4 ways to exercise when you have small children.

Because this ALWAYS happens…


Okay. As most of you probably already know – I don’t have small children. At least, not any that I know of.

However, in 2009, I started nannying for a family with small, small children. That family referred me to about four other families with small, small children. All of whom needed some kind of caregiver. As a result, I spent quite a chunk of time immersed completely in Play-doh, Peppa Pig, drool, nappies and threatening phone calls to Santa Claus.

So believe me when I say that I know it’s difficult to exercise when you have small children. They’re demanding, they’re distracting, they’re TIRING. Heck, I could give them back at the end of the day, and yet I’d still go home and collapse in a heap on my bed.

Nevertheless – you can’t really afford to give up all semblance of a workout routine until said children are all grown up and enrolled in university degrees. By then, it will sadly be too late. You have to get onto it now – and your mental and your physical health will thank you for it.


Here are some of the tips I’ve gathered – feel free to add your own in the comments!

1. Work out at home while they’re sleeping/locked in a playpen

Working out at a gym can take up a lot of precious time that you may not have. Also, it may also require the transportation of children, and then you have to find adequate care for them while you slave away on the elliptical – and not all gyms have great day cares, or even offer daycare at all.


Staying at home for your workout will make your life a thousand times easier. It saves you time, because you don’t have to put on any pants or do anything with your hair or struggle to find the car keys. Also – you can do it at anytime. In the morning, before your kids get up, or at night after they go to bed, if you’re not too tired.

Check out this post for at-home workout ideas and this post for no-equipment-necessary ideas. And go nuts.

2. Use exercise as your me-time

Every lady needs me-time. Especially when you are covered in snot, kiddie yogurt and various other unmentionable substances.

But instead of using your me-time to get your nails done or to catch up on back-to-back episodes of Real Housewives of Wherever – why not use it for exercise purposes? It’ll make you fitter, healthier and happier – after all, those exercise endorphins work wonders.

An exercise. In CUTENESS.

Enlist the father of your children or someone else you trust to look after the kiddies while you do your choice of workout. Get everyone into a bit of a routine so it’s never a shock and there’s not too much planning or complicated shuffling of plans involved. Pick a workout that works for you – maybe it’s high-intensity CrossFit, maybe it’s a gym class, maybe it’s yoga to re-energise.

I know a mum who subs out of duty right after bedtime at their place. Dad’s around to help out with bath and bed to ensure it all runs (sort of) smoothly; mum heads straight to the gym for her quiet time. She runs on the treadmill for a steady 45 minutes, watching whatever’s on TV, and then pops home again to sort the next day, feeling like her head is clear again.


3. Get creative

Children bugging you to take them to the playground? Wear your exercise gear and use the playground as your workout equipment. Most of it wouldn’t be out of place at a Tough Mudder event – monkey bars, anyone?

While your kids play, you can do squats, lunges, push-ups, leg raises – anything at all that you can think of. Use the play equipment to support you as you work those muscles. Alternatively, you can simply run laps of the playground, or use the swings for abs/arm work. A kid works well on the swings as extra weight!

4. Brainwash the children as early as possible

If you can somehow get your kids interested and involved in fitness, it’s awesome. It sets them up with good habits for life and makes your life easier, because if you work out, they’ll want to work out with you.

Obviously you don’t quite want to be signing the kids up for super-marathons or dragging a toddler to Crossfit. But there’s so much you can do to get them involved in your fitness. Why not sign up for a fun-run together – a 5km or similar – and “train” for it together? I know a little family that goes for “jogs” in the morning together, doing laps around the park, and they all adore it.

Alternatively, get your kids interested in yoga – there are kiddie versions – or simply put on some awesome music and have a dance around the house. If you have a gaming console of some description, you might also like to invest in the video game workout to go with it – kids adore things like Wii Fit and you can all have a go and track your progress.

Do you have small children? How do you work out?