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The Fit Mom’s Guide to Playground Workout Hacks

The Fit Mom’s Guide to Playground Workout Hacks

Unfortunately, the playground isn’t your playground anymore.

You’re only there to let the kids run wild in a place that’s not your living room. It’s more than just a way to burn through pent-up energy, though. Having your kids play outside can provide them with an incredible number of benefits, from increased vitamin D levels to better grades at school.[1] And, hey, it doesn’t hurt that a super-long stint at the playground might inspire a few extra-long naps later in the day.

The only problem is you might feel a little left out of the feel-good exercise that’s happening all around you. You could, of course, partake in the sliding, swinging, and dangling from monkey bars, but you might also prefer a more concentrated, grown-up workout.

We have the solution you need so that everyone can benefit from outside time — playground workouts tailored to mom. Here’s a guide to playground workout hacks for the fit mom:

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Bench Jumps

They’re called box jumps at the gym, but do you see any CrossFit boxes anywhere? That’s why these are now called “bench jumps”. Find a bench or playground step that’s a reasonable jumping distance off of the ground and jump up, landing with both feet on the platform. Step down carefully and repeat.

Slide Tricep Dips

Find the least popular slide on the playground and go to town on your triceps:

  • Put your hands on the slide, plant your feet flat on the ground in front of you, and bend your knees.
  • Slide your body forward so that your booty is off of the slide and your arms are behind you.
  • Dip down so your elbows are at a 90-degree angle, and then push yourself back up with your triceps.

Swing Squats

You’d be hard-pressed to find a toddler who doesn’t love being pushed in the swings for what can feel like forever. Make better use of your time behind the ropes by dipping down for a squat between each push you give. If your child never tires of being pushed, you’re in for a serious leg-and-butt workout.

Swing Push-Ups

Here’s a move for when your child grows out of the swing. Put your feet into the seat and your hands on the ground, arms straight so that you’re in plank position. Lower your upper body down toward the mulch and back up and voila. You’ve just done one push-up.

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Stroller Press

Not all of your workout moves will take place on the playground itself. This is one that you can perform on the way to or from the park if your kiddos travel by stroller. Find a sloped pathway to push your stroller up — with one hand. Bend your arm and focus on your chest muscles, because that’s what we’re working here. And while you’re pushing and undoubtedly talking to your child, he or she will benefit, too, because social interaction helps children learn.[2]

Monkey Bar Abs

Your core is super important to your overall physical health since it, you know, supports your spine.[3] Therefore, you should find a set of monkey bars, grab on, and hang. Then, lift your knees up to your chest and really work those muscles. When you master this move, you can lift your straightened legs all the way up so that your body is in a 90-degree angle. Then, you can move onto tapping the monkey bar with your toes.

Stair Jumping Lunges

Your local playground probably has at least one set of stairs with a safety railing — for you, this railing is a way to balance as you go into an intense set of jumping lunges.

Start with one leg on a step. This one should be bent so that your back leg is straight and you’re in a lunge position. Then, jump up, straighten your arms and, while you’re in the air, switch legs so that the back leg is now bent forward on the step. Like we said, that railing is going to give you support in a move that’s seriously intense.

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Fireman Pole-Sit

Again, beware of sliding children before settling in for this move. You’ll simply put your back against the pole for support and slide down into a seated position with legs at a 90-degree angle and hold. The longer you can hold it, the more intense of a burn you’ll feel.

Jungle Gym Plank

Find a section of the jungle gym where there’s a bar that runs parallel to the ground. Grab onto the bar with your hands directly beneath your shoulders and step your feet back until you’re in a bona fide plank position. Hold it for as long as you can and you’re sure to feel your abs engage.

Ladder Toe Taps

Grab hold of the vertical bars of your playground’s ladder and tap the highest horizontal bar you can with your toe. Then, switch legs as quickly as you can, tapping the same bar. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Elevated Bridge Jumps

The bridge from which your kiddos can survey the entire playground is now your spot to get in a bit of explosive, leg-toning cardio. Stand just next to it with your arms overhead, and then jump up as high as you can, and try and reach the top railing. Do this as many times as you can for a 30-second stretch, working your way up to a full minute of high-intensity jumps.

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Creative Cardio

The best part about taking your kids to the playground is not just watching them play but joining in — chances are, they love it when you do. So, for a bit of heart-pumping cardio, organize a game of tag or red-light, green-light, or any other playground game that gets everyone’s feet moving.[4] We promise the rest of your workout will pale in comparison to this — the part where you get to play with your loves.

These moves prove that it’s possible to build a workout outside of the gym and we have a sneaking suspicion that once you start, you’ll be able to incorporate some creative moves of your own. More importantly, you’re breaking a sweat and giving your kids the fun, carefree playground memories that they’ll cherish for the rest of their lives.

Now we call that a win-win.

Reference

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Published on December 14, 2018

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.

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Featured photo credit: Bruno Nascimento via unsplash.com

Reference

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