The key is keeping it simple and low expectation (on your performance or endurance).
The truth is, you are already running a marathon since your first pregnancy, with no to very little rest, always on call, deprived of hundreds of hours of sleep, deprived of the sense of self as you knew it, and very likely with a messed up diet and nutritional deficiencies.
So if you can’t do much about the sleep and self-deprivation just yet (speaking babies and small children, longer with difficult smart children:), a bit of exercise can actually make you feel better, even energize you.
Think of doing very little (like 2 squats or 1 sun salutation). Then do some more (e.g. 4 squats or 2-3 sun salutations). Then be proud of doing more than expected. Do little, but aim at doing this little as often as possible. Pat yourself on the back at the end of the day, and each week you managed to fit in more than 1 day of exercise. You will likely end up doing a set of 12 squats soon, and 3 sets soon after. Or whatever it is you choose to do a little of.
- Bathroom squat (if you can’t do anything else, then squat here, don’t just sit; hold as long as you can).
- A couple of front lunges as you walk (with a stroller, more points for a baby carrier!, also possible at home, back and forth).
- Simple yoga stretch poses with children (yes they will climb on your back, expect it, aim low on your performance, high on their fun).
- Start some HIIT video or similar, do whatever part you can.
- Throw a dance party with your children or while cooking.
- If you can, get out for a walk, however short (5 mins for a start?)
- Assign 1 simple exercise to one day, e.g day 1: squats, day 2: sun salutations/some stand-up positions, day 3: lunges, day 4: push ups/weights for upper body or yoga on the ground, day 5: kitchen dance, day 6: 2 minutes of a 20’ HIIT video, day 7: rest. If you enjoy something more than the other, do that. This is just an example (some things I do), make up your own list.
- Share this article with a friend in a similar situation and challenge each other. Share you favorite types of movement with her, or share it here in the comments.
- Remember 1 squat a day means 365 squats a year. Definitely better than 0 and likely will be visible (on your body and mood).
Of course, addressing your diet, and any physical or mental issues, is another thing you can do right now (while at the kids-upbringing marathon). The right dietary interventions can definitely give you more energy, better mood and better body. Many women will do well with limiting the main dietary triggers such as sugar, gluten or casein. For some it may mean postpartum depression or not. There is lot's in play.
I will be happy to help you with this in an individual consultation custom-fitted for you unique body and situation. I can help you better after knowing more about you and your unique challenges.