I work a full-time job that requires four hours of commuting each day. I have three children aged 7, 5, and 2.
I’m a busy guy.
As a working parent, there is a constant struggle we all face between doing things for ourselves and doing things for our family. Why take an hour for yourself to work out when you could be spending that hour with your kids or your spouse? For myself, the answer is easy: When I don’t work out, I become grumpy and miserable. (How about you?)
No matter how many soccer, basketball, ballet recitals, music performances, or wherever you are driving your child or children to, you need to find time to work out. We all can’t have gyms in our basement or garage, so that usually means time away from family.
This is OK.
You don’t have to feel guilty about leaving for an hour to slam some bars. Everyone benefits, at least in my family, when I spend that time letting off steam and getting those endorphins pumping. That said, it usually comes with some level of sacrifice. Here are a few tips for finding and sticking to a workout schedule that works for everyone.
1. First, find an activity that you love. Then, find people who also love this activity and do it together.
I do CrossFit, and there I found an amazing group of people who love to do it as well. They are some of my best friends and harshest critics. If I don’t show up for a class or if I skip out on a workout, you can bet my phone comes alive with NSFW text messages about my absence. We all need that little bit of extra motivation to get out of bed in the morning.
2. Develop a workout schedule that works for you and your spouse.
You both want to work out. One or both of you work. You’ve got kids. You have no time. News flash: There is always time to work out, you simply need to find it and accept that compromises will have to be made. I work out Monday, Wednesday, Friday and sometimes Saturday. My wife works out on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. For us, working out in the morning, when the kids are sleeping, works best. For you, it might be the evening. The key is to find a time that works for the family.
3. Consistency is key. Repetition breeds habit.
I take the train into work everyday. The train runs on a schedule that is consistent. It is reliable. (OK, sometimes reliable.) These are all characteristics that your workout schedule should have. Decide on a time, put it in your schedule, and set an alarm.
This is what my alarm looks like.
Yes, I get up at 4:30 am on Saturdays. Every Saturday.
Am I crazy? Yup. Do I get my workouts in? Yup. Set a schedule, set an alarm, and stick to it. You’ll be surprised how quickly your body will get on board and actually crave this schedule. If you love fitness, you know that our bodies are quick learners!
4. If you miss a workout, it isn’t the end of the world.
There have been many a morning where my alarm has gone off and I’ve found myself sleeping on the floor in one of my kid’s rooms. What do I do? Honestly, when it matters, I turn off the alarm and go back to sleep. I’m one of the biggest workout junkies around, but I’m not that crazy. You’re a parent. Bad nights happen. Miss a workout? Big deal, it is just one workout. Deal with it, move on and hit it harder the next time in the gym. Life happens.
5. Suck it up and just get it done.
I get it. I work full time, have a four hour commute, have three kids age 7 and under, and I would much rather get two more hours of sleep than get up at 4:30 am four days a week. But you know what? There is no other time that works in our schedule, so I get it done. Is it easy? No. But what is the alternative if you want to get fit and be healthy? Put on your big boy/girl pants.
We all have busy schedules. But if you are reading this, you are already passionate about working out. Suck it up. Wake up early, stay up late, just do what you need to in order to get the job done.
But remember: family first.
Featured image via @gwdbis3 on Instagram.