’s genuinely no better time to start than now! Don’t procrastinate, because September will be just as busy (you know it will!)
On another note, remember to eat healthily too - staying fit and healthy involves having a good diet (good workouts and a shit diet will not get you results!). Drink plenty of water and get some good rest too.
And finally, don’t forget to warm up beforehand and stretch afterwards!
Here’s to a fitter, healthier, more active you!
Much love, Fran xxx
ABOUT FRAN GRANT
Wife to a very lucky husband. Mum to 3 beautiful little boys. Gym, yoga and self care enthusiast. Lover of food, coffee, wine and gin. Self confessed bookworm and book hoarder. Advocate for keeping the magic of reading alive for today’s children. And last but not least - Writer (currently trying my hand at kids fiction and rhyming stories). Thanks for visiting my site - expect to see posts mainly related to reading and writing, with occasional musings about family, parenting and life in general. Oh, and plenty of book reviews! Hope you enjoy! Much love, Fran x