There is no question that your life changes, and permanently, once you have children. What I was not exactly prepared for was that the same would happen to my body. Reluctant to lose all hope that I may never fit into my pre-baby clothing again, I still have some precious few outfits in the back of the closet. But regardless of our weight or shape, keeping active and healthy is essential for everyone, and especially for a mother who has to take care both of herself and her children.

How I am supposed to find the time to work out?

But then comes the very next question that I have been posing for years…I don't have time to breathe, how I am supposed to find the time to work out? And let me tell you, few can argue lack of time better than me. I have four kids (ages 7, 5, 4, and 2) and work more than full time.

And while a gym membership, exercise classes and the such prove impossible for my lifestyle, I have discovered some great ways of working out while doing what we are anyway doing! Nothing beats multi tasking for the busy mother, and when that multi tasking includes exercise, all the better.

Now I am the first to admit that I am no expert. I am not a professional fitness trainer, have no scientific proof to back up anything I am about to tell you, and might even contradict what those in the know would say. But I can tell you one thing. These things work. Not only did they help me lose weight, but even more importantly, they gave me more energy, and created fun things to do with my kids. So all in all, everyone wins!

Here are some of my favorites. Depending on the age of your kids you will need to adjust them:

1. Wake your kids up with a song:

It is hard enough to wake kids up in the morning, but the more energized you are, the better they will respond. I wake my kids up by singing them Modeh Ani, which is the prayer we say thanking our Creator for another new day. So rather than just singing it, I've started dancing to it. Jumping up and down, doing jumping jacks, pulling the kids out of bed to dance with me. Let me tell you, jump up and down for five minutes straight and that is already a good start to a cardiovascular workout! (Here is the song I sing with the little kids: "Oh every morning, when I'm still sleepy, I open up my eyes and say, thank you Hashem (G‑d) for my neshama (soul) and for giving me another day: Modeh Ani Lefanecha, Melech Chai, Ve'kayam, Shehechezarta bi nishmati, bechemla rabba emunatecha.)

2. Have races running up and down the stairs:

Who needs the stairmaster when you have a set in your very own home? I used to get winded running up the stairs, so instead of doing it, I would try to pass off anything that was needed from the second floor to my kids. Now, I try to make as many trips as possible, each time knowing that it is great exercise. But better yet, depending on the width of your staircase, you can race your kids. My kids love nothing better than either having timed races or trying to chase me up the stairs, then they slide down while I run down, and we keep doing this until my legs are about to give out!

3. Do kid lifts:

Maybe this isn't as great as weights, but depending on the age of your child, lift them up. My baby weighs about 20 lbs, so I actually do sets lifting her straight up in the air above my head. She absolutely loves it and begs for more, and I try to keep count to how many times I am doing it.

4. Work out your legs through making your child an airplane:

Depending on how much weight you can hold, lie on your back with your knees bent and put your child belly down on your legs like an airplane, then do lifts lifting the child while extending your legs.

5. Involve your kids in your workout:

For older children, have them hold your feet as you do crunches and help them count with you. Or have contests doing jumping jacks. I also will do calf raises while helping them with their homework. And another great exercise is sitting against the wall as if you are on a chair but obviously without one. (If you can last more than 1 minute I am extremely impressed!) My kids love counting how long I can stay in this position, and for fun, when I really want a challenge, I have them sit on my lap while I am doing it!

6. Play IS a workout:

Nothing beats a game of soccer for a good workout. Take your kids outside, run around with them, have races, chase them. Doesn't matter what you do. They will love it and you will most definitely break a sweat.

7. Make quality time exercise as well:

When the weather is nice, go on walks with your kids. Take turns taking a different child on the walk so that it can become special time with that child. This may not be the greatest workout, but put on wrist and ankle weights to add to the walk. Another possibility is having an older child ride a bike and then you run alongside it. Make sure to do some hills where you can walk slow and talk, but where mom has to push the bike up the hill. You may be surprised to find that you will be out of breath and your kids are ready for more!

These are just a few basic ideas to make our daily lives an opportunity for exercise. I am sure there are endless others, and the more conscious we are of infusing our daily routine with exercise, the more likely we are to do it. And again, if nothing else comes out of it, your kids will love the funky, energized mom who is jumping up and down with them, lifting them in the air and running around the park. How can you possibly beat that?