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5 Playground Exercises for Busy Parents

5 Playground Exercises for Busy Parents

As a busy parent, you may find it difficult to get to the gym. Actually, that previous statement isn’t entirely true. You do find it difficult to get to the gym – at least on a consistent basis. But does that mean your exercise has to be limited to chasing toddlers around the house? Not exactly. There’s one place your children can play and you can simultaneously get exercise: the playground.

Think about it. While the playground is designed for children to swing, slide, run, and jump, it has a number of elements that are actually pretty conducive to staying in shape.

Let’s take a closer look at some of these playground exercises so you can get fit while the kids have fun.

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1. Monkey Bar Climbs

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    (Photo by Jeff Kubina)

    As a kid, you probably loved the monkey bars. However, you probably never realized they’re actually a very effective piece of exercise equipment. Monkey bar climbs can be performed by starting on one end and climbing to the other side using just your arms and hands.

    While your goal in the beginning should be to simply complete the climb from one side to the other, you can eventually make it more challenging by limiting your swaying and consciously keeping your core stable. It’s best to use a playground with rubber mulch, as opposed to other surfaces, since this material has a much better fall height rating.

    2. Pull-Ups and Chin-Ups

    Monkey bars
      (Photo by Matt Brown)

      Another classic playground exercise is the pull-up or chin-up. Not only are these extremely effective at building upper body strength, but it’s easy to find something to use. Some playgrounds actually have pull-up bars meant for this very purpose, while you may have to use monkey bars or some other playground element to achieve this workout.

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      If the bar is made for a child – i.e. too close to the ground – simply bend your legs at the knee. Try to get in as many sets of 10 as you can – alternating between pull-ups and chin-ups as you go.

      3. Swing Set Squat

      6960361487_72d6730fed_k
        (Photo by Giggles for Lisa)

        Here’s an effective lower body workout. Find a swing set and stand with your back to the swing. Now tuck one of your legs behind you on the swing. Point your other foot straight in front of you and your hands directly on your hips. Now lower yourself into a squat position. As you squat, your back leg will glide further back and you’ll feel like you’re doing a half split.

        4. Jungle Gym Push Up

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          (Photo by Dan4th Nicholas)

          While you can always do a traditional push up anywhere near the playground, add a level of difficulty by doing an angled push up on a jungle gym or playground ladder. Stand arms-length away with feet shoulder-width apart. Place your hands on the bar at chest height and keep your back straight. Now, bend your elbows until you’re a couple inches from the bar. Extend back up and repeat.

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          5. Bench Dip

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            (Photo by Edi Hargett)

            Too many kids on the playground and don’t want to interfere? Head back to the bench and do some dips. Simply stand with your back against the bench, and grip the edge with your legs extended in front of you. Lower yourself until you’re a few inches from the ground and then slowly push back up.

            Have Fun at the Playground!

            When it comes to being a good parent and staying fit, you shouldn’t have to compromise. There are ways to effectively multi-task and enjoy the best of both worlds. While the playground may be where your children enjoy spending an hour in the afternoon, it’s also somewhere you can get a good workout in.

            Try out these creative exercises and don’t be afraid to come up with a few of your own.

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            Featured photo credit: Matthew Paul Argall via flic.kr

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            Last Updated on August 22, 2019

            14 Helpful Tips for Single Parents: How to Stay Sane While Doing it All

            14 Helpful Tips for Single Parents: How to Stay Sane While Doing it All

            According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 27% of children under the age of 18 are living with a single parent.[1] That’s over 1/4th of the U.S. population.There is a common misconception that children who grow up in single parent homes are not as successful as children living in two-parent homes.

            One crucial detail that was often left out of studies when comparing single and two-parent homes was the stability of the household. There is a correlation between family structure and family stability, but this study shows that children who grow up in stable single-parent homes do as well as those in married households in terms of academic abilities and behavior.

            But providing stability is easier said than done. With only one adult to act as a parent, some tasks are inherently more challenging. However, there are a few helpful things you can do to make the parenting journey a little easier for yourself and stay sane while doing it.

            1. Don’t Neglect Self-Care

            Before anything else can be done, you must be caring for your own needs adequately. Only when you are feeling well-rested and healthy can you be at your best for your children.

            Many parents tend to put their kids’ needs first and their owns last, but that will result in a never-ending cycle of exhaustion and feelings of inadequacy. Make time to eat regularly and healthfully, get plenty of rest, and squeeze in exercise whenever you can. Even a short walk around the neighborhood will help your body get much-needed movement and fresh air.

            Your children depend on you, and it’s up to you to make sure that you are well-equipped and ready to take on that responsibility.

            2. Join Forces with Other Single Parents

            At times, it may seem like you’re the only person who knows what it’s like to be a single parent. However, the statistics say that there are many others who know exactly what you’re going through.

            Find single parents locally, through your kid’s school, extracurricular activities, or even an app. There are also numerous online communities that can offer support and advice, through Facebook or sites like Single Mom Nation.

            Although single moms make up the majority of single parents, there are more than 2.6 million single dads in the U.S. A great way to connect is through Meetup. Other single parents will more than happy to arrange babysitting swaps, playdates, and carpools.

            Join forces in order to form mutually beneficial relationships.

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            3. Build a Community

            In addition to finding support with other single parents, also build a community comprised of families of all different types. Rather than focus solely on the single parent aspect of your identity, look for parents and kids who share other things in common.

            Join a playgroup, get plugged in at a church, or get to know the parents of the kids involved in the same extracurricular activities. Having a community of a variety of people and families will bring diversity and excitement into your and your kids’ lives.

