7 Tips for Picking a Nanny: Advice from Expert Tammy Gold

Whether you are a new mom or a seasoned mom, searching for a nanny can be a challenge, to say the least! From where to find someone to what questions you should ask at that first meeting to when is the best time to start, the search can be overwhelming. Let’s face it: there is nothing or no one more important than your child. Finding the right person to help you care for your little one can seem nearly impossible.

To help soothe your nanny nerves, we sat down with Certified Parenting Coach, Licensed Therapist, and Founder of Gold Parent Coaching Tammy Gold (www.tammygold.com) to get the seven best tips on how to find a nanny. Here’s what she had to say….

Rule #1: Don’t rush the process of looking for a nanny.

When you’re worried about childcare, it’s extremely hard not to rush, especially if you need coverage immediately. But you must force yourself to fight the initial panicked instinct to hire the first remotely qualified nanny and put her to work right away. To make a good decision, you need data. You want to allow yourself plenty of time and ideally be under as little pressure as possible so that you can go through the entire process carefully, complete the necessary due diligence, and feel great about the person you hire.

Rule #2: Do the work to figure out what you need.

Your nanny will be intimately involved in raising your child, so you want to really hone in on the quirks and nuances of your family, as well as the nanny personality and skill set that you need. You’re the employer, so you get to create the job, and it can be whatever you want it to be. But you need to be absolutely clear about the requirements and expectations from the get-go. Things get complicated when a nanny feels misled, you feel like you’re not getting what you pay for, or you try to change the job and modify the nanny’s responsibilities along the way.

Rule #3: Have realistic expectations.

There will be pros and cons to every candidate, and every nanny will occasionally make mistakes. But that doesn’t mean that she can’t be a wonderful caregiver or that she isn’t the right fit for your family.

Rule #4: Don’t project too far into the future.

When you sit down with a nanny, try not to think, “Is this the person who’s going to care for my child for the next ten years?” Don’t worry about whether this is a life-long match or whether you can see her being at your child’s wedding someday. Most nannies don’t stay forever; they typically stay for a few years and then move on as the family’s needs or their needs change. So, all you have to decide is whether this person is the right caregiver for your child right now and whether she will still be able to meet your needs one to two years down the line.

Rule #5: Remember that, during the nanny interview, your nanny is also interviewing YOU.

Yes, you are choosing to hire a nanny, and yes, as the employer, you are in the driver’s seat. But in the nanny’s mind, she is also deciding whether she should work for you, and any really good nanny will have her pick of jobs. Be aware that, at any given point in the process, she will be asking herself, “How do I feel about this family? Do I like how they handle things? Do they make me feel respected and understood?” You are two equal parties in every sense of the word, and you want to think about it as an equal relationship from the start.

Rule #6: If you like someone, keep the process moving.

Remember that, when nannies are interviewing with you, they are also interviewing with other families. If you like someone, make sure she knows that you’d like to move on to the next step, and give a specific timeframe so she knows what to expect. You want to keep the nanny in the loop so she knows you’re serious and hopefully will not jump to accept another offer.

Rule #7: Keep the faith!

Nanny searches require stamina, and just like job searches or dating, they can have ups and downs. There will be setbacks. A nanny may do everything right and then be terrible in the trial, or your frontrunner may get another offer that you can’t afford to match. You will sometimes feel like you are getting nowhere—and then suddenly, you’ll meet the right nanny and feel that “click.” The key is to be patient and continue with the process. If you stay the course, it does work!

Even Moms Need a Day Off!

As moms, we often think we can do things one-handed, backwards, and in the dark. You know how it is. You use any extremity (even teeth) to hold bags, babies, and BIG cups of coffee. Your day starts with the roosters and ends with the owls. The responsibilities are endless, the needs of others limitless, and the workload large. Motherhood is the most rewarding job—but it’s also the most exhausting. On a daily (more like hourly) basis, you want to quit. You wonder how can things get any harder or any more harried, and then your toddler empties your jewelry box into the toilet bowl—and you think, I guess it can get worse!

