Exercising and Single Parenting

For me, exercise is essential. I can blow off steam, work out anxiety, or calm myself down with a 45 minute run. It relieves stress and keeps me active and fit. I’ve been a runner for seven years. Prior to that I hated running and said I’d never do it. I only walked. But then I had my second child and I couldn’t lose the weight fast enough. So, I decided to start running I ran two miles almost every day for 2 years. I’d run a 5K on the weekends. Then I started running four miles three times a week. I wanted to keep up with my sister so I could run with her. Now I run twice a week, attend a zumba class once a week, and do weight lifting twice a week. Even though I’m a single parent and don’t have much time, I manage to squeeze these sessions in anyway. Here’s how I do it.

When your kids are Young

When your kids are young, they can’t stay home by themselves. So, I’d have to either run on the days my ex had the boys or work out at home. You can find a ton of workouts on Youtube. These are mostly 30 minutes long, so I’d recommend doing them more like five times a week if you have to go that route. You can also buy exercise videos, subscribe to a fitness app, or find on demand fitness channels like Beachbody and do your workouts from home. Investing in some exercise equipment like weights, resistance bands and a mat is necessary if you work out at home. You may have to move the coffee table and contend with your pets in the space, but you can make it work. If you prefer social interaction, you might need to hire a babysitter. Our local YMCA has babysitting available in house. I often dropped my child off in the daycare room and worked out when my kids were little.

When Your Kids are Older

Now my kids are older and can stay home during the day for short periods of time. So, when I run, and the weather is nice, I strap on my shoes and run four miles from my home. Sometimes I call the boys halfway through to make sure they’re safe. When the weather isn’t good, I run the indoor track at the Y. It’s a seven minute drive from my house, so leaving the kids for an hour is okay. I still do my weight lifting at home using Youtube videos. I just searched for “ten minute ab workout” or “ten minute upper body workout” to target those specific areas. I also walk on the days I don’t run. I try to walk 3 miles on those days. I’m currently trying to lose weight, so I try to burn calories whenever I can. All my walks and runs are in my neighborhood, so I can be home quickly in case of an emergency. Of course, I do try to capitalize on the time the kids are with their dad. I run and do my weights on those days so that I have more time when I’m with the boys to just spend time with them. 

Motivating Yourself

It’s hard to start exercising if you haven’t made it a habit yet. I think the best motivator for me is to check my weight on a scale every morning. If I’m a bit high, I’m motivated to work out more. I also count my calories on MyFitnessPal, so working out gives me extra calories, which is great because I love to eat a little too much. The other motivator for me is other people. I see the same group of people at the Y every week for my weekly Zumba class. It’s motivating to know they will be there. I tend to not want to miss a class if I know everyone will be there without me. My sister and I run, walk and do weights together when I’m visiting her. It’s fun to workout with other people if you can. It’s definitely motivating because it will keep you accountable. Good weather is motivating to me. I try to get my workouts in rain or shine, but when it’s sunny and warm, I want to be outside. I do suggest investing in some cold weather gear so you can still work out outside if it’s cold or a little rainy. I’d rather run in the rain than in the wind. If it’s windy and rainy, I’ll do an at home workout or head to the Y to use the indoor track. Getting fresh air even in the winter is good for my soul, though. The other motivator I found is to find something you enjoy doing and do that. If you hate running, don’t run. If you like to dance, Zumba is great. If you’d rather play a sport, do that. You could rollerblade, mountain bike, rock climb, cross country ski, or hike. Find something you enjoy doing and get out there and do it!

How Much

How much you exercise depends on your goal. Mayo Clinic suggests 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week. My runs are definitely vigorous, so I do 135 minutes of vigorous exercise, 240 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise, and 40 minutes of strength training each week. If you don’t have a habit yet, I’d try five 30-minute sessions a week of something. Even if it’s just brisk walking. Of course, if you’re trying to lose weight like I am, you’ll want to exercise more and eat less. If I weren’t trying to lose weight, I’d probably only exercise 135 minutes of vigorous and 90 minutes of moderate each week. Don’t forget cleaning the house counts as exercise! You’d be surprised how many calories you burn doing that!

Like I said, exercise helps me maintain a calm, balanced state. It relieves stress and anxiety. It keeps me fit and active. And there are ways you can exercise at home with the kids. Do everything you can to make it a habit. When you’re 65, you’ll thank me.


  1. Ron Kesterke June 18, 2020 at 11:34 pm

    All exercise is good but some are harder on your body than others, i.e. high impact exercise can wear out things like your knees and back. Check out low impact options. When my back went out, I found the elliptical machine a great replacement for running. After decades of habitual exercising, you will see major benefits in your health as you age.

    • Kara June 19, 2020 at 2:11 am

      You would know. Because, you know, you’re an old guy.