How to Exercise as a Stay-at-Home Mom in 81 Easy Steps

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woman and child doing push ups

Y’all, I’m all about the self-care. That’s why I prioritize my emotional and physical health by ensuring that I work out. Often. (No joke, I work out six days a week because I like to be strong and healthy, and I’m not getting any younger, and it’s super good for stress relief, and I really like eating pizza and isn’t it all about balance?)

But I’m also a stay-at-home mom to a 1-year-old and a 4-year-old, both teeming with energy. And, sure, sometimes it’s really great to wait until my husband comes home from work so I can sneak off to my home gym (just kidding, I work out in a corner of my bedroom) and get in some “me time” while I work up a sweat. But what I really, really want is to exercise in the morning, cross it off the list for the day, and use that after-dinner hour to chill out as a family all together. (Or to sneak off to my home spa – just kidding, my bathroom – for a solo shower and a little Gilmore Girls watching.)

That leaves me with one option: exercise with the kids in tow. Y’all, it’s super easy. You, too, can be fit and fabulous even as a stay-at-home mom just by following these 81 easy steps:

Step 1. Choose the right at-home workout for you. I recommend keeping it to around 30 minutes or your workout buddies may get restless.

Step 2. Change into your workout clothes. (That is, unless you’re already wearing sweats, in which case – congrats, you are killing it in the stay-at-home mom world).

Step 3. Answer several questions about sports bras from your curious 4-year-old.

Step 4. Set up your equipment. Be sure to keep your weights out of the reach of little hands (you’d be surprised at what a 1-year-old can lift).

Step 5. Chase your 4-year-old through several rooms to retrieve your resistance band from him. Resistance bands are, apparently, immensely fun toys for children. Best to also keep the band out of reach or you’ll never get through this workout.

Step 6. Swear under your breath as you once again chase your 4 year old (who has apparently grown and can now reach the top of your bureau where you stashed your resistance band – who knew?) to retrieve your band once again from his hands, promising him that if he just lets you get through the next 30 minutes of exercising, he can play with the resistance band (which has been dubbed Mr. Elastic) all he wants.

Step 7. Ok. Clothing and equipment on point. Bargains made for good behavior – check. Time to press play and get your sweat on, you fierce beast.

Step 8. Smile adoringly as your children mimic your first several moves of the workout. Your son jogging in place is the cutest. And your daughter? A 1-year-old doing high plank is pretty much super adorable. Pat yourself on the back for modeling self-care and strength and fitness. This is perfect. The kids are having fun, and you’re getting in a workout. #winning

Step 9. Watch between push-ups as your daughter toddles out of the room and down the hall. Should you be concerned? Nah, she’s probably just going to flip through some books in her room.

Step 10. Watch as your son, now bored with squats, traipses out of the room as well. Try to keep your form as you listen for any signs of trouble.

Step 11. Hear a sign of trouble. Press pause and head down the hall, where you find both children on your son’s bed, giggling and batting around the stuffed animals.

Step 12. Since happy kids are kids who allow you to exercise, decide to let them remain on the bed and simply move all your weights and good ol’ Mr. Elastic into your son’s bedroom, where you can intervene quickly if the 1-year-old is about to fall (or be pushed) off the bed.

Step 13. Press play and resume your awesome workout.

Step 14. Remind your son that he cannot stand up on his bed as per the “monkey see, monkey do” behavior policy you had to put into place once his sister began walking/climbing/copying everything he does.

Step 15. Press pause because jumping jacks are coming up and you certainly can’t do those with absolutely anything in your bladder. Pee break. Better put a pad on just in case.

Step 16. Press play. Onward, warrior.

Step 17. In between breaths, remind your son a little louder about not standing up on the bed.

Step 18. Jump-jack your way over to your daughter and move her away from her precarious position at the edge of the bed.

Steps 19- 24. Remind your son with increasing levels of volume (ok, yelling…you’re now yelling) about not standing up on the bed.

Step 25. Breathe a sigh of relief as both children decide they’re done playing on the bed and each miraculously makes a safe exit down to the floor.

Step 26. Get through mountain climbers with the added challenge of a 4-year-old belly crawling under your chest and a 1-year-old climbing onto your back.

Step 27. Sigh as both children decide to climb back up on the bed. Prepare to be vigilant once again as you simultaneously complete scissor kicks without ever taking your eyes off of them.

Step 28. Warn your son he is not allowed to pile pillows on top of his sister.

Step 29. Warn your daughter to stay away from the edge of the bed.

Step 30. Warn both children not to stand on the bed.

Steps 31-75. Repeat steps 28-30 again, and again, and again, and again….

Step 76. Cool down! You’ve almost made it. 

Step 77. Allow your son to play with Mr. Elastic.

Step 78. Interrupt your hamstring stretch to break up the fight over Mr. Elastic that has now broken out between your children.

Step 79. Sink into child’s pose as both children climb onto your back. Who needs goat yoga when you’ve got kids? (“Kids.” See what I did there?)

Step 80. Bonus moves – re-make your son’s bed and clean up the trail of books, toys, stuffed animals, and the now-abandoned Mr. Elastic that has accumulated throughout the last 30 minutes.

Step 81. Get yourself a tall glass of water. You’ve earned it, sweat master. (But not before you get drinks for each child, who have seen you reach for a glass, bringing on their own extreme and urgent thirst.)

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Elizabeth Bettencourt holds a BFA in Theatre and a BS in Secondary English Education from the University of Rhode Island, a Masters in Reading & Literacy from Endicott College, and a Doctorate in Education from Northeastern University. Prior to becoming a stay-at-home parent full time, Liz taught English Language Arts and theatre at Plymouth South High School, where she also served as the ELA department head and the drama club advisor. Liz has also worked as an instructional coach and education consultant specializing in literacy instruction and differentiated instruction. In addition to her work as a mother, Liz currently directs theatre productions for Massassoit Community College and serves on the board of directors for New Bedford Festival Theatre. The majority of her time, however, is spent raising her son James and daughter Muriel with the help of her super supportive spouse, Matt. Liz is excited to be a part of the team at Providence Moms Blog, where she hopes to refresh her writing skills and reflect on this crazy and beautiful thing that is motherhood.