A Mom’s Guide to Stay Active After Kids

Just because you have kids, doesn’t mean you need to give up being you. Here are my keys to stay active after kids.

When I was in college, I loved playing sports. I was on an intramural soccer team, an indoor soccer team, and played women’s flag football. When you add in spur of the moment games of ultimate frisbee or group hikes in the mountains, I was always super active.

Then, I got married and moved to a new city. Suddenly gone were the days of team sports. Yet, my husband and I were still fairly active – hiking, biking and running.

Next, in the natural course of events, I got pregnant. I stopped exercising, you know, just until the morning sickness wore off. Well, three months turned into 9 months. Then I had a newborn and was overwhelmed with being a new mother. As you can imagine, staying active wasn’t really my top priority. By the time my body had recovered postpartum, I felt like chasing my little one around all day was active enough.

My story is not particularly unique. Actually, it’s fairly common. But if you want to stay active after kids, how do you go about it?

Here are a few ways I have found to help me stay active after kids. I hope they help you lead a more active life. Just remember, there’s never a better time to start than now.

Oh, and in case you were wondering about the picture at the top, I bought my road bike when I was eight months pregnant, but didn’t ride it until after the baby was born.

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My first bike ride

Don’t Give Up What You Love

When I wrote about smart fitness goals, I said, “Just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you have to do it. Smart fitness goals are goals that you actually want to do.”

If you want to stay active after kids, you should start with what you love. How can you incorporate your interests into your life?

Personally, my passion is soccer. I started playing soccer when I was eight and have just always loved to play. But when I got married, I moved to a new city and didn’t find a new team. So I just stopped playing, like most adults seem to do.

Our lives get busy and we simply give up. About three years later, I was invited to play again, and I fell in love with soccer all over again. I’m not nearly as good as I was when I was younger, but I love playing.

For mothers, staying active after kids can be especially challenging. When I started playing soccer again, I worked so hard to get myself back to my old self. Then, I got pregnant again.

To me, the hardest part is going back after having a baby. Around six months postpartum with each of my kids, my old teammates would approach me about playing again. Part of me felt like I should already be back into shape before I started, but it’s best just to start. Else, I’d have put it off forever.

Whatever it is, follow your passion. And don’t wait put it off. Feel free to buy a new road bike when you are 8 months pregnant like I did. Always remember, to be a good mom you don’t need to give up what makes you, you.


Sneak Free Moments

I started outlining this post a few months ago while my oldest was taking swimming lessons. I was sitting poolside writing when I noticed a mom tucked in the corner of the building. She had her yoga mat out and was settled into Downward Facing Dog. That mom understood the value of a free moment.

Those small moments in your day really can add up over time. Small moments are great for yoga, cardio, weights, or even just a walk around the block.

Free moments don’t necessarily need to be small amounts of time. My oldest daughter went to preschool three mornings a week last year. That gave me a free window where I only had two children at home. So you can imagine most of my jogging happened on those mornings.

For some people, a free moment means getting up early or staying out late. Most of the time, my soccer games don’t start until my kids are already in bed.

If you take the time to really analyze your day, I’m sure you can find some free moments that will allow you to stay active after kids.

Related: The Importance of Setting Smart Fitness Goals


my first 5k

Take Turns with Your Spouse

One of the easiest ways to stay active after kids is to trade off activities with your spouse. My husband watches the kids while I play soccer. I watch the kids when he goes skiing.

Make sure you both get the time you need. It doesn’t have to be split perfectly 50/50. When I train for a 5K as he trains for a marathon, obviously, his training will be more time-consuming. You just need to ensure that your priorities are balanced and you treat each other’s choices with respect.

Even though I think my husband’s preferred activities sound crazy sometimes (I’m going to snowshoe to the top of a mountain carrying my snowboard and then ride my snowboard down), if that is his current goal, then I will support him. Similarly, I expect to get no comments from him when my fitness goal is to run a mile in under 15 minutes.

For this to work, you and your husband need to be equal partners. Your spouse should be just as able to watch the children as you. They might do things differently, and that’s okay.