The only way to survive the disaster days is to allow yourself time to recharge. Even the fanciest cars need to refuel (nobody can run on empty forever). You are not a horrible person for thinking that time with your kids can be terrific and terrible all at the same time. They can push your buttons, make you want to pull all your hair out, and force you to ask yourself, Why did I ever do this? Let us remind you that you did this because even on the temper-tantrum, drama-filled, never-ending-tears days when they are finally sleeping and you stand at the door watching them breathe, you think, I never knew a love like this existed.

That’s why.

However, when you are worked to the bone, appreciating even the most precious moments of motherhood can be difficult. If you’re feeling like you can’t take another minute of the crying, you’re not alone. You are not a bad person or a bad mother. It is because of the enormity of it all, the all-consuming, all-in and all-on, that we beg you to take a break. We ask you to give yourself a rest—even if only for a few hours. Ask your partner, your parents, your friends, or a sitter to come over and relieve you for a few minutes, a few hours, or even a few days. It’s okay to need time off; we all do! You shouldn’t feel guilty because you want a day to sleep past 5 a.m., not change a dirty diaper, or not have an argument about why you can’t eat dessert before dinner.

We get that guilty feeling too when we clock out, but you gotta do it. Time away from any job is needed, especially one that’s all day and all night. Don’t beat yourself up because you can’t be on ALL the time. Nobody can (and anyone that says they can is lying to you). We moms can sort of do it all, carry a kid, a bag, a stroller, and pay for groceries all at one time. You do whatever you have to do to keep them safe, smiling, and healthy, in body and spirit.

Just because you can do it all doesn’t mean you don’t need some time to just do nothing. You’re not a machine; you’re just an awesome mom.

Making the Most Out of Your Minutes

We are certainly not all knowing. We aren’t even half-knowing. But what we do know from years of trying to do it all (which, p.s., is a total impossibility) is that you can’t do it all. Admitting it early in your career as a mother will make your evaluation of yourself a whole lot easier to take. Cutting yourself some slack before you start the day will soften the blow when you can’t work out, clean your house, do the laundry, go to work, take your kids to gym class, do some homework, make dinner, and oh yeah, get yourself dressed.

The list of never-ending responsibilities goes on and on. Being a mom is no joke. While the actual number of people who need you, want you, and can’t function without you can be small (for most of us, this is a low single-digit number), their demands are high. As a result, the days are long, and the nights are short, unless your little one is still not sleeping. Then the nights are even longer! We are here to offer a few pointers from a couple of girls in the know who are still trying to know how to make the most of our days and the most of our time.

First things first, plan. Plan, plan, and then plan again (preferably in pencil so you can erase). Make a road map of what you want and what you need your day to look like. If it seems unrealistic or nearly impossible, then move some of your stops to another day. With less on your plate, it will make you less anxious about satisfying a long list of activities.

Anticipate what you might need and whose help you may need. While a crystal ball showing you what may go wrong and what will go right does not exist (although if you find one, please share!), knowing what you can and cannot accomplish alone is helpful. Things like extra milk, extra diapers, and extra clothes don’t take up a whole lot of room, but they do make a whole lot of difference in your day. Think about everything that could go wrong, and plan for that. Taking a little extra may make your bag a touch heavier, but it will make the potential downsides much lighter.

Be Efficient. The best athletes, surgeons, and technicians are efficient. Whether they are efficient in their footwork out on the court or efficient in their hand movements in the operating room, their lack of wasted movements moves them to their destination faster. Now, while we don’t expect you to be Serena Williams, try and mirror this in your day-to-day routine. Doing a couple of things at once (although texting and driving is NOT on this list) will help you bang out more than one task at one time. That’s why they made hands-free breast pumps!

Shut off, and tune in (to your family). We as mothers have definitely learned this lesson the hard way. Hearing your child ask if your Apple product is more important than their newfound ability to ride a bike is pretty awful. They are the apples of your eye, and trying to make the most of your time together is key. When it comes to the end, you won’t ask yourself if you sent enough texts, but you will ask yourself if you spent enough time together. Staying present with your plus one and plus ones will alleviate a lot of the guilt you feel when you are gone and ensures that your time together is more meaningful. Remember, it’s about quality not quantity.

