Exercising when you have young children


You might think that you get enough exercise from chasing your children around all day!  However, it’s still important to fit some planned exercise in as it helps keep you mentally and physically fit. If you can find some space to exercise by yourself, it can also give some much needed time out. Exercising when you have young children is possible! So how do you fit exercise in while raising small children? There are a number of ways I made it work.

Carve out time to exercise

When my children were young, I would often get up and exercise before my husband left for work.  If the children were awake, he could look after them until I finished.  This exercise was usually going for a walk around my neighbourhood.  Sometimes I would just exercise at home too.  Home workouts were usually walking up and down the back stairs a number of times, jumping on the mini-tramp or using a skipping rope.

If it was raining or I wanted a different form of exercise I would use an exercise DVD or video (yes, I’m that old!). These DVDs were a mix of aerobic exercise and strength training, so I was able to mix it up a bit. Nowadays, I would recommend using YouTube to find a free workout that appeals to you.  You could do these once your children are in bed in the evening, or during nap time too.


When my children were little, I would go with a friend to aqua aerobics.  I would either leave my children with my mother-in-law or use the crèche at the pool complex. This way I got exercise, plus time with a friend.  Many gyms have crèches or childminding services, thus making it easier for parents to exercise.

Another option is to get involved in organised sport.  I played evening indoor netball for a number of years while my children were young.  My husband would look after our children, and sometimes my single friend’s son as well. This was another great way to socialise and get some exercise at the same time.

You could also arrange with a friend to watch their children while they exercise, and then they do the same for you. 

Exercise with your children

Exercising with your children is another way to fit some exercise in.  Often, in the late afternoon, my husband would go jogging and I would go walking.  We would take one child each in a jogging pram.  As my daughter got older, she would sometimes want to walk and push her doll in her toy pram, just like Mum, or ride her bike.  Even though the pace was slower, it still meant I got moving and out of the house. It also taught my daughter the importance of exercise.  As a young adult, she still exercises regularly.

Some other ways to exercise with young children include:

  • putting on some music to have a dance party with your children.
  • a coin toss walk around the neighbourhood.  At each street corner toss a coin (or use a coin toss app) to determine which way to go.  Heads means go left, or tails go right.
  • Playing on the playground with your children, instead of just watching.
  • Play energetic ‘Simon says’ – with star jumps, push-ups, running on the spot etc


However you choose to fit in some exercise, it will help to maintain your physical and mental strength.  You will also be a great role model, as it will show your kids how to look after themselves. They’ll see you valuing your body and doing something for yourself, and hopefully, build similar habits. You can’t try all these ideas at once, but experiment to find a way of exercising that works for you, and in your current situation.


Jillian Ross
Stafford MOPS Kids Coordinator

Jillian is married with 2 young adult children and has been blogging at www.feedmyfamilyblog.com for over 7 years.  On the blog, she writes about feeding the family in body, mind, heart & soul.  Jillian enjoys speaking at women’s groups & conferences about parenting and passing on faith to our children.

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