How to Exercise When You Have a Toddler

So you’ve had a baby and you want to get into shape, but you can’t seem to find the time… You’re not alone! Below I share my story of fitness with two kids under two. My personal fitness goal right now is to increase my ab and back strength by training 10min a day.

Now vs. Then

When I was in my twenties I used to get up early and go for a jog at least three times a week. I used to also frequent the gym, classes like Zumba, and play organized sports with friends. I was not what I considered a “sporty” type but I liked how being active made me feel: physically, mentally, emotionally. Since I have been at home full-time with two littles under two, I have been finding it extremely hard to do…well, any exercise. That is, until I discovered one little trick.

With One Baby

With one baby under wing, I joined mom & baby events like Moms & Tots Swim. Going to the pool was a great break for me, and moreover, Ansgar loved it.

As soon as Ansgar turned 10mo, he started to walk and with that came to him a new sense of budding freedom. We went to the pool already in our swim suits (win!) But you still have to change when you get out…

Well, the way the change stalls are constructed, there is a foot-high gap between the door and the floor—plenty of room for a walking baby to make his way through. Let’s just say it’s hard to chase a baby when you’re half out of your swimsuit. By the time I came out he was already dousing himself in the showers—with his clothes on.

You House-Clean, Right?

Ok, so maybe you can’t get out of the house with the baby to go exercise. If you house clean, you are also getting exercise. Consider:

“On average it’s possible to burn anywhere from 100-300 calories per hour doing housework, all depending on the type of activity and vigor with which you do it. Use the following estimates, based on a body weight of 150lbs, to help you determine how many calories you might burn doing about an hour of typical daily housework/ cleaning:

  • Sweeping x 10 minutes = 37 calories

  • Vacuuming x 10 minutes = 37 calories

  • Ironing x 20 minutes = 50 calories

  • Mopping x 20 minutes = 42 calories

  • Making beds x 10 minutes = 23 calories

  • Washing dishes x 10minutes = 26 calories

Total time:  1hr 10 minutes = 215 calories” See more here. 

So if you do a full house clean, it is almost the equivalent of a 1h brisk walk, a 1h yoga session, or a light workout at the gym. See the list of activities here.

Going for a Walk

Another easy, no hassle option is to take the kids for a walk. In my case, make sure they are strapped in. Not only does walking help improve fitness, but I find the fresh air helps the kids fall asleep at night. If you’re wondering how many calories you are burning doing this kind of fitness, you can use this calorie counter here. According to this calorie counting site, for a 150lb person (same as above) 1hr of exercise can burn off 250 calories.

Kid’s Play time and “Me-Time”

So now that we are expecting #3, I want to reduce any extra hassle as much as possible but still get some daily exercise in. So I tried doing a small workout in the living room. As soon as the boys saw me on the ground ready to do a push up, they hurried over, delight in their eyes: one wrapped his arms around my neck (“Mommy, back! Mommy, up!”) The other, toothless one, makes a dive for my leg and takes a playful and gummy bite. So belaboured, I end my exercise.

Now that my oldest is older, I find he is not always so eager to go for a long walk. He has other ideas of what he would like to do. So instead we stop at the park. I like the park near us because it is small and quiet. I can see him from ever angle, no matter where I’ve stationed myself.

At the park, I’ve found that I can do my 10min of training while watching my littles toddle around. That’s my trick. Kids playgrounds have excellent equipment for working out. I use the monkey bars to work out my arms and abs. I lean on the structure to do supported push-ups. And then there’s plenty of grass around to stretch on. Unlike at home, my kids are not all over me as soon as I get on the ground…because they’re too distracted by the play structure (or rather, the sandbox).

My Easy Fitness Routine

As moms, it’s time to redefine what we mean by exercise! Is exercise a set (paid) routine or is it the time I take every day to think about and move my body?


Leg rotations/lifts

Arm rotations

Hip rotations

Gentle stretching

Hanging from the monkey bars and/or hanging and lifting my knees to my chest.

Yes, as you can see, my routine is killer simple. But I’ve decreased my expectations and am just enjoying the fact that I am paying attention to my own body for 10min a day . My fitness routine may not lead me to looking like an Instagram star but it does give me a daily perk. Exercise can happen, even with the kids around!

Winter Suggestions

In the winter time, I find it harder to get motivated to go outside. I give myself a pat on the back for pulling the kids in the sled for even fifteen minutes. Other times the sidewalks are clear enough that a short walk in the stroller will do.

When we are inside, I turn on some kids music and the boys and I “dance”—hold hands and go in a circle, pretend to be different animals, and put our hands up in the air and down on the ground. This usually entertains them for fifteen minutes and counts as pretty good exercise for me!

Other Easy Exercise Ideas:

Place a tennis ball between your heels and squeeze in order to help your posture. You can do this exercise while washing the dishes.

Stand with your back flat against the wall as you brush your teeth to improve posture and work your abs.