Parenting Vivian | 04 Mar 2011 02:26 am

Single Parents Find Time to Exercise

Raising kids is stressful, even in two parent families, but doing it on your own is harder still. How do we find the time to give ourselves and our bodies the much needed relief of regular exercise? How do we keep our bodies fit and healthy while overloaded with the many other responsibilities of parenthood?

Tip 1: Prioritize
It’s important to value your time and your fitness. Sometimes it can be easy to make yourself the least important responsibility you have. It’s vital to never forget that ‘you’ are priority one. Without you the family would fail to function. Time to exercise is a huge part of keeping you relaxed and happy. Without this vital element of your every day life you would become frazzled and lack the energy and enthusiasm for every other area, even your kids.

Tip 2: Include
Moments when the kids aren’t underfoot are so rare that it is almost impossible to set aside fifteen, thirty, or sixty minutes to work out. If you can spare this time away from the children it would be better spent in pursuits they must be excluded from, like enjoying a movie or reading a book. Kids need exercise too so don’t be afraid to include them. Children have ‘fun’ getting fit. There are all sorts of activities you can do that burn the calories but feel more like an energetic playtime than physical fitness.

Tip 3: Enthusiasm
Make sure you choose fitness activities you will enjoy. If you enjoy it, you’ll ‘want’ to do it. If you hate every moment then there isn’t much incentive to make the time and your kids won’t want to be involved either. Keep smiling, keep breathing, and remember why you do this, for yourself, and for everyone important to you.

The following activities are easy things you can fit into any schedule.

1: Dance Chores – From folding laundry, to vacuuming you can add movement to all the chores a single parent has to do each day. Dance! Groove! Put on some music and swing your hips or prance across the living room. You might feel silly but who cares? No one can see you, except maybe your kids, and if you get them involved they’ll be helping with the housework and having fun at the same time.

2: Walk, Run or Ride – The car has become an established member of the family. It’s time to give it a break. Choose to walk, run or ride to school. Most children go to a school within their district. If you have to go further, drive, but park a few blocks away and walk the remainder. These ten, fifteen or twenty minute walks accumulate; you’re doing each of them twice, two times a day at least. At even ten minutes that’s a total of forty minutes exercise every week day.

3: Kids TV – The kids are watching their favorite idols, the kids from Hi 5 or The Wiggles. They’re kicked back on the couch as bright shirts prance across the screen, voices raised in song. This just won’t do. Get the kids up and you too, dancing and singing along. It uses much more energy then you might think and the kids will love getting involved and feeling like they are interacting with the characters on the screen.

4: Sports – You’ve enrolled your daughter in the local under nines t-ball and your son is a quarterback champion but you’re braving the cold on the sidelines? Get up, get active, pacing back and forth long the pitch is a great way to stay warm and the kids will love your enthusiastic cheering. But if even this isn’t enough for you, consider coaching or being a parent helper.

5: Park and Play – Children need time in the sun. They love to spend thirty minutes or an hour at the Local Park or oval. Join the fun by kicking a ball around with them, pushing the swing or having a game of tag. The kids have more fun if their playing with you and you’re getting a workout while having a great time.

If you’d like to add some solo fitness activities to your week remember that you can multitask. If you have a favorite television program that you watch after the kids are in bed you can spend the hour on the treadmill at the same time or read a book or magazine while you pedal away on the exercise bike.

It’s really not difficult to find time to work out once you’ve decided to do so. Small moments of fitness culminate in general daily exercise but the most important thing is to add movement to the activities you already do, every day. I hope you’re looking forward to a happier, healthier you.

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