When people find out that my husband Jim and I have ten children, ages 8 months to 18 years old, the range of reactions runs from shock to simple disbelief to happiness and sometimes— believe it or not— even envy. Some people offer blessings, some people are in awe and some people can become quite emotional as they begin to reflect back on their childhoods, whether or not they came from a large family.

One of my favorite stories is the time I walked into a restaurant with the kids after school and the hostess said to me “Ma’am, when you come in with a birthday party, please call ahead to give us time to set-up.”

Depending on the number of kids that Jim and I have had at any given time, we’ve been told we have enough for a basketball team (five), a hockey team (six) or a baseball team (nine). Since our tenth child was born last June, we’ve been told we can hold our own five-on-five basketball game— or, “one more and you’ll have a soccer team!”

Older folks tell us, “We love watching you with your beautiful family. We have seven kids of our own and now 22 grandchildren.” God bless them.

Sometimes when we’re asked why we have so many kids, Jim simply says, “My wife is crazy about my cologne!”

Over the years, I’ve grown accustomed to being approached for advice wherever I go: “I can’t handle two kids, how in the world can you handle ten?” “Why are you so calm?” “How can you have so many kids and still keep in shape? What is your secret?”

I’d have to say that the most common question I’m asked, especially by other busy mothers, is how I manage to stay committed to an exercise routine while looking after ten children.

In fact, one of the reasons I am able take care of myself and my large family is because I stay physically fit. Working out is my solace, my health insurance and my special time each day. In short, you could say that exercise is the method to my madness. And although I have always been athletic and have enjoyed sports, I know that not all women are like me. But I do know that all women— regardless of their body type, weight or athletic inclination— feel better about themselves when they exercise regularly. The challenge is finding the time, deciding what’s right for you, doing it and sticking to it.

The key is to make exercise part of your weekly routine. At the beginning of each week, look ahead to what you have going on. Which days are most likely to be workout days? Tuesday and Thursday? Be sure to mark that time in your calendar/agenda. By writing it down, you are more likely to consider exercise a “must do” item. If, on the other hand, you don’t take the mental step to actually fit exercise in to your schedule ahead of time, it’s unlikely that exercise will become a reality. Another tip is to put on your workout clothes when you get dressed in the morning to remind yourself to workout.

Say you begin walking two miles, two days a week— you will begin to feel better in two weeks. Guaranteed. And think of it this way: At the end of three months, you can say to yourself that you walked more than 50 miles. Imagine that!