Juggling the responsibilities of family, work, and life can feel overwhelming for any parent, but that’s especially true for single parents. Getting the kids ready for school, enduring a day at work, running the kids to and from practice, cooking dinner, completing homework, and everything in between – it’s exhausting and time consuming when you’re doing it alone. So how are you supposed to find the motivation and time to exercise, much less find the money? Luckily, there are some great tips to help single parents manage their responsibilities and stay fit.
Timing is everything, so find a part of the day that works best for you. Some people like to work out before their kids are awake, others like to exercise after their kids are in bed, and some like to include their kids in their workouts. Whatever time you choose, block out the time on your calendar just as you would for an appointment. Schedule it and make it non-negotiable. Also, have a game plan in your head for your workout to help you stay focused and get it done more quickly.
While you certainly can join a gym, you can also work out at the park for free. Play with your kids as they run around, complete pull-ups on the monkey bars, and do triceps dips, incline push-ups, and step ups off a bench. You can also work out at home. Sneak in small workouts whenever you can. If your children are taking their 15-minute snack break, do strength training. Use what time you have at your disposal. There are even exercises you can complete using only a chair. If possible, walk your kids to school or bike to work. If your kids are in ballet or at basketball practice, use that time to work out.
When life happens and you miss a workout, don’t beat yourself up. Accept the time you have available and make the most of it. Don’t compare yourself to other parents. But having a workout buddy can help hold you accountable and motivate you, especially if the individual is another parent (bonus points if he or she is a single parent!). Asking for help doesn’t make you weak, so hire a babysitter here and there if you need to.
Many people in addiction recovery find that alternative recovery methods – like yoga, swimming, and meditation – help aid in their recovery process. These activities allow the individual to focus his or her mind and can relieve stress and anxiety, both of which are triggers for relapse in many individuals in recovery. As a single parent, you may also be feeling anxious and/or stressed, so finding an exercise that keeps you fit and helps you relax may help you stay motivated to complete your workout. Also, exercises that are quick, easy, rewarding, and have low-cost options are ideal for single parents. While meditation isn’t a physical exercise, its mental benefits can do wonders.
Swimming is one of the most relaxing and fun exercises, and it’s great for people who don’t like the idea of working out in a gym. You can join a local indoor pool, or you can swim outside in a lake or river. Also, because swimming allows you a fuller range of motion than if you were exercising on land, it’s great for individuals with aches, pains, or previous injuries. It’s great for your muscles, bones, lungs, heart, coordination and flexibility.
Yoga is one of the oldest forms of exercise, and for good reason – it works. It can be performed in the privacy of your own home or in a group at a gym or yoga studio. Yoga helps you focus on finding balance, both physically and psychologically. If you’re feeling stressed or tempted by poor diet choices like soda or junk food, yoga may be the exercise you need to stay focused and in control. You’ll also improve your flexibility, strength, endurance, memory and sleep, while lowering stress, depression, chronic pain, risk of heart disease and asthma and arthritis symptoms.
Trying to find the time and motivation to develop and maintain a fitness regimen isn’t necessarily an easy task as a single parent. But with a little planning and thoughtfulness, it can be accomplished. The benefits of exercise are well worth the effort, so make your health and well-being a priority. After all, a happy and healthy parent usually leads to happy and healthy children.