My kids play a whole lot more computer games when Dad’s in charge, I have to accept that’s one of his ways to bond with them. We each have our different ways, and it’s great for the kids to enjoy the differences you and your spouse bring to the table.

Get a babysitter

Although taking turns with your spouse can be great, sometimes it’s really just worth it to get a babysitter. If you like to workout at a gym, join one that has child care provided. Then your kids get a playtime somewhere interesting while you get a workout in.

When my husband is out of town and I have a soccer game, I just pay someone to watch my kids. Or, oftentimes, I want to go out and do something with my husband. I think of spending money on a babysitter as an investment in my life.

Even so, babysitting doesn’t always have to cost money. One of my fitness goals this year is to hike to the top of Mount Timpanogos. That’s a 15-mile hike that takes all day to complete.

No way am I going without my husband (who I lovingly refer to as my pack mule). Before paying someone to watch my kids all day, I’ll ask family and friends. With a long day like that, I generally prefer to trade babysitting. I’ll offer to watch their kids for a full day so they can go out on an adventure.

Related: Four Tips for Your First Time at the Gym


Stay Active After Kids: Family Bike Ride

Include the Kids

So far I’ve mostly talked about ditching the children in order to stay active after kids. Let’s face it: sometimes you can’t bring the kids. I’m not taking my baby when I go mountain biking or skiing. Even if I could, often it’s more convenient to just do it on my own.

However, when you let your kids join in on the fun, you’re teaching them the importance of an active lifestyle. My kids love it when my husband does cardio workouts at home. Just picture three little kids trying to do burpees with Daddy. The baby prefers to sit on him while he does crunches

Not only does it give you a chance to bond as a family but also it’s training them to love what you love. More than the toys I buy them, I know my kids will remember our family hikes and bike rides. And by teaching them to hike at a young age, they’ll be excellent hikers when they are older. So much so that I’ll probably struggle to keep up with them.

Own the Right Supplies

Realistically, if you want to stay active after kids, you need to invest in the right supplies. Cheap equipment is better than nothing, but if you can afford to, invest in nice pieces that will last. Scour the classifieds and garage sales for gently used if you can. Here are a few items we own that have been worth every penny.

Bob Double Jogging Stroller
If you are a runner and ever think you’ll more than one kid, a double jogger is a must. Without our Bob Double Jogging Stroller, I would never be able to go running. The large rear wheels make it such a smooth ride when running on sidewalks. It handles fabulously and is such high quality that it stands up to the test of time. We bought ours used 6 years ago, and it still looks amazing.

Thule Chariot Bike Trailer
We’ve gone through a number of bike trailers over the last few years because we were never really happy with the quality of the ones we had. Finally, we decided to invest in a Thule Chariot bike trailer. We love that it is a bit roomier so we can even easily fit our older children if we want. Even used, it’s a bit of an investment. However, if you both run and bike, then you can buy one of these with a jogging kit conversion instead of buying both a double jogger and a double bike trailer.

Trail a Gator
My mother-in-law bought this for us once we had three kids, and we absolutely love it. A Trail-Gator is simply a bar that attaches a child’s bike to an adult bike. The bar is detachable and folds up decently small. If you are out on a family ride, you can let your child start out on their own and when they get too tired, you can just hook their bike up and away you go. Similarly, you can use a Co-Pilot Bike Trailer which is just an extension to your own bike.

Baby Backpack Carrier
We have an old Kelty backpack carrier, which has been a game changer for us. I know a lot of people use a baby carrier when hiking, but I’ve always found they put a ton of strain on my shoulders. A proper hiking carrier will place the weight on your hips. Our Kelty one is no longer sold, but if I were to buy one now, I would go for something like this.

Kids Camelbak Backpacks
Once your kids get old enough, it’s time for them to start carrying their own water. Our older three each have their own hydration backpack for hikes. My oldest son has the CamelBak Scout backpack which is a bit roomier and can fit a sweatshirt easily. My younger two each have a Camelbak Mini M.U.L.E. which really only has space for their water and a few snacks, but is the perfect size for little ones.

What is your biggest struggle when trying to stay active after kids?

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