Get in Shape for Free: A Fitness Guide for Single Parents

Engaging in regular exercise is one of the smartest investments anyone can make, especially if you’re a single parent who needs the energy to keep up with her kids. And when we say “investment” we’re talking about time and effort, not money. To show you what we mean, here are several free (or almost free) ways to get in shape. Use these tips to give you the guidance and motivation you need to achieve your fitness goals.

Stick With the Basics 

TV programs love to show images of people with big arms and sculpted abs. The purpose behind most of these promos is to sell you some kind of overpriced product, usually with the promise that it will turn you into a superhero. Sadly, the real world never works that way. Most home fitness machines end up as overpriced coat hangers or yard sale merchandise. So skip the gadgets and start with these four classic routines instead:

  1. Pushups. This one exercise can do you more good than all the fitness products on the market. It strengthens the arms, shoulders, chest, abs, and even the legs. Plus, it costs you nothing. You need only a small amount of space and the motivation to improve yourself. And don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do a standard push-up right away. There’s no shame in starting at the intermediate level by bending your knees. Soon you’ll be pumping them out with the best of ’em.
  2. Situps or leg raises. This exercise will bulk you up without draining your wallet. Some people have trouble doing sit-ups because of neck or back issues. If that sounds like you, then leg raises are a great alternative, according to the fitness experts at the New York Times.
  3. Squats/deep knee bends. Not only will this exercise give your legs a great workout, it’s a perfect way to get cardio benefits at the same time. The burpee is a more advanced variation of the squat, one that combines the benefits of squats and pushups while getting your heart going.
  4. Walking. Yep, you read that right. According to Mayo Clinic, you can enjoy fantastic health benefits simply by putting one foot in front of the other. Start by walking 30 minutes 3-4 times a week, then increase the intensity by picking up your pace or walking hills as time goes on. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes and dress with the weather in mind.

Staying Motivated 

We all know that lack of motivation is the reason why most people fail to exercise. So don’t feel bad if your biggest challenge is summoning the willpower to succeed. You’re far from alone. Here are some proven ways to turn your lethargy into a lust for fitness:

  • Have a workout partner. The two of you can keep each other pumped as you sweat the pounds away. Your children can also accompany you in a stroller, on foot, or even a scooter or bike.
  • Give yourself positive feedback each time you complete a routine. For example, you may allow yourself a new workout shirt in return for week of cardio workouts.
  • Visualize the results. Picturing yourself as the person you want to be can inspire you to get off the couch and get moving. Try it.

After a few months of commitment to the above, you may consider expanding the workouts you try. You can add simple (and relatively cheap) items to your home gym to start incorporating more advanced exercises into your routine. By doing so, you’ll continue to see results month after month.

Get on the road to a new and better you starting today – you’ll look back on the decision as one of the best things you’ve ever done for yourself.

Author is Paige Johnson      Paige is a self-described fitness “nerd.” She possesses a love for strength training. In addition to weight-lifting, she is a yoga enthusiast and avid cyclist.  website http://learnfit.org/

               

Dealing with Vindictive Co-Parent

Divorce brings a whole new set of complications to parenting. Having to deal with an unreasonable or vindictive former spouse adds additional stress to the situation. It may not be possible to parent as a team and that is okay. Having a detailed Parenting Plan lessens the need to keep going back and forth on the small stuff. If anticipating that splitting up holidays will be a battle down the road, get that addressed in the Parenting Plan. Ours was very detailed which included the percent each parent paid for various medical, dental and other charges for our sons. My attorney also wrote an incredibly precise divorce decree, which was quickly approved by the other collaborative attorney. These actions enabled post-divorce life to go smoother.

Be careful that the youngsters are not used as tools for revenge. One parent may try to limit or stop visitation from the other one. Having the shared time clearly spelled out in the Parenting Plan may prevent this behavior. If you are on the receiving end of calls stating that the kids are sick and cannot see you, react in a positive way in order to end this game playing. Reply “How kind of you to let me know, so I can be prepared. I’ll have some soup ready and pick them up with barf bags in the car.”

A way to minimize conflict is not to give the other parent any ammunition. Be reliable, on time and bite your tongue if necessary to avoid criticizing them in front of the kids. Be cognizant of Parental Alienation which is when one parent attempts to turn the children against the other one. If you are the target, consider getting legal advice on how to proceed. Go ahead and correct any misconceptions (lies), such as “Mommy says that you had a girlfriend.” Let your offspring know that there was never a girlfriend in the picture when you were married. You are standing up for yourself by correcting the fallacy. You are not putting down the source (your former spouse) but rather clarifying the accusation.

Whether or not to confront your ex if they are using your children to spread tales about you, depends upon your situation. Trying to have a dialogue with a toxic ex may be counterproductive. A third party, such as a mediator, can intervene    Please read more….  http://www.divorcemag.com/blog/co-parenting-with-a-vindictive-ex-spouse

Keep Your Kids Involved In Your Move: You’ll Be Happier and So Will They 

Everyone knows that moving is stressful, but did you know that it can be especially difficult for your children if you leave them out of the planning? Being involved in decision making, packing and unpacking can help them to feel more in control and ready for the change. Here’s how:   

  1. Pack their room last and unpack it first in the new home. 
  2. Stick to the old meal and bedtime routines throughout the move to give them a sense of familiarity. 
  3. Hire movers – you will thank yourself and you’ll have more time to help your children.  
  4. Include your kids in some decisions: decorations, new plates, which new park to visit first. 
  5. Find child and pet care for moving day to alleviate stress.  
  6. Involve the kids in unpacking so they feel more invested. Prepare them mentally but be prepared for anxiety – adjusting can take up to 6 months. 
  7. Get them pumped about their new school by taking a tour or even walking or driving by.  
  8. Help them create a memory book of the old house, school, neighborhood, friends, babysitter. 
  9. Remember to practice self-care so that you’re on top of your game for your children.   

Now that you have some ideas of how to involve your kids in the planning process, make it fun. If it’s a game instead of a chore, everyone will enjoy it more and feel ready for the move. 

You will still be stressed, but much less so when everyone is pitching in to help.   

Author  Alexis Hall is a single mom to three kids. She created SingleParent.info to provide support and advice for the many families out there with only one parent in the household. She works as an in-home health nurse. When she isn’t working or spending time with her kids, she enjoys running and hiking and is currently training for a triathlon.