Don’t worry about how you look, how they look, and how it looks! Although your desire for things to look just right is right on in our appearance-obsessed culture, we are all filled with flaws. Real life is not as glossy as your Instagram feed would make it seem. Filters will filter out the bad days (who posts the bad hair days on Facebook?), but they don’t represent the truth. Be mindful of what you take away from images on social media; they aren’t always reality. Bottom line: if your 2-year-old wants to wear her PJs to the park, sometimes it’s better just to go  with it. While you will have to put your foot down on some things (she is not wearing Minnie Mouse PJs in your family pictures), you have to pick your battles. Feeling good is way better than looking good.

Take time for yourself. An exhausted, frustrated, and spent mother, like a muscle that has been utterly fatigued, is not going to function as well without a break. We all need a day, or at least a few minutes off. Don’t be ashamed to ask for a break, a mini time out, or a breather. It doesn’t make you a bad mother it makes you a smart woman. Knowing when you have hit your breaking point will help avoid a way bigger problem.

Let the little things go. For fear of sounding trite or clichéd, we can’t stress this one enough. As doctors, we have seen a lot of bad stuff, to say the least. The kind of stuff that takes your breath away, brings you to tears, and makes you thank your lucky stars that you are still alive. And while many things in medicine bring us sadness, they have also helped bring us a lot of perspective. Appreciate what you have and who you have. You never know what could happen tomorrow. The small stuff will work itself out, trust us…doctor’s orders.

The Waiting Game

As parents, we have all been there—the endless, time-stands-still, clock-barely-ticking waiting game. Whether you are waiting for the arrival of your baby or the arrival of your teenager (who is clearly late for curfew!), we have all stood by the door waiting for it to open. The anticipation and the anxiety can be debilitating. Not knowing what is happening and what could happen to your child can be incapacitating. And while we certainly don’t have any ways of making the clock move faster, we do have ways of dealing with the unknown. It’s called limits. We put limits on the situation, our surroundings, and ourselves to limit the negative emotions that can take over your mind and limit your ability to function.

  1. Limit the negative energy: The waiting game is not a solo sport. When you are waiting for news, be it good or bad, it’s nice not to be alone. It’s also nice not to be with people that drive you crazy. Find someone (or someones) who have good juju and can stay by your side as you are standing on the sidelines.
  1. Limit your idle time: When not occupied, your brain can go farther than a trans-Atlantic flight, especially when you are thinking about your children’s health. Your mind can concoct some pretty crazy stories. And while we are not recommending that you do algebra or geometry in your idle time, we are suggesting that you listen to music, read a book, consider meditation, and hop on the phone with one of your friends. Although these modalities won’t change the outcome, they can help speed up the clock and maybe even reset your psyche.
  1. Limit your Google search: On the heels of #2, be skeptical about what your searches reveal. While we too have many degrees from Dr. Google, the Internet can be a scary and sketchy place for advice (minus Truly, MD!). You can take any myriad of symptoms and make them into the Plague. Speak to a professional, and get their educated opinion before you make a diagnosis that is dubious, to say the least.
  1. Set limits for what you can and cannot do: So often, we try and do it all. It’s hard to find one woman who doesn’t want to be Cameron Diaz in There’s Something About Mary. But the reality is that there is no She-Woman (or He-Man, for that matter). We all need help. And we are all limited. Your limitations don’t make you less of a woman, a partner, or a mother. They make you real.
  1. Limit the what-ifs, the should-haves and the could-haves: Life is not lived in reverse. Unlike that car sitting in your driveway, it can only go forward. No matter how hard you want to turn back time, you can’t. At some point, you have to stop beating yourself up for what you “should have” recognized and what you “could have” done. It won’t change what happened; it will only change how you move forward.

