20 Exercises I Didn't Even Know I Was Doing As A Parent

by Christina Antus
Originally Published: 
home workout
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It wasn’t until I got a Fitbit that I realized how much I move around my house. I mean, I am moving—like, up to 6 miles a day moving, burning hundreds of calories a day moving. Every day, I’ve been getting a home workout, and I didn’t even know it. All this time I thought I was just cleaning someone’s pee off the floor. I didn’t think I was walking up to a half a mile between cleaning it up, re-dressing my child, and starting the wash. That doesn’t even include the squats and arm lifts that go with it.

So change my activity level from moderate to kick-ass because of…

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1. Laundry Toting

In addition to fetching clothes from all over the house and hauling baskets up and down the stairs, I often have a toddler in one arm and a laundry basket in the other. Or one toddler in the laundry basket and another one clinging to my leg like a miniature spider-monkey.

2. Chasing Kids

No Olympic athlete runs faster than a 1-year-old with a half-eaten quesadilla that he just pulled out of the trash.

3. Tantrum Stabilizing

Safely lifting, stabilizing, and hauling a tantrumming toddler up the stairs requires skill and strength. I hate to brag, but I’ve never seen this done in a Jillian Michaels DVD.

4. Making Meals

This isn’t the Food Network. I am not the only one in my kitchen preparing a gourmet meal for a panel of judges. I am dodging two kids who are running around the house like a herd of buffalo while dragging around another toddler who wrapped himself around my leg like a tiny python.

5. Picking Up Toys

This is an all-day project, and there are easily 20 reps of squats in here as well as fancy lunges for toys wedged in places you can only reach upside down and with three toes.

6. Getting Everyone Ready to Go

The only difference between me and a pinball is there are no blinking lights or fun carnival sounds when I get a child ready. Toss in a rise in blood pressure to get out of my house on time, and I’ve burned at least 1200 calories.

7. Looking for Misplaced Coffee

This isn’t really even low-impact cardio; it’s more like wandering. It’s also confusing and nerve-racking. I consider the coffee search an extremely slow marathon—26 miles over the course of the next 18 years.

8. Bedtime

When you earn a Fitbit Helicopter badge for climbing 500 feet of stairs in a one-week period, it means people need to be getting their own crap after bedtime.

9. Sweeping

The intensity of this home workout is based on two factors:

1. How much stuff is on your floor. 2. How much time you have to clean it up before naps are over, and this becomes a game of “who can be the first to get to the dirt pile.”

10. Looking for Children

These are the children who are misplaced while I’m looking for my coffee and dreaming of bedtime. It’s brisk walking around the house to find them in rooms they’re not supposed to be in, touching things that don’t belong to them.

11. Grocery Shopping Without a List

Because my brain is made up of scrambled eggs, if I don’t have a list I’m running all over the store like an idiot hoping the things I need will just toss themselves off the shelf and into my basket.

12. Playing Outside

If you’re like me and you have that one odd child who likes to walk for the sake of walking, you can easily toss in a few thousand miles if you play your cards right.

13. Toting Kids Around

It doesn’t matter if this is carrying, toting in a pack, piggyback, or hauling upside down—it counts. They’re all heavy.

14. Finding Lost Loveys

The journey of a thousand miles begins at 10 p.m. with, “Mommy, where’s Bunny?”

15. Folding Clothes

Also known as “picking up clothes my children casually tossed into the air.” It’s like trying to pick up papers in a hurricane.

16. Taking Objects From a Child

Removing unwanted objects from a toddler’s claw-grip of death requires a pretty fair amount of strength and endurance. You get bonus points for agility if you have to fish something out of their mouth and don’t get bitten.

17. Redirecting Children

Also, an exercise I don’t recall seeing in any Jillian Michaels DVD. This is a total body activity that sometimes has to be done about 57 times in 12 seconds. You will repeat these movements several times a day—starting with the second a butt cheek grazes a couch cushion fiber.

18. Playing Tickle Monster

This is running, crawling quickly, and being fast—fast enough to tickle and catch your kid before he plows his face into the floor.

19. Scrubbing Unidentified Food Objects Off the Floor and Walls

This is a lot of work. At the very least, it has to burn the same amount of calories as putting on a pair of Spanx—which is a few thousand. If you did this while wearing Spanx, you should just reward yourself with a week off.

20. Breaking Up Fights

Mostly, this is lifting a small person off of another one. Occasionally, you might have to lift both and pull them apart like wiggly pieces of Velcro.

So, grab a basket of laundry and a toddler, or two, and throw some half-eaten quesadillas around the house. You can create an entire obstacle course out of your own home and get housework done while working toward being swimsuit ready by summer. It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3, or cleaning up pee. Now, why didn’t Jillian Michaels think of that?

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