Parenting a child on the autism spectrum very often takes the effort of multiple full-time jobs. As a parent, it's also very possible you may work a full-time job on top of parenting. While the rewards of being a parent are great, the strain and hectic schedule that comes with it often makes fitting in acts of self-care, particularly exercise, especially difficult. With all the benefits there are to gain by getting your body physically active, it is well worth it to try different strategies to fit your workouts into your busy life as a parent.
Probably the most time efficient way to fit exercise into your schedule is to participate in physical activities at the same time as your child. If you take your child to the playground regularly, run around and interact with them to get your blood flowing. You can use nearby benches or poles on the monkey bars to get some bodyweight workouts in. Community centers are especially helpful for this since you can engage in a fun, physically engaging game as a family, or use specific workout machines while your kids play with their neighbors nearby.
If your child isn't quite old enough to be out and active very often, or if your workouts are more frequent than your child's, there are plenty of effective workouts you can do just about anywhere, in less than 20 minutes. You can do workouts involving just your bodyweight, such as pushups, pull ups, jumping jacks, tricep dips, core workouts or burpees and combine them into an intense circuit for 10-20 minutes. You can also make use of a medicine ball or dumbbells to add resistance to your workouts. These sorts of exercises are perfect for those moments your child's attention is occupied by their favorite show, a fun activity, or when they are eating. If your child is especially little, you can also invest in a jogging stroller and go on a run around the neighborhood while allowing your child to get some fresh air.
If you prefer time alone to complete a more intense workout routine, and you are an early bird, fit in your workout first thing in the morning before the kids are up. This can include a workout you complete in your living room, or if you have a partner or spouse, you can take turns taking morning runs around the neighborhood or trips to a nearby gym. This will take a little bit of extra discipline, but it will be a great way to get your workout out of the way, in addition to being a perfect way to wake you up.
Beginning and maintaining a set workout routine can be challenging and intimidating at times. It's helpful to start out small and see what works from there. Start adding physical activities to your family schedule, such as a walk around the neighborhood or playing catch at the local park, and work your way up in intensity. Be sure to create a schedule and routine and stick to it like you would with other parts of your schedule. With preparation, intentionality, and discipline, you will find a workout routine that allows your mind and body, as well as your family, to thrive.
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