6 Methods to exercise while ‘babysitting’ your kid

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I’m not a stay-at-home dad but I’ve had a few Saturdays with Monica away at a baby/bridal shower. 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?” It’s not because I’m incapable, it’s just that aside from Clara’s first few months of life there aren’t too many times where it’s just the two of us.


Don’t get me wrong, I cherish those moments. Add that to the fact that we tend to have a great time together, and you get the recipe for a great Saturday.


One other thing though… I’ve got this whole, “lost 65 pounds, higher energy level, on-my-shoulder-whispering angel thing,” reminding me that I should try and squeeze at least a 30 minute workout into this day.


How, then, can I have a tremendous – memory generating – Saturday with my daughter and still workout to prevent the on-my-shoulder-whispering devil of obesity? Glad you asked. Here are 6 Methods to exercise while ‘babysitting’ your 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 child. That aside, let’s get to it.


1) The nap time


Thoughts – One of my favorites because, depending on the age, you have most everything at your disposal. Bootcamp style, bodyweight moves, Insanity videos, P90x videos, calisthenics… We’re talking most workout types as long as you’re there when baby wakes up. Remember, family first.


Requirements – either proximity to your child or the trusty monitor (pictured above).


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.
2) The roped off


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). Fun fact: the ‘bouncer’ doesn’t really do what the name implies.


Downside – Time constraints, depending on your distractibility. The older Clara gets the less she wants 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 you’re 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 participant
thumb_IMG_3137_1024 thumb_IMG_2198_1024


Thoughts – Now we’re starting to have some fun. There are many options here. You see the baby carrier pictured above which can be used for squats, lunges, stairs, chores, …, pull-ups (yes). You see leg raises (also 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 this point you will either be ripped 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


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 so maybe your kid 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. All 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.


Downside – Weather could limit your abilities here, but otherwise this one has been pretty clutch. Clara and I both seem to enjoy it most of the time.
6) The workout buddy


Thoughts – This will no doubt be my favorite as Clara grows, but we’re not quite there yet. We’re blending so many positive events here that it excites me to think about it. You’re being a positive role model for your kid, and teaching her 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.


The cool down – 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 Clara, 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 quite a bit in my childhood. It was monumental for a few reasons: 1) early on I broke my dad’s favorite sunglasses with an incidental elbow to the nose (no blood), 2) 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), and 3) 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.


I will say – if Clara catches me 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 Clara as long as I can.


Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear a story of yours. Let us know by commenting on the post or emailing Mike. If you’ve enjoyed this post please subscribe to the blog so that every new post comes straight to your inbox. Better yet – share it and tell a friend. You can also check out the YouTube channel (MikedUp Blog) or follow Mike on Twitter (@RealMikedUp). We’re glad you’re here. Thanks again and talk soon!


– Mike
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  1. Article is excellent Mike! Thanks for the great insight and humorous exhortations. Some beautiful thoughts regarding parent/kid moments. Plenty of benefits to these moments.

    The parenting benefits to playing sports and teaching life lessons are packed with positive ramifications for developing methods of coping for your kids. Pays off with potentially higher quality of social skills, as your aware, I’m sure. Keep em rolling, Mike!

    1. Thanks for your comments and for reading, Caleb! These are all things you may be able to try out in the near future.

      I’m also glad you got the point that you can be fit and spend time with your kids – they’re not mutually exclusive.

  2. Excellent article Mike, One clarification though is that the actual record for those keeping score at home is 157-1. Lesson 1. Never under estimate your opponent!.I too thought the I would be proud of your well earned and hard fought victory, but I must confess that I was a bit saddened because I knew then that the dynamic was changed forever.

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