Unfortunately, in this game there is no official time clock. There are no periods, no quarters, and no halves. To make it to the end takes fortitude and strength. Parenthood is a challenge. And while we may not be there on the field to cheer you on, we hope that just knowing how many other people have played the same game brings you comfort. You are not playing this game alone!

Goodbye, Diapers!

I think one of the greatest mom moments might be when you say goodbye to diapers: the moment when you realize you no longer need to carry a diaper bag, no longer need to search out bathrooms with changing tables, and no longer need to keep the Diapers.com app open at all times. For all of you moms of toddlers, both who are on the cusp or who have recently completed potty training, you get what we are talking about. It’s a goodbye moment that you never thought would come. And unlike the many places, events, and people you have waved goodbye to, this one evokes intensely polarized feelings: relief and reminiscing, escape and longing, and happiness and sadness (whoever thought they would miss a diaper!). But while most of us are not bummed about saying goodbye to cleaning someone’s bum, we feel a twinge of sadness for the mommying chapter that is closing.

In many ways, the early days of mommying are like running the hurdles. And even if you are not a track star, you get the reference. But it’s not only the ups and downs that those infant and toddler days bring, but also the major events that need to be tackled, one after another: feeding, sleeping, crawling, walking, talking, peeing, and pooping. You clear one, and it’s on to the next. And these hurdles, unlike that track and field event you watched on TV, are not all the same height. Some are super, super high.

Potty training is one of those skyscraper-like hurdles. And whether you decide to follow the “Child-Oriented/Brazelton Approach” or the “Toilet Training in Two Days or Less Approach,” it can be a bear or a major pain in the behind. And trust us, we are not here to tell you one approach is better than another or criticize what you have done. You do what works for you and your little one. But we are here to say that, whichever you chose, bear with your baby (and yourself) as you tackle this giant milestone. Don’t let the pressure of those around you, an impending trip, or a summer camp requirement stress you out. It will happen. As moms who have jumped this hurdle twice, we promise you it will.

We are pretty confident that you won’t find a mother who will miss those poop explosions or trying to wipe, change, and hold their little one down with one hand while searching for a clean place to change their diaper with the other. But you will find many moms (us included) who will mourn the passage of time. Saying goodbye to diapers symbolizes that next phase. It symbolizes their growth and ours, both as mothers and as individuals. In many ways, no matter how dirty it is, it is the end of an era.

While that era may have been soiled and smelly, there was also something special about it. So, while we eagerly wave goodbye to diapers, don’t rush what’s to come. As a wise mother once said, “No one ever goes to college in diapers, so don’t stress about potty training.”

The Ultimate Snow Day: What It Really Feels Like to Have a Newborn

A couple of weeks ago, we were chatting with a friend who recently had a baby. After the routine pleasantries—“He is so adorable,” “You look amazing,” and “How magical is motherhood?”—the conversation got real. We started to dish on the unbelievable fatigue, the shower drain-clogging hair loss, and the daily outfit dilemma (nothing fits my top or my bottom!).

Let’s face it: those first few weeks can be pretty blustery. To quote a fellow member of the new mom club: “That first month is like one long snow day. You hang out in your PJs, you eat lots of comfort food, and you lay around on the couch.” Your days snowball into nights and avalanche into the next day. It’s one big mental blizzard.

And although many of you will bring your little ones home during a heat wave in August, when snow days are far from your mind, you get the concept. It’s that never-ending feeling of being in a daze. Not only are you utterly exhausted, but you are also completely confused: nipple pads, Diaper Genies, and breast pumps. It’s like speaking a foreign language. It makes you want to bury your head in your pillow, pull up the covers, and take a long nap. But you can’t. Motherhood calls.

At some point, you will have to put on regular clothes, you will have to cook yourself a meal, and you will have to leave your apartment. You will have to go back to normal. And finding out how to adapt to that new normal can be tough—it’s hard for even the most seasoned mothers. It’s important to remember that things will be “chilly” when getting your cadence down, but with time, help, and patience, things will get easier.

