Key tips for creating opportunities at home for movement & exercise and keeping the whole family healthy and happy
Written by Mia Weber
With the situation surrounding the global COVID-19 pandemic evolving often by the hour, it really seems like only one thing is for sure: Resuming normal routines outside the home isn’t going to be happening anytime soon. While spending so much time with the whole family at home, and coexisting in smaller spaces, it can be challenging to feel like you have control over your routine—and this certainly becomes magnified and intensified when you add a pregnancy, a baby, or an active young child into the mix.
Fortunately, staying active at home can take many forms and can easily become part of your family’s new routine in order to create structure, stay physically healthy, and to regain some mental calm for mom and dad and expend some energy (kids and toddlers). We’ve rounded up some helpful tips for forging a new movement routine while you’re doing your part and staying home.
Connect with your community
Thanks to the wonders of technology, many exercise studios, kids’ activity centers, prenatal wellness, and mommy & me classes have moved online and are pumping out tons of opportunities to connect via live video or pre-recorded content on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. If you already had a prenatal yoga class you loved or a toddler dance class your little lived for, check to see if they are have any virtual offerings during this time. Additionally, many fitness pros and enrichment providers are offering their services for free online but encouraging donations for good causes.
If you have a group of parent friends you see regularly in an informal way—maybe the moms do some stretching in the park while the kiddos run around and hit the playground—fire up the group chat and plan for regular Zoom or FaceTime hangs where movement is the unifying theme. If you have multiple electronic devices, maybe you can set up one video feed for the kids and one for the parents. It’s the little ones’ chance to run around and show each other that new dance they learned, and it’s the moms’ chance to sync up for some yoga.
If you’re not used to working out at home or having your children get their active time in at home, one of the most important things you can do is integrate movement into the household routine, the same way you do with chores, naps, meals, bath-time, and screen-time. This doesn’t mean that movement and exercise should seem like a chore, but your kiddos should come to see it as an expected part of their day during this time.
And this goes for parents as well. Many busy parents find comfort in their gym routine or their me-time when hitting a spin class or yoga class at their favorite fitness studio. Finding that treasured alone time for fitness can be harder when you have to take everything into the home with children and babies there too, but setting a structured schedule can make a big difference.
Discuss movement and workout goals with your partner. Determine times where one of you will wrangle the littles while the other gets a room (if you can, turn your spare bedroom, garage, basement, or foyer into a dedicated movement area) to themselves for an hour to flow, sweat, or lift.
Set a similar structure with your kids if their old enough to engage as well—if they already love moving around, challenge them to dance or safely jump around and stretch while you do your own movement. If you have a young baby to wrangle, incorporate them into your routine—put them in the baby carrier while you bust out some squats; sneak in some yoga poses while they’re doing tummy time, or pop them into your jogging stroller and take a socially-distant spin around the block.
Make it about fun and family
Ultimately, the silver lining of staying home to flatten the curve is that it suddenly does open up opportunities for quality time as a family. You may be getting on each other’s nerves, but take time to have fun finding innovative ways to move together.
This could mean doing physical fitness challenges together (if your kids are old enough), engaging in family yoga flows (there are many yoga flows where you can incorporate your new baby safely into your movements, and routines that toddlers can follow along with), or cardio dance parties (mom and dad dance it up while baby bops in their bouncer or swing).
And if you’re fortunate enough to have a yard or deck, or live near a park or green space where it’s safe to enjoy socially-distant outdoor time, make family walks a part of your routine. Maybe you celebrate Friday with a walk around the block right before sunset or with an outdoor game on the lawn once mom and dad shut the laptops.