Fitness/ Healthy Kids

6 Tips for Staying Fit While Solo Parenting

This week my hubby is away on a business trip… again.  You see, he travels rather frequently for 2-3 weeks at a time, leaving me to parent our 3 wonderful daughters on my own.  His first business trip was when our youngest daughter was 14 mos old (she’s now 6).  I remember that trip clearly – I was exhausted, short on patience and felt trapped – unable to do my workout.  I was CRANKY!!! I just couldn’t figure out how to fit it in, and it made me completely miserable.  Since then, I’ve had quite a few of his trips away (including 18 mos in which he alternated 2 weeks in Ireland, then 2 weeks home) to “figure things out”.


From my experience, here are some tips for staying fit and active while solo parenting:

  • PLAN your workouts. This really goes for everyone, not just those who are solo parenting.  I found that I am much more likely to work out if I have planned a workout.  I typically use my MotivateMe Monday posts to plan out the week.
  • Workout EARLY. I’ve found that the earlier in the day I workout, the more likely it happens.  Life doesn’t get in the way as much early in the morning.  I also like that I don’t spend the rest of the day trying to beat the “I don’t wannas”. If I do it as soon as I can, then I can “rest” and enjoy the rest of the day.
  • Workout WITH the kids. Kids LOVE to move and they LOVE the attention from mom or dad.  I like to play “Fitness Class” with the kids. Some other ideas are to run and push them in a jogging stroller, or have them bike alongside you if they’re old enough, play soccer, tag, hide and go seek, etc.  Babies LOVE working out with mom or dad too – they love to lie under you while you do planks, or sit on top of you while you do crunches.
  • BRIBE the kids. I got this one from Running Rachel, who has openly admitted to bribing her 3 adorable sons so she can fit a workout in.  Like Rachel, I’ve been known to utter the words “if you let mommy workout I’ll take you to the park”… It works, trust me.
  • Enlist HELP. Hire a teen-aged sitter to watch the kids for an hour after school so you can visit the gym or exchange child care with another like-minded mommy.  I use the child care at the gym every Tuesday and Thursday so I can go to my BodyPump class – it’s been a HUGE help in my overall mental health, and baby Amber has learned to accept care from other people.
  • Go to BED when the kids do. I skip the chores and go to bed when the kids do so that I’ll have more energy in the morning to fit in that EARLY morning workout I PLANNED to do WITH the kids.

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Do you have any tips to add?
What activities/games do you like to do with your kids?

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  • RebeccaG
    June 8, 2011 at 9:10 am

    Thanks for the common sense. I go to work at 5am, but I think the only way I’m going to get the workouts in is before I come in because I get off when I pick a child from school, and my husband works nights. My kids are 4 and 2 and my 4y/o has autism so we have therapy all afternoon.

    I appreciate the words of wisdom and am going to put the workouts on the calendar.

  • Wifey
    June 8, 2011 at 9:13 am

    Awesome tips! Especially bribing.

    Winks & Smiles,

  • Rachel @RunningRachel
    June 8, 2011 at 9:54 am

    Great tips, Janice! Another tip is to remind the kids WHY you are working out – healthy, makes Mommy happy etc. Showing them that it is FUN and they can have FUN TOO also helps them be more motivated to help make it happen too.

    Alright… off to juggle my three monkeys and get a workout in today! Have a fantastic day! (Happy birthday S!)

  • Cindy W
    June 8, 2011 at 11:05 am

    Love your ideas. I usually get my runs in the am, before DH heads to work or we go with a neighborhood strollercise group Tues/Thurs. I’m looking forward to when DS is a bit older and bribery works 😉

  • Jenn of
    June 8, 2011 at 11:48 am

    This is a great post. I was recently interviewed, and this was one of the topics. Wish I had already read your post. LOL! It is so important for single parents to know that they can still fit in exercise. I’m going to Tweet and Stumble too.

  • Laila @OnlyLaila
    June 8, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Thanks so much for this article. I’ve been a single parent all of my son’s life so I’ve always had the mindset of including him in everything I do. It’s another way of spending time together and having fun. At four he doesn’t know that we are exercising, he just knows we are going for a walk or playing the Wii. One thing I have to keep reminding myself is that I have to go to sleep when he does vs. trying to stay up and do more things. Rest is so important.

  • Wendy
    June 8, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    Great article! both of my kids are at school during the day, so you’d think I’d be working out a lot, but there are so many other things to do…. I have started making a plan to work out as soon as the school bus (of my coffee clatch) leaves so I DO IT and get it done.

    I am going to try and go to bed earlier and see if that works for me.

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  • Carol Dunlop
    June 28, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    These tips or rather great bits of info are invaluable to both solo parents and just plain people in general. Especially the one about planning your workout and doing it early. If you “fail to plan, you plan to fail,” as the saying goes.


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