“Just Make Time”…and do 10 other things to make it work.

With Daddy
This picture, of course, has nothing to do with the entry. But it’s a great one and I wanted to share.

I think what bugs me a lot about people who exercise, is when they say, “If you want to do it, you’ll make time.” Like, you know, it’s just that easy. I know they have good intentions, and I know that most of my irritation with that statement is more about me being bitter that they make it sound so easy, but I think that – truthfully? It’s a little more complicated than that. At least in my life, and I’m assuming in yours.

First – you have to find the exercise you want to do. That’s the most important. No one is going to do exercise unless there is some sort of appeal there. You won’t ever catch me riding a bike. Or swimming. So, if what you want to do doesn’t come with childcare, or isn’t easily doable with kids, then there are more factors than just making the time.

Running is about the only thing I can stick with, and usually only if I’m training for something. Like a 5K. Or a half-marathon. But there’s no childcare for running and I have no desire to try to run with a running stroller. So, I have to find time to run when MrZ is home. Then comes the battle of the guilt when, on some nights, he’s had a hard day at work and I’m not sure if it’s fair to leave the kids with him or not when he really needs a break. Or maybe there are 90 million other things going on because, once MrZ is home? That’s when all of the kid’s extracurriculars start. Soccer games, rehearsals, meetings – those things all happen after work hours, eating away at my running time.

Then there’s the dark issue. I am scared of the dark. SERIOUSLY. Now, last night I ran with Sweetie and that helps, but still. SCARED OF THE DARK. I don’t like it.

Finally – there’s the fact that if you’re adding a 30-minute or 1-hour workout into what is surely an already busy day. What do you shift to allow that? Do you stay up later to make sure you still get everything done you needed to get done, or do you not do some of it? Or do you beg for extra help from your family which – AGAIN – adds to the guilt issues. I don’t have guilt issues asking for help when I’m doing stuff for other people: carpooling the kids, volunteering, etc. But when I’m doing something solely for myself? Like working out? Total guilt issues.

I’m not saying any of the roadblocks I face getting out the door are insurmountable. And I know most of them are in my head – mainly the guilt issues and the fear of the dark. But my point? It’s not just about Making the Time. If you are already busy (and aren’t we all?) then you have to find a good system. It takes a lot of trial and error and a lot of times the errors make us quit. The do me, anyway. The gym with a daycare? FAIL. The getting up early to run? FAIL. The begging for help from family to help compensate for the hours I’m working out? SOMETIMES FAIL. It’s not always easy.

I guess I just want some people like me, who don’t feel like it’s that easy – JUST MAKE THE TIME – to know I understand. Too many factors besides time. But yesterday? I made it work. I took the dog to conquer my fear of the dark. I squeezed the run in between drop-off and pick-up of E from rehearsal. I took the guilt of leaving the kids home with Donnie when he had a long day at work AND was sick – and stuffed in somewhere in the back of my head to worry about later. (Try it, when the voice in your head says, “You’re being a shitty wife,” try to ignore it. Sometimes it works for me! Ignoring myself, who knew?) I put on my shoes, strapped on my iPhone queued up to Harry Potter and let Jim Dale talk me through a 2-mile run.

It took more than just making time. But I found a way around those other factors and did my run – ONE NIGHT. Will I make it work tomorrow? Who knows. That’s my point. You try. Try different scenarios until you find one that works one day. Maybe you’ll be lucky and the same scenario will work the next day. I don’t mind running so much. It’s the one form of exercise that doesn’t hurt me too bad. (Probably because my speed is just one small notch above walking.) I got to zone out to Jim Dale, bond with my dog, and get closer to the 5K distance I’ll be running on October 16th.

Will I be able to do the same thing again tonight? Who knows. That’s what I like about this bootcamp, it’s the “no excuses hour”. The kids are still in bed and I’m not making MrZ do anything. And I’m with other grownups so the dark is not scary. But the bootcamp is expensive and I can’t do it forever. Maybe another month, but not much more. I have to get used to doing other things too, hence the trial to find a good time to run.

I guess I’ll just try every day to do more than just Make The Time. I also find someone else to wash dishes or bathe the kids, get a bodyguard to save me from the boogeyman, hire a therapist that tells me it’s OKAY to leave the kids with the husband once in awhile while I do something selfish, and make sure I don’t leave anyone stranded at soccer, school, or rehearsal. And if I manage all of that? Then I totally deserve the beer I drink before going to bed. And, really – isn’t it always about earning your beer?

