Being a mom makes it hard to do things for yourself. But being a single mom makes a lot of things even more challenging. Simple things like running out to the store, taking the dog for a walk, or grabbing takeout are not so simple when they involve getting three kids out the door to accompany you. You can’t just leave the kids in the house with another parent to grab some eggs at the store – it’s an event. But working out as a single mom? Now that’s challenging! A lot the challenges of a single mom are experienced by stay-at-home moms with kinds underfoot, or moms who have busy spouses in some fashion. You can’t just leave the house for a run, or go to a fitness class – it takes planning, determination, and creativity.
Throughout my time as a single mom, I have not only continued to work out, but I trained for a full Ironman, It was tough, but I learned to adapt and I fit in workouts to the best of my ability. So I thought I’d share a few single mom workout tips that I learned along the way!
1. Schedule it! When you’re a busy mom, it’s easy to let yourself slide down the priority food chain. There’s always something else that needs to be done besides taking care of yourself and your well being. But I find if I schedule my workouts like other commitments and must-dos, I’m less likely to skip them.
I live and die by my Google calendar schedule. It has multiple calendars layered in different colors. I created one for “Workouts/Training” and a it means I make it a priority and work other things around it.
So make a date with yourself and put your health and fitness a priority at that moment in time – you’ll feel great that you did!
2. Find what you love and do THAT. It’s hard to be motivated to do a workout when you are tired, busy, and stressed, and your kids aren’t cooperating. It feels like yet another chore. But if you can find that one exercise routine or fitness activity that you love, you’ll look forward to it and you will be more motivated to do it.
For example, I love biking in my house – whether it’s on my spin bike or my actual bike on a bike trainer, it’s my favorite way to get in a workout at home these days. I can watch a movie or TV show, I can still “parent” from the bike, and I get in a great workout! And because I love it, I am more likely to get the workout done, no matter how tired I am.
3. Be flexible. Fine, you’ve scheduled the workout but something came up. Whether related to a kid’s schedule or their unpredictable moods, it happens – been there! As moms, our lives are complicated and your kids need to come first. So be flexible!
Have a Plan B. Figure out another way to get in some activity during the day. If my scheduled workout is thwarted, I might have to get creative and include the kids (see #5!), readjust my schedule, or sacrifice my evening relaxing time for an evening workout.
4. Use what you’ve got. I have a secondhand treadmill that I bought, and it’s been a lifesaver for fitting in my running. But before that came into my life, I did a lot of home workouts with no cardio equipment at home. A yoga mat and a workout video is really all you need to get started! You can incorporate yoga, pilates, core workouts, bodyweight exercises, or intervals and circuit training in your own house.
5. Include them. I have a stroller running addiction – I love it, my kids love it, and we don’t ever want to stop. But I can only take one at a time, so I try to find a way we can all be active as a family. My kids love family walks in the evenings. One might be on a scooter, one on a bike, and one holding the dog leash – it’s all about being active together and enjoying the moment.
6. Share your outcomes with the kids. I train for running and triathlon races, but it’s not typical that my kids can come watch me do the actual race. The logistics of it just don’t work unless I have someone to watch them at the race site. So it’s important to either bring them or show them pictures – they see what mom’s been working for this whole time. If a goal race isn’t your end game, then find a way to show them how strong and healthy you are from all the workouts they have witnessed!
I’ve also found some great groups for moms – whether running, walking, or even online, finding a community and encouragement from others is a great way to stay motivated! It isn’t always easy to fit in workouts as a single mom, but I really enjoy the journey of fitness and family and my kids are inspired and motivated to be active and healthy.