            4. Accept Help

            Don’t try to be a superhero and do it all yourself. There are probably people in your life who care about you and your kids and want to help you. Let them know what types of things would be most appreciated, whether it’s bringing meals once a week, helping with rides to school, or giving you time to yourself.

            There is no shame in asking for help and accepting assistance from loved ones. You will not be perceived as weak or incompetent. You are being a good parent by being resourceful and allowing others to give you a much-needed break.

            5. Get Creative with Childcare

            Raising a child on a single income is a challenge, with the high cost of daycares, nannies, and other conventional childcare services. More affordable options are possible if you go a less traditional route.

            If you have space and live in a college town, offer a college student housing in exchange for regular childcare. Or swap kids with other single parents so that your kids have friends to play with while the parents get time to themselves.

            When I was younger, my parents had a group of five family friends, and all of the children would rotate to a different house each day of the week, during the summer months. The kids would have a great time playing with each other, and the parents’ job becomes a lot easier. That’s what you would call a win-win situation.

            6. Plan Ahead for Emergencies

            As a single parent, a backup plan or two is a must in emergency situations. Make a list of people you know you can call in a moment’s notice. There will be times in which you need help, and it’s important to know ahead of time who you can rely on.

            Look into whether or not your area offers emergency babysitting services or a drop-in daycare. Knowing who will be able to care for your child in the event of an emergency can relieve one potential source of anxiety in stressful situations.

            7. Create a Routine

            Routines are crucial for young children because knowing what to expect gives them a semblance of control. This is even more important when in a single parent home.

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            If the child travels between homes or has multiple caretakers, life can seem extremely chaotic and unpredictable. Establish a routine and schedule for your child as much as possible. This can include bedtime, before/after school, chores, meal times, and even a weekend routine.

            Having a routine does not mean things cannot change. It is merely a default schedule to fall back on when no additional events or activities are going on. When your children know what to expect, they will be less resistant because they know what to expect, and days will run much more smoothly.

            8. Be Consistent with Rules and Discipline

            If your child has multiple caretakers, such as another parent, grandparent, or babysitter, communicate clearly on how discipline will be handled. Talk to your ex, if you are sharing custody, as well as any other caretakers about the rules and the agreed-upon approach to discipline.

            When a child realizes that certain rules can be bent with certain people, he/she will use it to their advantage, causing additional issues with limits, behavior, and discipline down the road.

            This article may help you to discipline your child better:

            How to Discipline a Child (The Complete Guide for Different Ages)

            9. Stay Positive

            Everyone has heard the saying, “Mind over matter.” But there really is so much power behind your mentality. It can change your perspective and make a difficult situation so much better.

            Your kids will be able to detect even the smallest shift in your attitude. When the responsibilities of motherhood are overwhelming, stay focused on the positive things in your life, such as your friends and family. This will produce a much more stable home environment.

            Maintain your sense of humor and don’t be afraid to be silly. Look towards the future and the great things that are still to come for you and your family. Rediscover and redefine your family values.

            10. Move Past the Guilt

            In a single parent home, it is impossible to act as both parents, regardless of how hard you try. Let go of the things that you cannot do as a single parent, and instead, think of the great things you ARE able to provide for your children.

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            Leave behind the notion that life would be easier or better with two parents. This is simply not true. There is a multitude of pros and cons to all family dynamics, and the one you are providing for your kids now is the one that they need.

            Don’t get bogged down by guilt or regret. Take control of your life and be the best parent you can by being present and engaged with them on a daily basis.

            11. Answer Questions Honestly

            Your kids may have questions about why their home situation is different from many of their friends. When asked, don’t sugarcoat the situation or give them an answer that is not accurate.

            Depending on their age, take this opportunity to explain the truth of what happened and how the current circumstances came about. Not all families have two parents, whether that is due to divorce, death, or whatever else life brings.

            Don’t give more detail than necessary or talk badly about the other parent. But strive to be truthful and honest. Your children will benefit more from your candor than a made-up story.

            12. Treat Kids Like Kids

            In the absence of a partner, it can be tempting to rely on your children for comfort, companionship, or sympathy. But your kids are not equipped to play this role for you.

            There are many details within an adult relationship that children are not able to understand or process, and it will only cause confusion and resentment.

            Do not take out your anger on your kids. Separate your emotional needs from your role as a mother. If you find yourself depending on your kids too much, look for adult friends or family members that you can talk to about your issues.

            13. Find Role Models

            Find positive role models of the opposite sex for your child. It’s crucial that your child does not form negative associations with an entire gender of people.

            Find close friends or family members that would be willing to spend one-on-one time with your kids. Encourage them to form meaningful relationships with people that you trust and that they can look up to.

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            Role models can make a huge difference in the path that a child decides to take, so be intentional about the ones that you put in your kids’ lives.

            14. Be Affectionate and Give Praise

            Your children need your affection and praise on a daily basis. Engage with your kids as often as possible by playing with them, going on outings, and encouraging open dialogue.

            Affirm them in the things that they are doing well, no matter how small. Praise their efforts, rather than their achievements. This will inspire them to continue to put forth hard work and not give up when success is not achieved.

            Rather than spending money on gifts, spend time and effort in making lasting memories.

            Final Thoughts

            Being a single parent is a challenging responsibility to take on. Without the help of a partner to fall back on, single parents have a lot more to take on.

            However, studies show that growing up in a single parent home does not have a negative effect on achievement in school. As long as the family is a stable and safe environment, kids are able to excel and do well in life.

            Use these tips in order to be a reliable and capable parent for your kids, while maintaining your own well-being and sanity.

            More Resources About Parenting

            Featured photo credit: Eye for Ebony via unsplash.com

            Reference

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