24 thoughts on ““Just Make Time”…and do 10 other things to make it work.”

  1. Of course it’s not always as simple as “if you want to do it, you’ll make time.” But… sometimes it is.

    I like tv, and your post this week about how you fit in all your tv watching made me miss tv a little. But we don’t own a tv anymore. It’s really important to me to exercise and put more time into making healthy meals for my family; less so to watch tv. This makes me sound all judgy and holier-than-thou, but that’s totally not what I mean- just that everyone has the same number of hours in the day, and we all have to prioritize.

    My house is messier than I’d like (it’s pretty messy), and I don’t ever do art projects with my kids. So you’re miles ahead of me there. Everyone prioritizes differently, and there’s no right answer- and it’s impossible to have it all. I can’t work and get 8 hours of sleep and exercise and have a clean home and cook healthy meals and read books and spend a lot of time relaxing with my husband. Oh, and play with the kids and stay on top of the laundry!

    But it really is about earning my beer. No run, no beer!

  2. People who are fanatical about exercise? They have no acceptable excuses. Everything can be overcome. Which is great. FOR THEM.

    I’m in your boat. With my kid in daycare all week, leaving him for an hour of ME time doesn’t seem fair. Or if I wait till the kids are in bed, I’m robbing my spouse of spousal time. I don’t think any of those are less important than ME time.

    I totally get this.

    I’m also running on the 16th. See you there!

  3. I agree that is all a matter of priorities…for me I WANT to be able to exercise, but it seems there is always something MORE important to me. I work full time outside the house. I am up at 5:00 already just to be ready to be out the door by 7:00 (three people, one shower, we need to time the morning perfectly) There is no way in hell I am getting up any earlier than that to exercise! I try to take some time during the day, eat lunch at my desk and go for a walk or go to the gym- but its hard, I have demands that I can’t put off. Plus its not so much the actual act of exercising, it’s the changing into completely different clothes and then being sweaty and messy for the rest of the day…I certainly don’t have time to shower after exercising. After work there are practices and games and meetings and dinner that needs to be made, homework that needs to be monitored (or rather kids that need constant prodding to get it done), animals to be taken care of, house to be cleaned (we have a dog and seven cats, keeping the house clean is a full time job!)- those are all more important to me. I feel GUILTY if I take time to go exercise when there are 20 other things I could be doing!

  4. Funny you mention this because I have been struggling with this very same thing this week. I had a baby 5 months ago and I need to start losing some more baby weight and exercise will be the thing that gets me to where I need to be. Of course now I need to make the time. My husband and I work conflicting schedules so he doesn’t get home until 10 p.m. at night. Going for a run at night is an obvious no. I don’t want to purchase a jogging stroller and I don’t want to join another gym to put the kids in another daycare for an hour. Oh yea and I work from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.! Seems like getting up at 4:30 for a 30 min run seems the most logical. I need to figure out where to make time! Urgh!

  5. I’m probably what you would call a fanatical exerciser: 6 days a week, 30-60 minutes. It’s the only thing I really do for myself, and I know that I miss out on the opportunity to do other things with my kiddos because of my exercise schedule. But it’s ingrained-my entire family competes in triathlons, marathons, soccer, etc. It’s what we do.

    I hope you find the time to keep running! Believe me, I know how hard that can be.

  6. Thanks so much for this post Kim! I feel the exact same way. I need to get back on the workout train. I used to run with my baby, but he’s not a baby anymore at 2.5 and 35 lbs. So now I have to find time when my hubby is not working.

  7. What worked for me when my kids were little (like your younger two) was to get up half an hour earlier than everyone else and work out to a video then. If one of the kids woke up and needed something, my husband was on duty for that half hour. Yes, it’s hard to get up when you’re already getting up early; it may not work for EVERYONE, but it does work for a lot of people.

