Single parents have an incredibly difficult job, but it’s amazing to see just how many of them do all they can to spend their time wisely and dedicate all of their life, love and passion toward the proper care of their child.
Yet it’s also true that this task can take up all of our time, no matter what. This is why relying on the help of your willing family or friends from time to time can be so important. Even then, caring for your personal needs, such as catching up on your sleep, eating well, trying to take a break when and where you can, and of course, keeping in shape can seem like a gargantuan task after you’ve taken care of everything else.
If given the choice between an hour of extra sleep and the chance to go for a run, you’ll most likely pick the former.
So – is it even possible to get in shape as a single parent? Well, while you might not have the time to compete in any Olympic events anytime soon; there’s a great deal you can do for your health in the meantime.
Just Keep As Hydrated As Possible
This is step one. If you can make sure to drink enough water throughout the day, your body and brain will thank you for it. It’s very easy to forget about our necessary upkeep when our child is crying or when we have one thousand things to do that day. A good hydro flask will be a good investment, and you can even use water tracking apps to remind you to drink throughout the day.
Men need around 3.7 litres a day, whereas women need roughly 2.7 litres. However, if you’re walking with your stroller all day, or have plenty to do, or even exercise that day, drinking a little more to replace lost fluids can help. We’d also recommend trying to avoid the usual crutches; like drinking too much caffeine even if it can perk you up, because this is a diuretic and can also lead to energy crashes. A great alternative can be a tasty beverage like matcha tea, which is packed with antioxidants. While this has a similar caffeine profile to coffee, these extra powerful agents help slow down the energy rush and limits the crash significantly, and is much healthier for your gut.
Keep as hydrated as is required. This may sound obvious, but you’ll notice the difference if you make certain to apply good habits here.
Go For Walks With Other Parents!
It’s good to go for walks with other parents if you have the time to do so. This can be a good way to socialize (which is harder for a single parent), and to get your morning exercise in. It also helps your child encounter more fresh air than they otherwise would, which is certainly a benefit.
Buying all-terrain stroller options can be a great investment because these can easily help your child feel comfortable and protected in their stroller while you do go for long-form walks, and if you need to go off-road a little (such as when having a picnic in a park with your friend), this is much more possible.
It can be nice to have a walking buddy you meet each day, or perhaps enjoy a nice cafe lunch with a friend after picking up your child from their pre-school environment. The hidden benefit here is that the more you walk, the more you exercise, and that means you can physically express the stress that comes with being a parent. This certainly helps mellow you out and also ensures you get better sleep in the long run.
Take Your Breaks When You Can
Single parenthood is hard. Looking after a brand new human being is hard. You’re probably not going to be perfect. That’s okay. Yet it’s also true that looking out for the most important person in our lives also means looking after ourselves.
As such, taking your breaks when you can is important. Rest when you have the opportunity to. For instance, when placing your infant or toddler down to sleep for their afternoon nap, you may be able to grab thirty minutes of shut-eye yourself.
It may also be that once every other week or every three weeks, you ask your parents or most trusted friend (who you know is capable of caring for them) to look after your child, just so you can go out to dinner, or to spend a few hours with a friend, or to attend a birthday party. This way, you can to have an evening of fun from time to time, without guilt.
Is this selfish? Not at all. To be frayed at the edges and to deny yourself, bottling up all of your emotion, will only lead to difficulty as a capable parent. Ironically enough, making sure you’re aware of your needs and planning in advance can help you return to being the great parent you already are.
But how does this serve your health? Well, blowing off steam can release stress like a pressure valve. This can prevent all of the physical and mental effects of stress, such as exhaustion, irritability, the tendency to make mistakes, and the willingness to socially isolate yourself.
Try Stretching & Relaxation Techniques
There are a few practices you can keep which help you feel better in your body and mind. A light stretching regimen each morning is a good way to start. A yoga mat to fit in your bedroom is often quite affordable and can give you the comfort you need. A few positions can be found here.
Alternatively, you may try vipassana meditation for ten minutes each morning after your shower, which has been described as akin to a ‘mental shower.’
This way, you deal with your stress from the previous day before you even get started. Alternatively, if you’re often woken up by your child who needs immediate attendance, you can do this just before you go to bed to shake off the cobwebs of that day.
This can help you grow in strength, focus, and relaxation. The more you practice these techniques, the better off you feel.
With this advice, we hope you can see how to work on your health as a busy single parent – in the best, most worthwhile long-term sense.