Staying fit without a gym and with kids? Sounds pretty tough, huh? New Year’s resolutions are tricky to stick with in general, and a lifestyle change can be intimidating, especially when you have to consider the effect it will have on your family’s meals, schedules, etc. While certain gyms have excellent childcare, others don’t offer any respite for healthy-aspiring moms and dads… and it seems a little soul-crushing to pay a babysitter to go exercise. So, include your kids in your healthy living plans. You’ll be setting them up for a lifetime of healthy habits, and they are likely to remind you that staying fit is fun. Read on for ways to keep the whole family fit during the winter.
Kids are natural yogis. They love stretching and aren’t afraid to look silly and get themselves into various yoga positions. Books such as Itsy Bitsy Yoga for Toddlers and Preschoolers or My Daddy is a Pretzel are great for both new-to-yoga parents and kids to look over as a start (Itsy Bitsy Yoga also has DVDs). Many areas now have family yoga classes, but yoga is a lot of fun at home too once you get the hang of basic positions. My 3 ½ year old son regularly requests doing “run around yogi” and being rolled up in a yoga mat like a little sushi, both from Itsy Bitsy Yoga. Now when my husband or I does a regular yoga DVD, he likes to participate in the poses that he knows best. Yes, hearing a tot say, “Yay! Trikonasana!” is as funny as you would guess. And while yoga is not meant to be competitive, kids will likely be proud that their little limber bodies can stretch further than ole Mom or Dad’s.
Take being a new parent in stride. Organized classes such as Stroller Strides let you meet other parents while you exercise and hang out with your babies. Even if you aren’t part of a group, look for places in your local area where you can take an extended walk such as a park or around the outskirts of a playground (or perhaps even around an indoor track at a local gym). While you may not want to make a habit of it, if your little one sleeps well in a stroller, replace his or her nap in a crib with one on the move. If you can’t fit in one long walk, sneak in a few shorter ones – taking the dog on an longer walk, walking to the grocery store instead of driving, etc.
Don’t let the snow deter your winter walking. Snowshoeing is a kick butt winter work out that’s really fun, and there are no slopes required. Unlike certain competitive winter sports, snowshoeing lets each person go at their own pace. Just getting off the couch and outside is a start. Think of everyone in the family like a dog (okay that sounded weird but follow me): dogs need their walks outside and so do all of you. Snowshoeing lets you all get safely out there in a way that will allow you to enjoy the natural, snowy beauty without being frozen – you’re guaranteed to work up a sweat while snowshoeing. Being outside can also help boost vitamin D levels and fend off seasonal depression.
Playing/Working in the Snow
Rolling up snowballs burns calories, right? And of course, dragging the kids around on a sled is enough to wind even the most physically fit. Whether you are shoveling the driveway, making an igloo, or walking to the local park for some hill sledding, this winter workout gets you out in the fresh air and away from that exercise DVD you have done 321 times.
Okay, you probably don’t have moves like JLo, but trust us, your kids couldn’t care less. They will love moving their bodies along with you, and dance parties are a great way to introduce them to new music, including artists who don’t include animal noises in their songs. Extra calories burned for lifting kids up (free weights!). Oh, and consider your ab workout accomplished since watching tots bounce and sway is hysterical and bound to cause some giggles for everyone. We are pretty much in the dark age when it comes to technology at our house, but Wii Fit apparently has get-up-and-move games of all types and can be done from the comfort of your living room.
While making chocolate chip cookies may be their favorite culinary creation, kids are generally pretty adventurous in the kitchen and will love assisting in making snacks, especially if they are hands-on. Choosing a simple treat like muffins, raw cookies, or any other Tots’-approved snacks or even fresh juices can be a family activity. My son is obsessed with juicing and will add kale and spinach into the juicer without protest. Another trick for healthy snacking: stop your evening snacking when your kids do. My husband and I generally have our snack after the kids are in snoozetown, but we’re trying to change that: experts recommend making your last snack 2-3 hours before bedtime. By having a snack with the kids you are less likely to reach for something unhealthy, since you probably don’t want your kids to know that you eat chocolate cupcakes on a nightly basis.
Going to Sleep Early
With all the new family activity going on (yoga, snowshoeing, etc), you may find that you are all hitting the sack a little earlier. Use this opportunity to catch up on your sleep debt; turn off the TV and settle in for some whole body beauty sleep (DVR whatever shows you usually stay up late for!). Staying well rested will help you avoid those superbugs and viruses circulating the preschool set since being sleep-deprived means you have lower immunity. Getting some extra shut-eye will also enable you to have the energy to move your body, and to stick with any of those other resolutions you may have made! Good luck!
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