• Play with kids
  • Do laundry
  • Wash dishes
  • Clean house
  • Tidy up

Does that TO DO list sound familiar?  Considering that some of us have at least 3 loads of laundry to do a day, an insane amount of dishes to wash, and a very dirty house to clean, and considering that when there’s little ones running around, everything takes 3 times as long to complete…  it’s no wonder the majority of busy moms/dads feel like they don’t have time to exercise.  But not having time to do a “traditional” gym workout doesn’t mean that you can’t get any activity in.  That TO DO list that never seems to quite get completed can become a workout in and of itself, if you just follow some rules:

1. Practice proper lifting

Doing laundry can become a great leg & butt workout, if you just stop bending over any which way to pick up the laundry and do some proper deep squats.  If you’re putting clothes on the line (don’t we wish?), do a deep squat every time you have to pick up an item.  If you have little, little ones, wear them in a carrier, and you have some weight added to your squats right there.  If you’re putting clothes in a dryer or washing machine, the rule still applies.  Put the basket of clothes on the floor and do a deep squat every time you pick up an item or put one in the basket.  In fact,  if you wear your baby, this is the  most comfortable way to do the laundry, for both of you.

Keep in mind that deep squats may not be advisable for those with previous knee injuries.  Always speak to your doctor or physiotherapist about deep squats if you have had injuries before.  Also keep in mind that in order for this rule to be effective, you have to be doing a proper squat in order to protect your knees and get a workout while avoiding injury.  Don’t let your knees go beyond your toes when doing a squat, be it deep or not.  The easiest way to do this is to stick your bum out.  Keep chest out and proud as well.

2. Have housework rules that are tied to physical activity

Make your own rules about physical activities you can and will do while going through your house.  Here are some examples, but be creative and come up with your own as well.

  • Every time you go through a door, squeeze your abs.
  • Every time you go to the sink, you must do 5 push ups on the sink before beginning your work
  • If you have stairs in your house, only bring one item up the stairs at a time – this means more stair walking for you.
  • Speed walk through your house rather than doing the regular pace walk when doing housework.  Not only will this give you extra exercise, it will also save you time in the long run.
  • You get the picture.

3. Play childhood games with your children

If you’re a homemaker and have children, and playing with those children isn’t at the top of your TO DO list, you should sit down and have a closer look at your priorities.  The reason most of us stay home with the children is so they’ll have extra time with us.  If you’re spending all of that time trying to keep them away from you, then something is not right.  I always say, if I have to choose between housework and playing with my kids, playing with my kids will always win. When my kids are older, they won’t remember the house was clean, but they will remember if I played and had a good time with them.  So put down the laundry basket and play with your kids.

Think about games you played when you were a child.  Many of them were active.  Think tag and hide and seek.  My daughter loves playing “chase” – her version of tag, where I have to chase her around and have to keep chasing her even after I’ve tagged her. I don’t mind; at 3 years old, my daughter is actually a pretty good runner when she wants to be, and I get plenty of exercise – especially considering I’m usually carrying around her 23 lb brother in the carrier (yes, I make sure he’s safe in there and that I’m not running too fast).

4. Have some fun!

My family has a tradition of having a “dance party” after dinner on most days – we put on one or two songs and dance around like wild folks in the living room.  It’s lots of fun and gets everyone moving.  The best part is that no matter how badly we’re dancing, our little girl and boy still think we’re the most fun people around.

We also go to the playground with our daughter whenever it is nice outside.  We let her have lots of fun, but we still get some fun in as well – mommy goes on a swing while daddy plays with the little girl on a slide, daddy goes wild on the monkey bars while mommy pushes the little girl in the swing.  Oh, while we’re on this topic, if your little girl/boy wants to go on the “big girl/boy” swing and they’re too little for it, don’t say no.  Take them to the swing, and then hold on to them and the swing as you do lateral lunges while pushing the swing – you’ll have to do this to keep him/her safe, and you’ll be getting exercise at the same time.  Make sure to keep your back straight, though!

5. Always take at least 10 minutes to yourself at the end of the day.

We’re moms/homemakers.  We never have time for ourselves.  But our partners are big boys/girls and can totally handle the kids for 10 minutes, especially if those 10 minutes happen after the kids have gone to sleep.  With all the activity you’ll be getting doing your housework in the ways mentioned above, you really should think about doing some stretching.  10 minutes is more than enough to warm up with some jumping jacks and do some stretching afterwards.

So go ahead… lose your excuse and make your housework into workout work.  And have some fun!