    During periods when I was unemployed and home with kids, I’d let them watch a video — one I knew they’d be so glued to that they wouldn’t consider leaving the couch — while I’d exercise. Since you’re using the TV as a babysitter, this means that you’re not leaving the house and you’re exercising indoors — not always practical for runners. But I’ve always been one to aim for balance and variety — and I don’t like running — so strength videos, yoga videos, even indoor walking videos work for me. This strategy could be used to get something ELSE done, so that you could run another time. ;) I think you’ve even done this before. :p

    There are as many strategies as there are people. You like running; that’s great! You’ve found something you enjoy and could stick with, once you figure out what strategies will work best for getting it done.

    Do you have a neighbor or friend who would trade “playdates” so that you could work out while he/she watches your kids? Then on another day you watch his/her kids while he/she “me time” (to exercise or not)?

    And those previous FAILs? Don’t be so quick to dismiss them. They may not have worked on that particular day for a number of reasons out of your control, but might work in the future.

    I said it in a previous post and I’ll say it again. If you’re short on time and want a good workout you can do at home in little space, check out T-Tapp.

  8. This is what I say about reading and TV when people ask how I read so many books or watch so many shows – I make the time. Because DUDE, it is easy to make the time to do something I enjoy as much as TV and books.

    Exercising? I probably say that, too. But it IS harder – I like my routine now, but I love the benefits/after effects even more (i.e. I love feeling good AFTER more than how I feel DURING. Heh.) But, I need to have a 2 hour window – time to get there, actually exercise, then get home and shower. I do not have time for TWO showers, so on the days I exercise, I try to do mornings, so that I am not walking around looking like ass the entire day. It requires careful scheduling and sometimes it is stressful fitting it in.

    This fall has been difficult, because our life is all crazy now with two different school schedules.

  9. I struggle with this exact topic. My husband works night shift so he is not home in the mornings so I can exercise and I already get up at 5:15 to get us out the door by 7:10 and that is a struggle in itself. I have a little time in the afternoon after work but then I am all sweaty and gross and we have obligations in the evening so I don’t have time to reshower and get dressed again for that stuff. I guess the option is to just look disgusting for the evening activities but that thought upsets me so no. By the time everyone is in bed and hubby goes to work I am ready to collapse so the night is out too. I know these are all excuses but they are good ones don’t you think??

    Let me know when you find out the secret because I have not figured out how to make the time and still function as the primary parent in our house.

  10. When my kids were young, I too worked out at home. I would tape Denise Austin to exercise to. We joined the Y and while the kids took swim lessons or whatever sports class, I would work out and then I would go on my own on Sunday morning and the kids had time with just dad. While at the soccer/baseball/football games I would walk around the field especially during all the down time waiting for the game to start. Taking time for yourself is a good thing for everyone; just daddy time for the kids, and a replenishing time for you. After boot camp can you run in that same time instead or will it be dark out? Also, I’m so proud of you for running in 5K events. I’ve only run in one 5K race and I was a nervous wreck beforehand, so never again.

  11. I’m one of those people who make exercise (running also!) a priority. A lot of times, the other things I should do just don’t get done. But it’s certainly easier for me because I don’t have kids. I have no idea how you manage to do all that you do. I think you are on to something with ignoring your guilt! Does Mr. Z actually mind having the kids while you exercise or is the guilt internally-generated? I only run three times a week. It helps keep my knee injury from coming back and it’s plenty to train for races (I trained for a half marathon in July this way). I also have lost some weight with only 3 runs per week. Maybe it would be easier to fit it in if you didn’t think of it as an every day requirement.

  12. I don’t have kids, but I do know how easy it can be to find reasons not to exercise. :-)

    I know you’ve mention that MrZ also trains for a lot of distance races — does he hate the idea of a running stroller? Maybe he could take the little ones on his runs and you can go off and do yours at the same time?

    Do you have a school track nearby that you can use in non-school hours? Running on the track can get pretty boring, but at least you could bring the little ones and they could play in the field or run on the track with you at the same time so you could keep an eye on them and run at the same time.

    One thing that I will sometimes do is exercise while watching television — crunches, pushups, lunges, step-ups. I also have some light free-weights that I can use. It’s not getting a run in, but it does get the blood flowing.

  13. I’ve been doing the Jillian Michaels 30-Day Shred, not only because it’s awesome and tough, but because it is just 20 mins. I get up an hour before the kids so that I can exercise (or chill, depending on the day) and then shower before they wake up. And, since it’s 20 mins, I can usually convince myself to just do it. Plus, it is the no guilt hour, just as you said, because I’m not asking anything of anyone.