Take it from us, former members of the new mom “snow day club.” Motherhood, particularly those first few months, will throw you lots of snowballs. Some will land softly, and some will hit you smack in the face. But wherever they hit, you can brush them off and get back up.
The sun is on its way out!

Bad Moms

The other night, amidst packing and paying bills, I stumbled upon the movie Bad Moms. And while I never had a strong desire to watch it, for a combination of comic relief and some much-needed mental respite, I decided to put it on. I was immediately hooked. As a mom who struggles with work and kids, family and career, there was something to this movie. And while I don’t think it will win an Oscar, the movie not only made me laugh, but I also came pretty darn close to crying (and not because I was laughing so hard).

My emotions went south because, from the title to the struggles that Mila K and her besties faced, I could relate. The being late to everything, the never having everything under control, and the constant feeling like you are doing a C job as a mom, a wife, and a professional resonated with me. Add to that the constant feeling that people are watching and judging you, and you really have yourself in a tailspin. It’s a wonder any of us can get out of bed in the morning! It seems that no matter how hard you try, crossing the threshold from “bad” to “good” feels impossible.

Unfortunately, this piece won’t offer you much in terms of advice. It doesn’t come with “10 Tips on How to Feel Better about Yourself as a Mom” or “5 Ways to Feel Good Rather Than Bad.” And that’s not because we wouldn’t share it if we knew (trust us, we give you all that we’ve got!), but because we also don’t really have the answers. We, too, just like many of you, struggle with the “bad mom” feelings on a daily basis. No matter how big our smiles are on Instagram or how color-coordinated our outfits are, we are far from perfect.

We are sharing these emotions, as well as our flaws, to bring unity amongst women. To help us all recognize our similarities rather than dissect our differences. At the end of the day, we pretty much all want the same things—health, happiness, and love. So, let’s promise each other that the next time you think about uttering the words “I am such a bad mom,” you stop yourself. Take a deep breath, and think about all that you have already accomplished today and all that you will do, both for yourself and for others.

Cut yourself some slack. Cut out the negative thoughts. And cut out the negative people who perpetuate those emotions. Although we didn’t learn it in medical school, we are pretty confident that a processed lunch with non-organic bread or an extra 30 minutes on the iPad is not the end of the world.

Give yourself a break: doctors’ orders!

Is Testosterone the End All-Be All for Sexual Dysfunction?

Whether it be for our skin, our hair, or our vaginas, we are always in search of the Fountain of Youth. You know, that product or device that will keep everything looking and feeling young. In the land of sexual dysfunction, testosterone was thought to be just that. The magic medication that would keep us like our 20-year-old self—need we say more? And while it certainly can do the trick for some women, it has probably gotten much more press than it deserved. Let us explain…

As women age, androgen levels decrease. As androgen levels decrease, so does sexual desire. This connection led scientists to study the impact of androgen replacement treatment on sexual dysfunction, specifically hypoactive sexual desire disorder (Sexual Dysfunction). And like all good competitions, the results were split. Some studies showed improvements in sexual functioning, and others showed no change. And because there was no good tiebreaker for the long-term use of testosterone to treat sexual dysfunction (a.k.a. a prospective randomized controlled study), doctors were hesitant to prescribe it.

Furthermore, due to the limited data, the FDA was not willing to put their stamp of approval on testosterone treatment. For this reason, transdermal testosterone is only used to treat hypoactive sexual disorder in the short term, that is, no greater than six months. Long-term use is not recommended, no matter how hypoactive your sexual desire is.

We tread lightly when using testosterone because it is teeming with negative side effects. Think acne, facial hair growth, deepening of your voice, and cardiovascular complications. Not fun. Additionally, some researchers have noted an association between testosterone use and breast cancer. While the link is loose, it is another reason to opt for the short-term rather than long-term use of testosterone.

When it comes to hormones, testosterone is not the only game in town. While testosterone has gotten a lot of attention, it seems to work best on hypoactive sexual disorder (a.k.a. I am just not that interested).

