Working it out... from home

I find this video incredibly inspiring, and inspiration is the first step. I hope to get a little bit more into the details of execution in this post, because that is really the hard part.

The last thing you want to do as a working parent is to add another item to your do-to list. For may of us, exercise may be considered a luxury as much as a shower is when you have a young toddler milling about while feverishly attempting to make that sooner than yesterday deadline. I understand this because I was that parent....

Like most parents who are reading this, we all barely find time to fit everything in from the wash, to the quality playtime to the conference call or project deadline. With regards to exercise and proper portion control I found by taking time away from my daily routine, I am adding some energy and positive power to my physicality and mental processing capabilities. However, driving to the gym, parking the car, and finding care for your "short buddy" disintegrate precious minutes.

I have found a program that works for me from home, and there are plenty out there that may be right for you personally. This program, called the 21-Day Fix, seeks to provide a manageable workout as well as portion guidance, which I find important. The program involves color-coded containers that are sized to the appropriate amount one should consume each day. The design is that you can change fitness lifestyle for the long term by laying this foundation of rethinking your eating and focused exercise efforts.

What can you do as a parent during exercise while your little one is present?

Watch the workout video with your children and discuss the content. There are opportunities to talk about the many facets of why a parent needs time to exercise. In these particular videos, there are 1- to 2-minute warm-up activities. Each exercise is presented by name and is repeated for about one minute.  Parents can bring up ideas about why moving our bodies every day is healthy. For example, one could say "fast movements are good for your heart because they pump the blood through your body FAST. This builds a strong heart!" There is also the idea that these videos have the potential to increase new words per utterance while watching by parents labeling objects and actions (Lavigne, Hanson & Anderson, 2015). For instance, in these, consider possible discussions using “Okay, time for jumping jacks!” or “Can we touch our toes?” or “What’s a sit-up?” when these exercises appear. Asking questions are always helpful during any screen time occurrence. While there are higher rates of interaction in this type of program versus static watching, parental co-viewing roles should not be diminished (Krenn, 2015).

Limit access your workout time to 30 to 60 minutes per day inclusive of the 2 hours per day screen time guidelines recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Working out is great and if you give your kid some television time or an iPad game while you are sweating - think about their media diet too. Most young users will want to play for hours on end. Keep in mind that device interaction is a fun privilege and not an all-day activity or replacement for reading or other supplementary educational activities (Krenn, 2015; Managing Media: We Need a Plan, 2013).

Be humorous during exercise. When adults laugh, it is because they think something is funny, but with a preschool child, this may not be the reason. Often, preschoolers are simply mimicking the laughter of adults (Krenn, 2015). Practically anything that goes against what children consider normal and predictable can tickle their sense of humor (Simons, 2013). For example, woofing like a canine during a “downward-facing dog” yoga pose might seem hilarious to your average youngster! Bonding during a workout can promote strong parental bonds and encourage positive, healthy development (Milteer et al., 2012). And it is good for a laugh. Remember, any movement is great for you even if you have trouble staying focused between push-up sessions. One suggestion is that you and your child(ren) each take turns being the "workout teacher" giving out exercises to your "students" similar to that of the game “Simon Says.”

Help a child with challenging movements - in fact, buy them their own set of weights. Within this particular videos, there are opportunities for them to use weights.  My three-year-old owns her own set of pink 1lb dumbbells and the pre-aerobic mind that she has, said “Mommy, I can lift weights too because I am tough and strong. Watch this!”

Forgive yourself when children find other ways to entertain themselves during this time. When you get your endorphins going, and they content for less than an hour, they can learn patience and delay of gratification as well as witnessing fine examples of healthy habits. Children can learn to be patient and not have you at their beckon call for a short time during the day.

When I took on this challenge last year, at 5'1" I was 122 pounds sluggish and winded by simple activities.  Let's face it I was "sad" in several ways. Some days I did the workouts before my daughter's morning wake-up, others during her two-day per week preschool time and ultimately, if the whole day was tight - I worked out after she went to bed. My food consumption before this "fix" often consisted of what I could find quickly, what she left on her plate, or even the floor (come on we have all done it!). Now, it is much more about eating my "rainbow" of fruits and veggies. Almond butter is also my new best friend. By the end of this thoughtful eating and workout journey, I lost 9 pounds and several inches off my waist and glowed with joy! Since then, I have kept the weight off for a year and a half.

I am a working-raising-my kid-at-home-workout-parent at least five days, if not more, per week. My daughter joins in at times as she likes to "jack it out," (the trainer's term for jumping jacks) or simply plays with her toys, colors or the like. She knows that Mommy needs her "exercise time" because it gives me a power snap of energy to chase her around the house, build snowmen or drag her in a sled for upwards of 90 minutes. That is what I get by healthy eating and training - more smiles, more playtime, more focused concentration time for work duties and more happy memories.

About the Author:
Jamie is CoHatchery's Chief Learning Officer. Jamie holds a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology: Cognitive Studies from Teachers College, Columbia University.  She also holds three Masters degrees in developmental and cognitive psychologies as well as a Bachelor of Science in Art Therapy.  Jamie leads the “Children & Media: Analysis & Evaluation” area of focus at Teachers College, Columbia University, which focuses on research and theories relevant to learning and the development of educational materials for children. She is also a Media & Curriculum Consultant for Maker Studios (overseen by Walt Disney Studios). Her research interest includes cognitive media processing, creative preschool curriculum preparation and culinary cognition.


Krenn, J.L. (2015) Appisode Applications | Psychology Today. Retrieved from ;Krenn J.L. & Hachey, A. C. (Spring, 2015). How Preschool Children and Early Primary Educators Can Promote Positive Life-Long Skills in the Kitchen. Texas Childcare.; Lavigne, H. J., Hanson, K. G., & Anderson, D. R. (2015). The influence of television co-viewing on parent language directed at toddlers. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 36, 1-10.; Simons, C. (2013). Perspectives on the Development of Humor during Infancy, Childhood, and Adolescence. Humor and Aging, 53.; Study: NYC's trans fat ban made people healthier - CBS News. (n.d.). Retrieved from; Young, L. R., & Nestle, M. (2012). Reducing portion sizes to prevent obesity: a call to action. American journal of preventive medicine, 43(5), 565-568.