It’s no secret that I love working out. It has helped me drop 130 pounds in a year and clears my mind after a hectic day. Working out is my “Me Time.”

Wait a minute, did I really say “Me time?”

If you are a mom, you probably laughed out loud at the phrase “Me Time,” not even understanding what on earth that means. When you become a Mom, “Me Time” becomes as rare as a fine wine– it tastes amazing, but you only get it on special occasions.

Yet, I can’t wait and just workout out on special occasions. I have to work out every day. So, that has led to this being my view from the treadmill many MANY times:

Yes, working out with my kids is a norm in my world. Although, I am blessed to have some great help from my husband and Mom who allow me to workout alone a lot, I often have three little shadows with me at the gym.

At first the idea of working out with my kids in tow was overwhelming and well, frankly annoying to me. I was shaken out of a groove on a treadmill by a loud “I’m bored, can we go home?” more times than I’d like to mention.

However, a strange thing happened along my path to finding my health. I started to think of working out with my kids as less of a chore and more of a gift. Today, I’m happy to report it’s one of the most rewarding things I do. It has become something I want to do, not have to do. Not only does it give them a front row seat along my journey, but it has been amazing for them. I’m not simply talking about the physical effects of working out, for it’s a no brainer that this generation of tablet toting- gaming goons needs to get some physical activity in their lives. But for me, by working out with me, my kids are learning first hand the valuable lessons of health, routine, hard work, confidence, perseverance.

They are watching me find my health.

So how do you work out with your kids and not want to pull your hair out?

Think like a kid. First of all, you need to remember that kids think different than adults. Anything with the word “work” in it is probably not something your kids are going to wake up eager to do. So, when you are planning your kid workouts, remember you need to make them fun, energetic, and more like play. Don’t make them at 5:00 a.m. or 9:00 p.m. or 2 hours in length. Think about what you at age 10 would want to do and go from there.

Don’t expect much, but celebrate a lot. Get rid of expectations, because that is what makes working out with kids so painful. Don’t expect the days you have your kids in tow to be your best workouts ever. Sure, it may not be your fastest mile ever and you may not be able to go in all out “Beast Mode” on the treadmill. Go into these workouts expecting your kids to slow you down, to get bored, to not go as far as you normally go. That way when they surprise you, you can celebrate it, instead of being disappointed by your high expectations.

Improvise. There just certain activities I do in my workouts that my kids can’t or won’t do. This doesn’t mean they still can’t come along with me. If I go out for a long run, I encourage them to ride their bikes while I run. My youngest is at a perfect pace with my run. My older two are much faster, so I set a rule that they need to check back for me every few minutes and if they can’t see me, then they need to stop until I catch up.

Don’t spend a lot of time on one activity. My kids do not have long enough attention spans to really do any activity for a long period of time. So, when I work out with them we move around a lot. A good rule of thumb is to not spend more than 10 minutes on one particular activity. Recently, my workout with my kids consisted as follows:

10 minute light jog to the YMCA

10 minutes of lifting weights with light dumbbells

10 minutes of riding the stationary bike.

10 free time/break while I did the elliptical

10 minute walk around the track.

10 minute walk home.

By breaking up my schedule, I got in my 60 minute workout without them even knowing it.

Find fun ways to work out. Use your kid workout days to try something new. My daughter loves to go to Pound class where we work out and rock out with drum sticks. My boys come along with me when I go to Airrobics at our local trampoline park. Want to work on some arm strength? Go to a local park and do the monkey bars.

Let them be the trainer. With my middle son, I find that he is more likely to workout with me if he has some control in the process. So I often let him be the trainer and guide our workouts. This usually leads to races around the track, or other competitive type workouts. But he loves that he actually gets to take charge and boss me around a bit!

So all you busy moms out there, stop trying to figure out how to find time to workout because of your kids and incorporate them in the process. You’ll get in more workouts and be a better mom for it! I promise it will be an amazing journey for all of you.

Mandi Richards

Mandi Richards is a full time mom and full time civil litigation attorney on a never ending mission to find the perfect balance between a busy family life and hectic professional life. As a working mom of three beautiful and busy children (ages 10, 9, and 7) her life is always chaotic but she wouldn't have it any other way.  She resides in Bettendorf, Iowa with her husband, Todd, and children. When she is not preparing for trial or spending long hours in her favorite Dance Mom/Baseball Mom roles, Mandi is an avid writer, scrapbooker, and photographer who loves to workout, decorate, and party plan. In the summer of 2016, Mandi set out on amazing mission to change her lifestyle and to date has lost over 120 pounds. Follow along with her incredible journey on  Her goal is to inspire all mothers out there that even with all we have to juggle it is not only possible, but completely doable, to reach our goals and change our lives.