I have never been a sporty kid. I was a tomboy, but climbing trees did not translate to an aptitude or enjoyment of sports. I stopped running–if a 15 min mile could be called running–in the 7th grade. I played a little tennis in high school.

Then, when I was on the delivery table after the birth of baby #3, I asked the doctor, “How soon can I start training for the Honolulu Marathon?” This, clearly, was madness.

I had used daily brisk walks on the gym treadmill to facilitate my weight loss before I got married. After the twins, breastfeeding 2 kids and walking at the gym took me back to my goal weight. Then my husband (Army guy, so he was a runner and always looking for a challenge) found the book The Non-Runner’s Marathon Trainer which got me excited about the idea of running.

And so, 8 weeks after delivering baby 3 and with 23 month old twins, I started getting up before 5 am to go running with my blind neighbor. Again, this was madness.

Some days (shocker!), I just didn’t have it in my to run that early, so after nap time, I would pack up 3 kids, chalk, balls, bikes, scooters, stroller, and drive to the Tripler track for my run. One day, as the twins were whining from across the track and the wind was blowing so strongly that it was pushing me and the baby backwards, I finally realized this marathon plan was madness. Thus began the long years of trying to figure out the perfect exercise plan for a mom.

The key for a mom to successfully work exercise into her day is to constantly reassess what can work with these kids at these ages, her husband’s responsibilities, and her personal needs. 

In Hawaii, I could run in the glorious outside almost any day at any time if I were willing to take the kids along, or my neighbor would go very early in the morning so we could have some companionable conversation as we jogged. Once a week yoga classes were a night out for me. Until my husband deployed. Then it was the treadmill and music. In Maryland, it just wasn’t possible to exercise because I didn’t have indoor equipment and I had hyperemesis again. In Virginia, early morning quiet and indoor swims or afternoon treadmill walks were best. Then chatty runs at the track with a friend worked better. Exercise videos kept my attention for about 5 minutes. In Kansas I bought a bike and hooked up the trailer for adventures. With 2 kids to tow behind me and a variety of children on bikes, we explored the bike trails of Ft. Leavenworth.  Locking the kids in after lunch and running .8 mile loops in my tiny neighborhood in 100+ degree July weather seemed sane at the time after we moved to North Carolina and lost a baby. It was not sane. It was madness. I ran road races. I gave up yoga, and exercise videos were a bust again along with evening YouTube workouts with Bill. Finally, early morning walks with a neighbor and Fitbit challenges turned out to be the best option both there and in Kentucky. Until baby #3 decided that her PE teacher should train for a triathlon with her. I won’t bore you with the details except to say that I was the penultimate finisher. I’m back to walking. Or, at 23 weeks pregnant, waddling.

Looking over what has worked for me across the years there are two defining elements: ease and flexibility. 

I’m *not* an early riser, but I have done it if I felt it was the best option.

I do not like sweating in my house, but I have done it if I felt it was the best option.

I do not like running, but I have done it if I felt it was the best option.

I don’t like leaving the house, but I have done it if I felt it was the best option.

Our budget is tight, but we have invested in good running shoes or a treadmill if we felt it was the best option.

He doesn’t have a lot of free time, but Bill has watched the kids if we felt it was the best option.

Fancy equipment and classes for a more skill oriented sport have never been, for us, a best option.

I am a cookie cutter girl, but there is no cookie cutter answer to how to exercise as a mom. You have to just do it.