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How to Find Time to Exercise When You Have Small Children

by Joelle Wisler
Photo by: Shutterstock

We all want to exercise. Okay, we don’t really want to, but our New Year’s Resolutions continue to insist that we must. And we all know the importance of doing something, right? And if you have kids, (particularly little kids) finding a good time, or any time, to exercise is difficult or seemingly impossible.

I know that I’m not the only one whose toddler thinks if I get down on the floor I become some kind of animal she must ride. And even if you have the the best intentions of waking up early to get your workout in, your will to live is usually sucked out of you in the middle of the night by the short people in your house.

Exercising is all about doing that little bit of something. One little thing done every day can make a difference. And I’m a physical therapist so it must be true.

Here’s a list of times during the day – times that may not have occured to you – when you may be able to start slimming down those flappy arms or fitting into last year’s (decade’s?) pants.

1. Waiting for the bus – If you are able, go out to the bus stop just 20 minutes early, and run up and down your hill (or street). The people who drive by will think you are insane, but your butt will thank you.

2. Potty-training – If your toddler is anything like mine, they like to sit on the toilet for an extraordinarily long time, and you have to be in the room just to remind them of what they are actually doing and to make sure they aren’t drinking toilet water. During this time, you could do push-ups or tricep dips off of your bathroom counter and gain toned arms instead of dying from boredom.

3. Brushing your teeth – You gotta brush, right? Do squats or wall sits, and again, your booty will be happy. And so will your dentist. And your pants.

4. Nap-time – If you are home and have the miraculous fortune of your child taking a nap, this is the perfect time to do something, anything. Dance like a maniac to music that only you want to listen to, put in a cheesy movie and jog up and down your stairs, do jumping jacks (if you can do this without wetting your pants), or simply do planks. Planks can fix almost everything.

5. Fixing dinner – Lunges to and from the stove or refrigerator. Genius right? Or side squats! And since this is pretty much the only time your toddler wants to be held, you can pick them up and get an arm workout in there too! Are we having fun yet?

6. Folding clothes – Okay, just kidding on this one. Too complicated.

7. Talking on the phone – I like to do vigorous cleaning while I talk on the phone. I don’t know why, maybe so I feel like I’m being productive. Put some headphones in and chat with your best friend or sister and scrub the crap out of your tub or Swiffer like a boss.

8. Driving – Do butt squeezes at stop lights. Seriously.

9. Watching TV – This is an obvious one, I know. And most of the time I’m tired when I sit down to watch TV. But if you are crazy enough to run up and down your street at the bus stop then you just might be crazy enough to do some V-sits or crunches while you indulge in the newest season of The Bachelor.

10. Going to bed – I mean there is the obvious exercise but I’ll keep it g-rated. While you are laying there you can do kegels. These are, next to planks, the best exercise ever. They can even sometimes help with back pain by pulling teeny-tiny back muscles that help with stabilization. And they work wonders for that peeing-during-jumping-jacks thing.

So good luck out there! Does anybody else have strange places or times that they exercise?

Joelle Wisler is a writer, mom and occasional physical therapist. She lives in the mountains in Colorado and likes to run the crazy trails behind her house but is terrified of getting eaten by a mountain lion. This year she co-produced Boulder’s Listen To Your Mother show and she blogs about motherhood at 8500 feet at You can like her on Facebook, and follow her on Instagram.

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