Editor’s Note: The following article is written by a Skinny Mom Resident Mom. The Resident Mom program gives a voice to our readers, allowing real moms across the world to contribute content to Skinny Mom. If you’re interested in becoming a Resident Mom, click here to apply.

resident mom header

I have always had a passion for fitness and consider it a gift to be able to work out, but I know that not everyone shares my way of thinking. I use exercise as a way to recharge, clear my head, keep in good health and hopefully fend off disease. Once I had kids, the thought of finding time to work out became more challenging. I was ecstatic to be a mom, but felt overwhelmed, as many of you probably do, at the thought of working a full-time job and taking care of two young children — never mind myself. I was often too exhausted to work out despite enjoying it; however, somewhere along the way I realized something very important.

moms running

I was using the excuse that I couldn’t find time to work out because I was so busy, but I found that it was just an excuse. It was no longer about finding time to workout, it was about making time to workout. As a full-time working (single) mom with two small children (ages five and six), I found that it wasn’t so much in the scheduling, but more in the attitude.

We all start with the same amount of time each day. Despite juggling crazy schedules, we somehow make time to catch up on Facebook, text with friends, shop online, plan birthday parties, take part in school programs and so on. I think if you give it some thought you can carve out 10 to 30 minutes to fit in some form of exercise. Click here for a 30-minute calorie-blasting workout!

Here are some tips to help you make time for exercise:

Schedule time for yourself and make it non-negotiable. I know that this is easier said then done, but try it. I schedule my workout time on my phone and plan around it. Whether it’s 5 a.m. before your kids are up or on your lunch hour, you’ll have to find the time that works best for you. If my kids wake up early and I’m working out, I have them join me. My 6-year-old son loves “Shaun T’s Hip Hop Abs” so I may have to adjust what I have planned to accommodate him, but I make it happen.

Include the kids. During the holidays my gym’s childcare was working on a limited schedule so instead of skipping the gym, I brought the kids with me and we had family workouts. I’ve also been known to take the kids to the basketball court or park to set up mini drills. They think it’s a ball and we get to spend time exercising together. Look for programs that include the kids. My gym features a family class for kids six and up.

working out with the kids

Photo By: Liz Sophia

Timeshare with another mom. Share time watching one another’s kids so that you can make time for a workout.

Set mini goals. If you can’t carve out a 30- to 40-minute block to work out, then break it up in to two or even three mini sessions. Aim for 10 to 20 minutes in the morning and another 10 to 20 minutes at night. Set mini goals at first and reward yourself for beating them. Sometimes I will buy myself flowers or new workout clothes as a reward for my work. Click here for ideas on how to reward yourself!

Ten minutes. Lace up and show up. Sometimes it takes a lot to prioritize your workouts, especially when you’re tired but I’ve found that once I get to the gym I can usually rally. Warm up and start your routine, if after 10 minutes you really can’t keep up, give yourself a break, but at least you tried. Tomorrow is a new day.

Get rid of the guilt. Make sure your kids know how important exercise is to you. I always tell my kids that I’m a better mom for working out, and it’s true. I’m so grateful to be a mom and as much as I love my kids, let’s be honest, we need a break. Exercise is that break for me.

Create a vision board and unite as a team. When I decided to train for a fitness competition, I knew that it was going to take even more planning and family support than normal. I sat down with my kids and talked about how we would need to work as a team to train for the competition. I made it about “us” not “me,” and together we worked on a vision board that showed what it would take to get there. I laid out fitness and food magazines and had the kids cut out pictures of things that represented “healthy” and “strong.” Together we created a vision board to help us keep track of the goal. The kids were front and center on the day of my competition and were incredibly proud to have been a part of it.

working out with the kids

Photo By: Liz Sophia

The benefits of exercise extend beyond just you. The other day, I asked my kids to write down three words to describe me and they picked “healthy” and “strong” as their first choices. Hearing how they describe their mom makes me proud. When I talk about why working out is important to me I say that it makes me healthy and a better mom. It’s important to me that my kids understand that fitness is about taking care of yourself, mentally and physically. It’s not about a dress size.

So the next time you wonder how you can find time to work out, try thinking about it from this angle.

>> Read more: How to Fit Exercise into Your Busy Schedule