Use these no-prep, kids activities to get your workouts in as a busy mom! Learning how to exercise with a toddler is crucial to staying consistent with your workouts and achieving goals.
Plus, there are a ton of benefits of working out with kids! Having a list of ideas to entertain kids in the gym as well as ways to exercise with a toddler!
How To Work Out With A Toddler
Truth be told, no matter which kids' activities you have, working out with a toddler is still going to be chaos.
The first step is learning to embrace the chaos! Know that there will be interruptions for diaper changes, songs, meltdowns, and more.
After you get over that hurdle, most of the time you have two options when it comes to how to exercise with a toddler:
- learn ways to exercise with a toddler
- use the tips below to get your workouts in while your kids are mildly distracted
While I do a bit of both, most of the time I opt for letting my kids play in the gym with me getting my workout in around them. It's not easy, and over the last five years, it's taken some getting used to.
However, it keeps me consistent and that's what's important.
The gym is a place for the kiddos to be silly, laugh, climb or swing. I know a lot of people use something like a BabyBjorn travel crib to put their babes or toddlers. However, I think they need more than just being stuck in something.
This is where they learn on their own and have free reign over what they wish to do (versus me handing them a book and telling them what to do with it).
Benefits Of Working Out With Kids Around
While many times moms are looking for "me time", if that's the mindset it becomes a bit more challenging to stay consistent to multiple workouts per week.
Instead, let your kids join your workouts and reap the benefits:
- it encourages independent play
- it sets an example
- letting them join keeps them active!
Learn more about why working out with a toddler is so important.
How To Exercise With A Toddler: Zero Prep Gym Activities
When it comes to working out with kids, I opt for having some easy, zero-planning kids activities on hand. These activities only happen in the gym. This is because then the kids get excited to do them (instead of being bored).
However, know that your toddler is not going to sit down with a coloring book for a full forty-five-minute workout.
So, while these kids activities are great, if you want to be successful working out with a toddler you need to also:
- Let them play. Let them swing, carry weights, or make slides with bands. Don’t confine them to an area. It won’t work.
- Let them lead. Give them a few activities to chose from but don’t force them.
- If a kid brings you a book or toy to help. Stop your workout and read. Yes, it sucks. But the only way for them to stay content there is to know you’re still there to help.
- Laugh, a lot. Play games with them during your rest times. Make fitness fun. Never let your kids see you “punishing” yourself with a workout
- Make sure your workouts are a reasonable length (hour-long workouts are way overrated)
- Keep the language positive. When your toddler asks, “why are you doing that mommy”, don’t you dare say “because mommy needs to lose ten pounds” or any other self-diminishing crap. Stick with “it helps keep mommy strong, so I can pick you up” or “because this is fun/playtime to mommy”. Working out is a gift, don’t forget it.
Kids Activities To Do In The Gym
This one sucks but it’s always a hit! I keep a sticker book in the gym and googly eye stickers (they’re even more special for some reason) and often even my one-year-old grabs it. Will the stickers end up on your floor? Yes. Sometimes there is a price to pay for your workout.
Or, draw a heart on a piece of paper and have your toddler stick the stickers on the line to make a heart.
We obviously have an assortment of books in the gym. When it comes to activity ideas for kids’ books are the best ones! Lift the flap, noise-making, anything they love. Both my girls love to “read”.
Cars & Race Track
My toddler loves to make “slides” out of the resistance bands on the bench, but her racetrack works too. She’ll set it all up and zoom cars around for a good fifteen minutes.
Snow In A Bowl
This was a hit last year and I’ll use it again this year! I grabbed a towel, filled a bowl with snow, and gave them cups. It made a wet mess, but mama got her workout in.
If you have a whiteboard easel that’s awesome! If not, a tin pan with magnetic letters is genius. I’ve not idea why but magnets are hilarious and if you use the alphabet ones, they’re learning a bit!
Any kind of stacking blocks or our favorite: magnetic blocks are AMAZING in the gym.
This activity gives you more than five minutes and helps them be creative. I love looking at everything the girls build (and am often mildly impressed).
Truthfully, I suck at these #slackermom Every so often I’ll give my baby a bin of random crap I found in the kitchen but otherwise, I suck.
I hope you’re better than I am because sensory bins rock when it comes to working out at home.
This is where allowing your kids to play in the gym is crucial. If you can, grab a blanket (I use a yoga mat) and drape it over something (anything). Building forts is super fun for the kids and again, gets them distracted.
Get The Kids Involved
My girls (even my youngest at one) love working out with me. If I’m doing a resistance band exercise, they both get their own bands and do it with me.
I have my toddler count my reps or hold a stopwatch. We practice handstands together or squats. Let them help and mimic (so long as it’s safe). It’s super cute and definitely helps develop a love of fitness!
Ways To Exercise WITH A Toddler
The other option when it comes to having kids in the gym is to do workouts that involve them!
Learn to work out with the kiddos and show them how much fun it can be. Check out this awesome mommy and me workout.
Some great exercises to do with your toddler are:
- Push-ups with baby kisses
- Bear crawl races
- Squats holding the toddler
- Planks with them on you
- Squat and press with the baby or toddler
All of the exercises above involve your kids while allowing you to get some movement in. Personally, I just have my kiddos join in to whatever workout I am doing that day.
Meaning, they squat, use resistance bands, and basically just run around mimicking me for thirty minutes. These are all great exercises to be more active with your toddler.
Likewise, they show your toddler that fitness can be FUN.
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How Can I Exercise With My Toddler And Baby?
The transition from one to multiple kiddos can be overwhelming. My advice is to obviously cater to the babes needs and then have your toddler join you in your workout.
Meaning, get the baby settled (sleeping, or comfy on a play mat etc) then strive for a 15-minute workout and have your toddler join in.
5 Minute workouts are also helpful when you're just starting.
Another great way to get in workouts as a busy mom is to invest in some of the options below.Sometimes, a straight workout will just be too much. Some other ideas are:
- invest in a running stroller and get outside!
- have some no equipment workouts on hand to do at the park while your kids play
- again, keep the purpose of workouts play-based so that your toddler can join you
Don’t forget to pin these Tips On How To Exercise With A Toddler!
In the end, there’s no perfect system to working out at home with kids. It’s crazy, there’s a mess everywhere and it’s loud. But you get it done.
Grab activity ideas that will stimulate your kids instead of just distract them, it gives you more time. And remember, the first rule of working out with kids is: embrace the chaos