When the desire is there but vaginal dryness is holding you back, cue estrogen. Low estrogen (think menopause and breastfeeding) leads to a loss of vaginal lubrication. Vaginal dryness equals vaginal discomfort, and collectively, these symptoms are a common culprit in sexual dysfunction. Vaginal estrogen (tablets, gels, creams, and rings) can be particularly helpful in alleviating vaginal dryness (picture a hose in a desert).

Oral estrogen can also add some water to the well but is generally not as effective as vaginal estrogen for the treatment of vaginal dryness. Going straight to the source is way more effective! Last, adding vaginal lubricants or moisturizers (Astroglide, Replens, etc.) will help to turn up the power on that hose and further reduce the dryness.

Hormones are certainly helpful in hampering sexual dysfunction. However, they are only the half of it. Treatment will generally take on many other forms, such as the addition or subtraction of other medications, counseling, and physical therapy. So, while our Fountain of Youth remains dry (no pun intended), the combination of treatments may just do the trick. It may not fill up that well, but it’s worth a shot!

When Having Sex Is More of a Chore Than a Choice: Sexual Dysfunction

Talking about sex is not always easy. Although it is plastered on magazine covers and frequently a hot topic on “The View,” opening up to others about your sex life (or lack thereof) can be difficult. In fact, dishing about how much you are “doing it,” whether you’re talking with your friends, your sister, or even your GYN, can make even the most open amongst us close up. Bottom line, it’s not an easy conversation to have. And the topic can become particularly taboo when we aren’t having it or aren’t even wanting to have it. Your lack of desire and/or pleasure from what is supposed to be one of the most pleasurable acts can make you feel alone. But we are here to tell you that you are most certainly not alone. Millions of women, particularly during the post-partum period plus, shudder at the thought of sex. So, in the words of our favorite ‘90s hip-hop artists Salt-N-Pepa, “Let’s talk about sex…”

Starting with the basics: sexual dysfunction actually comes in a few different flavors. And while most suffer from a lack of sexual desire, there are actually three other types that may be forcing you to choose sleep, shopping, and even sorting laundry over sex: impaired arousal, inability to achieve an orgasm, and sexual pain.

We learned a lot about sex and sexual response from the Kinsey, Masters, and Johnson sex studies. In fact, the sexual response is pretty intense (no pun intended). There are four phases (excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution), and in sexual dysfunction, any or all can be off. It goes something like this:

  1. Sexual Desire Disorders
    Those who fall into this category are basically suffering from “hypoactive sexual desire disorder” or “sexual aversion disorder.” The former is the most common in women of all ages. And while it seems to get us all equally (no matter how old or young we are), it gets us in different age groups for different reasons. For our seasoned women, it usually has to do with things like atrophic vaginitis (a.k.a. dry vagina from hormonal shifts), chronic disease, medication use, and even mental health issues. In our mommying group, we are more commonly looking at situational circumstances. Think of things such as newborn babies, terrible twos, crazy fatigue, and even dysfunctional relationships. The treatment for sexual desire disorders usually consists of counseling plus or minus medications (including creams/lubricants/ moisturizers that can help with vaginal dryness).
  2. Sexual Arousal Disorder
    Women in this category are generally unable to go the distance (a.k.a. complete sexual activity) due to inadequate lubrication. It is usually linked to a chronic medical condition or medication use. It usually exits stage left once the condition is treated or the medication is stopped. Additionally, lubricants and/or moisturizers can also be particularly helpful.
  3. Orgasmic Disorder
    When all seems to be going just right (normal excitement phase) but you can’t get to that place (achieve an orgasm), you have female orgasmic disorder. In most cases, orgasmic disorder does not stand alone. It is generally linked to hypoactive sexual desire, and therefore, the treatment is fairly the same. The one exception are women who have never achieved an orgasm (medically termed, primary orgasmic disorder). We usually prescribe masturbation, education, communication exercises, and body awareness.
  4. Sexual Pain Disorders
    Dyspareunia and vaginismus are the two culprits when it comes to sexual pain. While dyspareunia is pain with sex not caused by a lack of lubrication and vaginismus is an involuntary spasm of the outer vaginal muscles that make sex and any vaginal penetration nearly impossible, they are both a pretty big pain (no pun intended). They are frequently linked to some of the above diagnoses. In most cases, CBT as well as physical therapy and some at- home dilator use are key to quelling this problem.

