Here are my top tips for mums on a budget to get fit ….and have some fun while you’re at it!

Like many mums out there, I am a stay at home mum. We live on a single income so our family budget is tight and it doesn’t really leave room for gym membership or expensive classes. But I have come to realise exercise is important to make time for so I have had to get creative. I like variety and I have been motivated in the last year to find kid friendly and budget friendly options that are fun and motivating for both me AND my children.


Today I have put together some practical steps of what has worked for me to get active with small children in tow (a one year old and a four year old to be exact). These are my top tips for other mums wanting to do the same….



1 make a list


Start off by looking on google maps for some parks near by with a nice walking track and search online for any free exercise opportunities in your local community eg. Exercise parks, or government funded events like the Brisbane city council active parks program (I am a HUGE fan of their mums and bubs fitness classes). In Brisbane, there are sometimes free events at southbank parklands too depending on the time of year.


Swimming is not free but can be cheap, my local pool provides child minding too that is pretty cheap, no bookings required. I gave swimming a go with my sister and loved it! (even though I did almost drown!)



2 allocate time


By aiming is to do something fitness-related each day, I am at least succeeding most of the time. It means that if life gets in the way some days because I feel unwell or a crisis situation arises (or it’s my birthday), I don’t need to feel guilty. As long as I have at least 3 days where my plan actually works out then that is still a great achievement in my books. Even if I have a super busy day I make a plan to fit in even just 15minutes or half an hour ‘sweating it out’ in some way or another. There is also always the weekend if I need to make up a few days, but for me, I generally try and relax and hang out with my family more on the weekends as Tech man isn’t really into exercising much….. hopefully this will change one day though. 🙂


My plan is very flexible and I base it around appointments and commitments I already have. Here are a couple of examples


  • I use the spare time between after school pickup and before soccer practice because there is an exercise park near by. The kids can have afternoon tea while I run a few laps and do sit ups etc.
  • Go for a walk or jog after meeting up with a friend at a park or straight after school drop off while you are already out and about.
  • plan your week to try and attend any free fitness classes in your local area.


3 home ideas


Kids (or the weather for that matter) don’t always cooperate with our well-meaning plans. Sometimes they are just too tired and cranky after a big day at kindy for another outing. So having an exercise option or two that you can do at home will increase dramatically your chance for success. Whether it is while the children are sleeping, watching TV or playing around in the back yard. Here are a few ideas that I have tried.


  • exercise DVD’s eg. Zumba
  • XBox kinect fitness games eg. Your Shape Fitness Evolved
  • Make up your own fitness circuit. Eg. some star jumps in the kitchen then sit ups in the playroom, reverse dips using the coffee table in the lounge and then squats down the hall. Set the timer and do one minute of each….. and don’t forget to crank up some motivating music!
  • Gardening
  • Treadmill


4 invest


Initially I recommend just getting some exercise clothes (including a good sports bra) and shoes that you feel good in and are both practical and comfortable. I have found on days I am planning to do exercise but don’t quite get there, even the simple act of being in my exercise clothes seems to help me feel good! (Tech Man says there is apparently even a study out there that proves this ??)


For birthdays and Christmas gifts over the last few years I have requested items I would really like to help me have fun while I attempt to get fit. There are heaps of useful items that don’t cost much but help expand your exercise options.


  • Weights
  • Pilates mat
  • Headphones and iPhone armband holder
  • Zumba DVD,
  • XBox kinect game,
  • 10 day gym pass,
  • swimming pool membership
  • itunes card to buy some upbeat music to listen to.

You can read about my latest purchase here.


Don’t forget the kids either, they might like a new skipping rope or ball, scooter or bike. Each of which are also very handy for your fitness journey too.


Take time to start writing your wish list now. These items will help make the time you spend doing exercise to be fun and effective.



5 make a playlist


Get on itunes and find some songs that will make you happy and get you moving to the beat. Have your playlist ready to access on your phone whenever you need it. I am a Christian so I decided to find some great music that reminds me of God’s faithfulness and promises too. Mandisa “overcomer” is one of my personal favourites at the moment.



6 play with kids


Why not have fun with your kids while getting fit at the same time!!?? Quality time, laughter and exercise, I have found, can be a really great mix for breaking a crabby mood.


  • play chasey
  • jump on the trampoline together
  • pump up the music and have a dance party
  • use skipping ropes and hoola hoops
  • kick a ball around
  • play tennis
  • run up and down while they ride a flying fox at the park


7 kids as coach


I remember My Little Scientist in the pram when he was younger yelling “go faster!”. We would make a game out of it and he directed me to run or walk as we went around the lake. He loved the power (he thought) he had over me I think.


These days he enjoys standing on my feet so I can do sit ups easier, it is fun because I try and tickle him when I get up. He also likes counting to 30 for me while I try and hold a plank. It is good for his maths I guess. “Your almost there mummy, you can do it!” he’d say.


He enjoys helping me and it is good for him to see me struggling and persevering through something hard and that I need his help sometimes. We celebrate together when I beat my record and sometimes he wants to have a turn doing some of the exercises too!



8 be flexible


Life has its unexpected twists and turns. Be prepared for your plans to change at the last minute. This might mean keeping a gym bag in the car and your child’s bike ready “just in case” so you can grab your opportunities when they come.

Remember, even if you have to ‘abort mission’ after only 30 minutes, at least you managed to do something. When your little ones get really sick or tired or cranky, a walk in the pram can be a good rest for them and time-out for you.



9 celebrate success


I’m a huge believer in the importance of celebrating small successes and achievements. Set a goal to work towards and reward yourself when you meet that goal. Perhaps this could be a special dinner out, a nice massage, shopping for a new dress to fit into, or getting a new item to help you to enjoy the exercise journey even more!



10 be brave


I think this one is really important. Us mums need to get brave and stop being so self-conscious. Sometimes I feel embarrassed when I am at the park doing squats with my kids and someone walks past. I feel ridiculous doing reverse dips using my coffee table at home. I am also pretty sure I look silly running up and down the stairs next to the slide at the park.


I don’t have much money,
I have two wonderful kids
I want to get fit and healthy so….
I am doing what works for me!  😛



11 try new things


For me, variety is really important. It keeps the days fun and interesting trying out new things. You can read about my latest fitness adventure here.


Also, by attending a few classes such as Fit for Mums or Pilates classes I can learn some extra things to do when I am on my own and most importantly I can learn the correct way to do them.


Trying out new hobbies can be great for the kids too. Geocaching is a real life treasure hunt! It really is so much fun and a great way to explore your neighbourhood while getting fit too!



12 vary intensity


Some days I just feel pretty Blah (generally this happens once a month!) and I want to do something with low impact such as Pilates, but other days all is right with the world, the sun is shining and it feels good to be alive…. and then again some days I feel frustrated or grumpy and just need to hit something! Lol.


I have an exercise idea to do on each of these days depending on my mood.



13 invite friend


I think many women don’t exercise because they don’t have someone to do it with. Accountability really is a big key to success. Why not ask another friend with young kids to exercise with you once a week or fortnight? It is a great way to motivate each other to better health and the kids love it too because they get a friend to play with.



14 make it count


There is no point making all this effort and then not bothering to push yourself. For the time you do manage to spend exercising, push yourself. Treat it as though is may be the only chance you are going to get all week so GO HARD.


top tips


What fun ideas do you have to keep fit?
Have you thought of some other thrifty ways to exercise on a budget?



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