Have you ever tried to do a plank on lego bricks?
I don’t recommend it.
The simple problem is that it’s easy to get side-tracked from your daily fitness fix when you have a velcro baby, a messy (and sometimes suicidal) toddler and the need for a household routine that leaves everyone alive, fed and clothed. Trying to do a fitness routine surrounded by plastic toys, playdough, biscuit crumbs and plates is enough to put anyone off. Add in the sleep deprivation and you probably think “screw it” on a regular basis. 30 minutes of exercise? That’s precious nap time!
What did your grandmother do?
What’s interesting is that 40 years ago, women were generally fitter and slimmer than today. Some of that was probably down to diet, but a lot of it was also down to simple housework. Machines and appliances were still expensive and scarce. No hoover? You swept, mopped and beat the rugs. No washing machine? You may have had to do it by hand or walk down to the laundrette. You would have also done a lot more walking in general – in the 1970’s half of all UK households did not have access to a car.
The Motherhood of Multitasking.
If a formal exercise routine is yet another chore, start mixing it up with your household mess for a less crowded, cleaner day.
1. Got a baby? Get a sling.
Seriously, it will release you from the sofa and revolutionise your life. I have hoovered the stairs with my son on my back before (it sent him to sleep!). Slings also allow you to actually finish a meal and stroll down to the shops with a very happy child.
2. Use music
This is a great way to involve older children and makes chores less boring. I keep reggae tracks for unloading the shopping, dance and club music for cleaning the floors and soul for sorting out the bedrooms. The rule of thumb is the faster the music, the faster you tend to go.
3. It’s not cleaning. It’s a house workout.
Just take your pick from the list below.
– Hoovering: around 200 calories per hour.
Ramp it up with lunges or squats. If your hoover is cordless, try dancing with it!
– Sweeping/mopping: 190 calories per hour.
Great for the abs – rotate between small and wide circles and remember to switch arms regularly.
– Run (or walk) up and down the stairs: 500 calories per hour
Do a house declutter: rotate toys from the bedroom to the sitting room, strip sheets, empty bins and take clothes upstairs. Aim to get up and down those stairs 5 – 10 times in a row. Bonus points if you squat to grab objects.
– Washing dishes? Do calf raises (move onto your toes for 3 – 10 seconds, whilst maintaining your feet hip-width apart). Obviously, this will only work whilst wearing flat shoes. Aim for a set of 10 at a time with a minute’s rest.
– Cleaning worktops/cupboard doors/windows: 180 calories per hour.
Switch between arms and stretch high and low. Wet wipes make a surprisingly good cloth in a pinch.
– Weeding/digging over your garden: up to 300 calories per hour.
In an ideal world. When your toddler has not nicked your trowel and you had to stop your infant eating earthworms.
– Making a brew. Stick a note on your kettle to remind you to do pelvic floor exercises. If you are anything like me, you will probably be boiling it at least twice a day: don’t let that time go to waste!
Pro tip: Get a thermos flask for your tea. It stays hot and prevents the kids from knocking hot water everywhere.
The key to keeping fit is to raise your heart rate whilst moving. There’s no law that says you need special fitness equipment or a special place to do it. So choose your music and get ready to rock!