Having kids takes a significant toll on your body. In the beginning it is important to develop a plan that helps you ease back into fitness without slowing your recovery. Later, as kids grow finding the time to exercise becomes the new challenge. Whether you are a new mom or a bit more seasoned these tips will help you stay in top shape after having kids.

Nursing burns mega calories – if breast feeding is possible and makes sense for your lifestyle, give it a try. In addition to benefits for baby you can expect to burn between 300 and 500 calories per day. Since you need to expend about 3,500 calories to lose one pound you can expect to lose around a pound each week.

You’re on a roll – get out the stroller and get moving. Walking is an easy way to get back in shape. As a bonus you’ll benefit from the extra effort of pushing baby.

Multi-task – have a child doing baseball or gymnastics? Don’t just drop her off and sit in the car! Head for the track and get a few laps in to make the most of your time. If practice is at a fitness center, why not sign up for your own class?

Don’t take a vacation from fitness – make fitness a family value. On vacation, choose fun activities that keep you on your feet. Think hiking, skiing, biking or even rock climbing. At home, ditch the couch and toss a ball in the backyard or sign up for a family friendly 5-k.

Family of three playing baseball in the park

One step at a time – when you’re a parent it seems there is never enough time. Even though it is necessary for better overall physical and emotional health exercise can feel like a luxury when time is tight. You do have time, just rethink your plan. Instead of blocking out 30 minutes to an hour, exercise in small bursts throughout the day. Just 5 minutes in the morning, 15 in the afternoon and 10 in the evening can help you stay in shape. Use HIIT to make the most of your time. High intensity interval training burns more calories and fat in less time with intervals of high intensity exertion. Try it – jog or walk for 60 seconds and run as fast as you can for 15 seconds. Jump rope as fast as you can for 15 seconds and then slow your pace for the next 40 seconds.

Finally, be patient with yourself. It is not realistic to expect celebrity post-baby results at home. Measure your success by the things that matter to you. Maybe you have more energy or you finally feel a little less self-conscious about your stomach. Pay attention to what is working and where you are making progress. Use that information to stay encouraged about reaching your fitness goals.