Finding a doctor who not only gets you but also gets the difference between the various types of sexual dysfunction is key. The only way to get to the bottom of what’s bothering you is to lay it all out there. If the person across the table doesn’t evoke that vibe, then you need to evict yourself from their office, ASAP. Everything you take (particularly medications like anti-depressants and anti-hypertensives), everything you feel, and everything you don’t feel should be shared. No judgment here.

If you feel more like lying on the couch than lying in bed with your partner, you are not weird, you are not atypical, and you are certainly not alone. Many of us have also gone through this (especially when you have little ones at home). Major life events can take a major toll on your body and your psyche. And while we certainly don’t expect you to post hypoactive sexual disorder on your Facebook page, we do suggest you share it with you GYN. They will have ways to help you work through this time and get you back to your home base. If we don’t know the answers, we have colleagues (a.k.a. sex therapists) who have seen it all, heard it all, and have all the tricks to treating this issue. So, as our girls Salt-N-Pepa liked to say… “Let’s talk about sex.”

Breaking a Sweat without Breaking the Bank

Let’s face it. Exercise and popular workout classes are not free. In fact, they are not even cheap! Clipping into the saddle or popping onto a Pilates machine can cost you a cool 40 bucks (depending on where you live and what studio you like to frequent). Times this by 5 or 7, and you are not talking chump change. Furthermore, if you have kids, breaking free to break a sweat requires a babysitter. Add an additional 30 to 40 dollars for that, and you have gotten yourself an expensive afternoon. All of this makes exercising not only unappealing but also nearly impossible. But despite these roadblocks, the benefits of exercise are big, so it’s important to find ways to bypass them, no matter how impassable they may seem.

Here’s some of our five favorite free ways to break a sweat:

  1. Use your feet. We use our feet to get us everywhere. Whether it be walking to and from work or running to and from errands, we try to get there on foot. We never leave home without a pair of sneakers! This practice not only saves money and time (best way to beat the traffic), but it also gives you some fresh air (Vitamin D) and some alone time. It’s a great way to let your head go and get recentered…all while burning some calories!
  2. Start climbing. No, we’re not referring to your nearest hike, although that would be a great form of free exercise! The climbing we are talking about is the one that gets you from the bottom floor of your office building to your desk (plus maybe a few extra levels to really drive your heart rate up). By ditching the elevator, you can get your blood moving, your heart pumping, and break a good sweat. And although we too will miss those good elevator tunes, a few hikes up and down will do a lot for your bottom line and your overall health.
  3. Do some research. It may surprise you to know how many low-cost exercise options are out there. While everything may seem pricey at first glance, with some research you might find some good choices that don’t cost too much. Don’t take what you see at face value. Ask about packages and deals. Often, fitness centers will sell packages if you buy in bulk. Last, consider taking your workout woes to your human resources department. Gyms and studios are often eager to make deals with companies (the more members, the better). This is a great way not only to save money but also to engage your colleagues.
  4. Make a date out of it. Couples who sweat together stay together! Going out for a run or taking a class not only allows you to break a sweat but also spend some quality time together. Think about substituting the movies or dinner for a sweat session. The costs will be fairly comparable, including the babysitting fees, and you will get some good cardio out of it. And honestly, what’s better than a date where you don’t have to wash your hair, worry about what you wear, or put make-up on?
  5. Do it as a family. There is nothing better for your kids than to learn healthy eating and exercise habits at a young age. Like mother, like daughter; like father, like son. Go outdoors and run around. Play tag. Take a hike. Go for a swim. Walk in the park. Whatever you can do to get moving, make it happen. Turn off the TV, the iPad, the iPhone, and anything else that needs to be charged. Family activities centered on fitness will recharge your family’s battery. Togetherness is way more powerful than any electrical device!