How I Exercise with 3 Young Kids

Find out how you can fit in daily exercise as a busy mom with young children. Get actionable tips from a mom of three!

Mom ready to exercise holding a baby

I am very excited about this new series. I get a lot of questions that ask how I do what I do in a day.

I have written a couple of posts on the topic, but it seems to be either too much at once or not enough details for some people. So I thought I would break down several things I do in the day that often allude people.

The first topic is Exercise.

First, the basic info:

What: Exercise

When: Early morning
Where: At my house

Why: To be healthy

How: Elliptical, mini tramp, and videos

Now more details.

What: Exercise

I do not love to exercise. I love to do things like play basketball that give you exercise, but I fully despise exercising just for the sake of exercise. However, I do believe in taking care of my body. I believe it is my responsibility to make sure I get the exercise I need to maintain a healthy body. So I do it even though I hate it.

And you hear people who love to exercise tell you things like “Oh, after you do it for two weeks you will be addicted.” Um, no. I have been consistently exercising at 5 days a week for 1.5 years and still do not love it. Although I will say I don’t dread it now. So maybe I am on the slow path to loving 🙂

I will note that I do several things that are exercise beyond my daily exercise. This includes going for walks or bike rides, hiking, playing sports, and gardening (you try squatting 500 times to pick your green beans and see how you feel). I do not count these as my “exercise” for the day, though it certainly is exercise and could easily be justified to switch. For me, maintaining my exercise in the morning program is dependent upon me consistently doing it

When: Early Morning

The easiest time for me to fit in exercise is in the early morning hours before my children get up. I wake up at 6:00 AM to exercise. I do this five days a week. I never do exercise on Sunday. Sometimes I will do something on Saturday beyond the normal exercise of the day.

A note on time. This is what works for me. You might find waiting until independent playtime is what works for you. When McKenna was a newborn, I went running in the evenings between bedtime and the dreamfeed. I didn’t want to get up early with a new baby in the house. The trick is to find a time that you can be consistent with day in and day out.

Where: At My House

I do pretty much everything I do at my house. I sometimes venture out to go running, but I positively hate to run, so it is not something I mark as my norm for exercise. I have to do something I can tolerate if I want it to be a normal part of my lifestyle. Some people need a gym to exercise in, and many offer childcare while you exercise, so that is definitely an option.

There are lots of things you can do at home. Jump roping, videos, machines, videos, lunges, and squats…lots of things that can be done in the convenience of your home.

Why: To Be Healthy

My goal with exercise is to be healthy. Exercise improves physical, mental, and emotional health.

When you exercise you have more energy. And honestly, when I exercise, I can pretty much eat what I want to without gaining weight and I really like to eat food.

So I do it to be healthy and to eat food.

It is my observation that the older people I know who are still active have always been active. They move around quite well and maintain an active lifestyle. I would like to be able to be active as long as I am alive, so I want to take care of myself to help make that a reality.

Another bonus of exercising is it sets a good example for your children. They see that taking care of yourself is important to you, so it will be important to them to take care of themselves.

Now, of course, there is the reason to lose weight, and I have that as a goal, also. Carrying four children can add some pounds to you.

My primary goal is to be healthy, and I think to be healthy I need to lose some weight. I don’t have much left. One tool I have found most helpful is an app for counting calories called “Lose It!” It is free. There is another free calorie counter app that is rated really well, also. I believe there are some free websites you can do that on, so if anyone knows, please share!

The way to lose weight is to expend more calories than you put in. With Lose It!, you input your gender, age, height, and weight and weight goals (how many pounds by what date). It then tells you how many calories you can eat in a day to lose as much as you desire per week. You input your activity (which adds the number of calories you can eat) and your food. It adds up the calories for you.

It is interesting to use something like this. My husband and I can do the same exercise, but he gets credited more calories burned than I do. I have a friend who is using this, and while I can eat 1505 calories a day to lose a pound a week, she can only eat 1000. So it helps you have a more personalized goal. I actually lose 1.5 pounds a week when I follow this.

How: Elliptical, Mini-Tramp, and Videos

Like I said above, I do my walks, bike rides, sporting events, gardening, etc. that provide some good exercise. Even with that, I add in my daily exercise.

I do my elliptical 2-3 times per week for about 45 minutes usually. Sometimes 60.

Some days, I mix it up with mini-tramp exercises.

Last Spring, my friend Char did a guest post about her book on exercising. On that thread, several people commented on Lindsay Brin’s DVDs. I decided so many of my readers could not be wrong, so I bought one of her bootcamp DVDs. And I love it! Lindsay Brin’s Boot Camp 2 DVD with Moms Into Fitness.

It is seriously a great video. She has pregnancy workout DVDs and others. I highly recommend it. I also really enjoy pilates and have a few Winsor Pilates DVDs. I have also heard good things about Slim in Six, but I haven’t ever tried it.

Now, I am not an exercise expert by any stretch of the imagination. There are a few things I have learned through my short journey. I know many of you will read this and think “duh,” but these are things I had to learn the hard way over the last 1.5 years so hopefully I can help someone learn it in 1.5 minutes instead.

  1. Mix it up. You can’t do the same thing every single time you exercise and continue to see results. When I first started, all I did was elliptical. At first, it was great and I lost a pound a week without considering diet at all. But doing the same thing each day–even with my different elliptical workouts programmed into my machine–caused a plateau after three months. Do cardio, do toning, and do different exercises in those categories every so often.
  2. Strength Training. You must have strength training to help burn more calories. Doing something with weights helps build muscle, which burns calories. Pilates builds muscle, yoga, weights, lunges…Lindsay Brin’s workouts do toning as well as cardio. I have heard many people say you absolutely cannot get continued weight loss results without some strength training. I thought it was all about the cardio, so that was my only focus. Once I added in strength training each week, I started seeing more results.
  3. Cardio. Cardio burns calories and burns fat so the muscle you build can show through. Lindsay Brin says to do cardio every other day (toning can be done every day).
  4. Calories. Remember the key to weight loss is calorie input vs. output. You need to burn more than you take in a day. Remember the recent Twinkie diet? A man lost 27 pounds in 10 weeks simply eating twinkies all day. He just made sure he ate no more than 1800 calories worth a day. A hard thing with exercising is when you exercise, you want more food. You could run 10 miles a day, but if you ate more calories than you burned, it wouldn’t bring weight-loss benefits.


I would encourage you to focus on your health when exercising. If you focus on weight, you won’t make exercise a lifetime habit. I have had months go by where I don’t lose a pound. But I know I feel better and that I am in better shape than I was before I started to regularly exercise.

If you have ideas to add to this, please share! Do you have favorite videos? Exercises? Effective times of day? Motivation?

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