  14. I feel your fear of the dark! I’m not so worried about what is out there, I have an awesome headlamp. (petzl tikka XP, it is purple!) I do jump a lot at wind in the bushes, but I’m afraid of getting hit by a car. My dog and I look like a christmas tree with all the flashing led lights and reflective gear I have attached.

  15. It is SO not as easy as “just make the time.” I just had this conversation last night with my husband after, reluctantly and a bit sadly, cancelling my gym membership. It just didn’t seem to be working out (heh) for me to go to the gym, even though they had the daycare for my kids to use. I could just think of a million other things that I needed to do during my exercise time that would stress me out far more than not exercising if I didn’t get them done. It’s not that exercising isn’t a priority for me, it’s just not as high a priority as some other things. Maybe that’s stupid, but it’s true. You’re right, I’ve gotta find what works for me and the stinkin’ gym wasn’t it. Best of luck to you in finding what works.

  16. I am 100% with you on the “make time” issue. When do you “make time”??!! Let’s see, I work Mon-Sat, go to school, and take care of my two kids. Many times my day starts at 5:30 and ends about midnight. I am learning to shift priorities and schedule working out just for me, but man it is NOT easy and I completely sympathize.

  17. Time for any new endeavor has to be subtracted from somewhere. In my case, I now get up at the crack of dawn and walk 3.4 miles at 6 a.m., three times a week. If I weren’t up walking, I’d definitely be sleeping instead.

    Yoga class is trickier. I can go at work twice a week IF nothing else on my schedule conflicts. Any other classes depend on if and when I can shoehorn them into my evening or weekend time.

  18. Your husband has so many happiness crinkles, it makes me happy to look at him.

    I totally agree with everything you said. I know I can’t literally say I “can’t” work out, but the effort it takes is wayyyyyyy more than anything that would start with the word “just.”

  19. I can only tell you what works for me — I get up at 5am, leave the house by 5:10 am to get home by 6. My DH then goes running while I take care of the kids and get myself ready for work. I have to leave by 7, so this gives us just enough wiggle room to get everything done.
    I’ve tried exercising in the afternoon/ evening after work, and for me it has never worked, even before kids. Too many things come up.
    I don’t think that exercising is easy, but I do believe that if it is important, it can work. It does come with trade-offs. For instance, we have not had the tv on in months. I’m not saying this is the right choice, but it works for us.

  20. I know what you mean. I like to exercise in the mornings, because I’m not tired. If I wait until the afternoon or evening, I just feel too pooped. Not to mention, supper has to get made. And I am spoiled and often take a nap when my 3 year old naps, though some days I power through with some coffee so I can go to the gym when my husband gets home.

    And can I just say? You should NOT FEEL GUILTY for taking the time to exercise. I know MrZ just trained for a triathalon. You picked up the slack for him while he was training, no doubt, and I’m sure he is glad to spend some time with the kids while you get your exercise time on. I’m always so appreciative of my husband’s good attitude about keeping an eye on our son so I can work out. So you need to take a big eraser and erase that guilt!

  21. if I don’t exercise in the morning, it ain’t happening. and lately? sleep is winning out in the mornings. argh. I like reading everyone’s thoughts on this, it’s a never-ending dilemma over here.

  22. This issue drives me crazy. Having small children is the opposite of being able to ‘make time’ because they need me all the time. I can’t leave them even when they are sleeping. what about when they are sick. I want to go for a run but my child is home sick from school I can’t take them with me.

    Sure I can go to a gym, but most gyms only have childcare during certain hours. LIke I only have children during certain hours?

    I do make time to exercise, I have to get up at 5am to do so, but only if my husband is home. Because I can leave them all asleep in the house. If he is not home my day of working, fitting in driving to and from preschool and first grade and to extracurricular activities after work, not to mention taking care of our house and paying our bills, does not allow me to ‘make time.’

    I often feel like the fact that i can’t ‘make time’ some days is a guilt trip, but frankly it is a prioritized list. I have small children, and their needs, eating, sleeping, doing homework, have to come before mine.

    Which is why I see a lot of 5ams. I believe in making time for myself and making a happy mama, but my children have to come first. And they always do.

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