I’m not a stay-at-home dad but I’ve had a few Saturdays with Monica away at a baby/bridal shower and the girls staying home with me. On her way out the door there’s a quick rundown of the schedule, a couple of last-minute ‘don’t forgets,’ and the statement question – “You’re good, right?” I have her full confidence, no doubt, but she’s known me for over a decade and in the back of her mind she understands that I’m cooking up a list of easy exercises for me and the little ones to knock out while mom’s away.
I’ve got this whole, “lost 65 pounds, higher energy level, on-my-shoulder-whispering angel thing,” reminding me that I never miss a Monday and that I’ll need to squeeze at least a 30-minute workout into this day.
How, then, can I have a tremendous – memory generating – Saturday with my daughters and still workout to prevent the on-my-shoulder-whispering devil of obesity? Glad you asked.
Here are 6 Easy Exercises to Use When it’s Just you and the Kid(s)
One thing I’ll say up front. The safety of your child should be paramount. Keep in mind there is a touch of sarcasm in this post. I do not support a workout at the expense of safety for you or your children. That aside, let’s get to it.
1- The “Nap Time – Go Time” Workout
Thoughts – One of my favorites because, depending on the age, you have most everything at your disposal. Bootcamp style, bodyweight moves, Hammer and Chisel videos, P90X3 videos, calisthenics… We’re talking most workout types as long as you’re there when baby wakes up.
Remember: family first.
Requirements – Both proximity to your child and the trusty monitor (pictured above), and a general desire to get your workout on in the 5-200 minutes your pride and joy allows you. Good luck, my friend!
Downside – If you’re looking to run distance, this isn’t the method for you. Also, you lose out on time with the little one, but if she’s napping… you’re not spending time with her anyhow. Might as well get some cardio in – amirite?
2- The Roped-Off / Part of the Action
Thoughts – Not my favorite but you’re still able to get the job done. This one depends entirely on the attention span of your little one and the quality of toys you’re able to purchase. The toys don’t have to be expensive, but they should be numerous and wide-ranging. When all else fails, Clara seems to marvel at me ‘dancing’ or ‘singing’ in her presence. As long as the heart rate is up – that’s considered exercise.
Requirements – We’ve used the pack-and-play pictured above, in addition to a bouncer (when she was younger), stroller, and gates (more recently). The point here is to get creative so you can get your 10-Minute Workout on… Who’s with me??
Downside – Time constraints, depending on your distractibility. The older my daughters became, the less they wanted to sit in one place for any period of time, let alone 30 minutes. You’re also limited on location, depending on the weather outside and where your child-occupying devices are.
3- The cheerleader
Thoughts – Although adorable this one can be tricky. The youngster is basically in the same room as you and ‘part of the workout’ without being ‘part of the workout.’ She’s ideally watching and cheering, but in reality, she’s walking on, under, around, or near you which could impact the quality of your workout. However, something is better than nothing.
Requirements – Eh… Use your imagination. I picture an open space with limited things for the child to get her hands on, but you work with what you have.
Downside – This one is limited in scope and should only be used in the appropriate situations (which may be few and far between).
4- The Team-Builder
Thoughts – Now we’re starting to have some fun. There are many options here. We had this Ergo baby carrier (pictured below) which can be used for squats, lunges, stairs, chores, …, pull-ups (yes).
You see leg raises (pictured above). We’re talking shoulder press, chest press, curls, push-ups, and abs. The possibilities are truly limitless.
Requirements – Nothing other than you and your child. The baby carrier can be thrown in for additional moves but you could tackle most of these without it. The best part – as your child grows so does your resistance level, and hopefully both of your fun levels.
Downside – There will come a time when that resistance level is quite high. At that point, you will either be ‘swole’ beyond imagination or done using this method. Until that point – enjoy your workout. Also, I would caution you to be aware of time since your little one’s last meal.
5- The Indirect Participant / Winter Has Broken!! (Jogging Stroller)
Thoughts – Here we’re finding a good balance of cardio and resistance. You thought running was hard by itself? Try pushing a kid or two. Some definite benefits here though. Clara loves the outdoors and hopefully, your child will too…
There are always people running by (she loves awkwardly staring at people), animals on the trails, or birds in the trees. There is always something to pique her senses, which is good. Also, depending on your jogging stroller, the two of you can jam to some sweet 90s tunes or catch up on the latest episode of your favorite podcast. Either of which will distract you from the fact that you are running… Wins abound.
Requirements – Either a jogging stroller or a pull-behind for your bicycle. There are surely others I’m not thinking about. If so, let me know in the comments or email me and you could be the focus of our next ‘Mailbag’ post.
Downside – Weather could limit your abilities here, but otherwise this one has been pretty clutch.
6- The Workout Buddy
Thoughts – This has no doubt been my favorite as our girls have grown up. We’re stacking so many positive attributes on here that it excites me just to think about this category.
You’re being a positive role model for your kid, boosting mood, activity level, and workout acumen, all while teaching them that fitness can be fun and a good thing to have in your life. Most importantly, you’re leading by example. ‘Do as I do’ was always more effective for me growing up.
My dad likes to tout his 137-1 record against me in 1-on-1 basketball. I’m not sure I’ll have the same level of success against our girls, but maybe I’ll wait until she’s 7 or so to start the tally (some people think 4 is a decent age…).
That ‘1’ in the record books represents a significant moment in my childhood.
It was monumental for a few reasons:
- Early on I broke my dad’s favorite sunglasses with an incidental elbow to the nose (no blood – no foul called)
- I also broke his favorite sandals by stepping on them accidentally (why he was playing in sandals obviously represents how he viewed my abilities at that young age – that was the last time he did that…)
- That was the last scored game of 1-on-1 we played together. I think it was my right of passage into adulthood…
- More than anything though, I’ll never forget those moments of competing against one another, but still playing together.
I will say – if either Clara or Stella catch my eyebrow with an elbow in a game of 1-on-1 I’d like to think I’ll be more proud than upset… Those points are hard to come by and should be worked for.
Regardless, I’m putting in all the work outlined above to delay that ‘1’ for these girls as long as I can.
What do you think about working out with the kiddos? Let us know in the comments below!
Thanks for reading!
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