As a full time single mum for over 17yrs one of the hardest things for me was finding time to exercise. With working, studying, cooking, cleaning, gardening, managing kids and the multitude of other chores required just to function in life as a single parent it often means our own health is not a priority. And its not always because we have low self esteem or we don’t see ourselves as important sometimes is just because we are absolutely exhausted after getting everything else done so we can survive.
The fact I used alcohol as a way to cope didn’t lend to leading a very active healthy lifestyle either. Because lets face it, pouring a relaxing glass of wine at the end of the day is way easier than finding an hour to go for a run or get to a fitness class. Plus you can still look after the kids while consuming your glass of relaxation, right ?
Exercise has always played a part in my life including netball, basketball, hockey and working out at the gym. But once I had a baby the most I ever did was push the pram around the block and even that stopped when my son no longer wanted to be in a pram. Walking a couple of hundred metres with a 2 yrs old no longer provided adequate exercise. For me I didn’t really get back into regular exercise until my son was about 7 and I also got sober. But even then the same problems of time and opportunity to exercise were still there.
But over time I found ways to incorporate more regular exercise into my life. I started to prioritise going for a walk or run between dropping my son at school and getting to work. As soon as he was old enough we both signed up for the local parkrun and we have been doing that together for over 7 years now. When my son had swimming lessons I would jump in the lane nearby and slowly swim some laps ( I still swim slowly !!) We joined Surf Life Saving and with a community of people around me there was always someone who could look after him while I competed in events. And finally when he started doing senior triathlons at 14 I figured I wasn’t going to sit on the sidelines for up to 4 hrs so I trained competed along side him. What I found was that there were definitely ways to keep fit and incorporate exercise into my life when I thought outside the box and utilised my time when he was also exercising or those small windows of opportunity when he was at school. In addition to my health one of the greatest benefits to this was the close bond we have formed doing sport together and the fact that I have been able to role model to him a healthy and balance lifestyle.
And granted this isn’t a problem that is exclusive to single parents. It is something faced by many parents regardless of their relationship status. What I would definitely recommend is changing your mindset and understanding how important your exercise is to you on a physical and mental level. The proven benefits toward mental health, anxiety and depression are well documented. The benefits to your physical health are of course completely evident. But often doing something because it is good for us is not enough reason to start, so perhaps look at your children and see that your actions are going to impact them greatly as a role model.
So ask yourself what type of role model do you want them to see ?
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