As a single working mom with three kids I'm always trying to find new ways to balance staying active and spending quality time with the kids. It’s easy to do this if you have limitless funds to spend on gym memberships, fitness classes, sports, and personal trainers; however, I can’t afford that. So how are you supposed to balance life, the budget, and your kids?
The solution, as always, is multi-tasking! Here are five great ways for you and the kids to stay active and spend quality time on a budget.
1. Find an affordable sports club you can join with your child
Okay, this sounds a little out there (even for me) until I stumbled upon the Taekwondo place next to my daughter's childcare.
At Double Dragons Martial Arts in Houston, adults learn the basics of Taekwondo alongside kids age 6 and up. It has a great atmosphere of respect, discipline, and shared learning (at any age). If shared classes really aren't your thing, there are many centers that offer staggered classes for different age groups so you can all get a turn.
A lot of centers like this will offer discounts for additional family members and often run specials (in this case three months for $165). The free trial lesson and uniform was another great perk—so do your research! Watch out for places in your area that include free trial periods and family discounts.
2. Playground time
When was the last time you actually played at the playground? It can seriously be a lot of fun and a huge workout! Swinging is great for your core, monkey bars strenghten your arms, chasing the kids up and down the jungle 'gym' works your legs. There are so many ways to get your workout in at the playground (while also entertaining the kids). Although you may feel a little silly doing it, your kids will probably think you’re that much cooler, and it costs nothing!
If your kids are a little old for the playground then make use of your neighborhood or park’s tennis court or swimming pool (if it has one), or take up bike riding together. If you're the adventurous type then learn to ride a skateboard or take them out for a hike. Young kids are naturally active—so if you're out of ideas, look to them for inspiration!
If you don't mind spending a little cash, then you can search for trampolining and bounce places. They’re often only $5 to $10 per person. Groupon and Living Social both regularly offer specials for various locations. It’s fantastic indoor fun for non-playground weather!
3. Exercise videos
As a kid I remember laughing at my mom prancing around to Jane Fonda's exercise regime on the TV, but now I’m a total convert. There are some great programs you can buy—a personal favorite is the free app called Nexercise (you can earn real life rewards just for exercising!) or you can have access to hundreds of workout regimes by getting Daily Burn for $12.95 per month (and the first month is free!).
So now I'm the one prancing around like a loon in the living room as my kids watch with amusement, read their books, get in some homework time, or even prance along with me.
If you're not convinced enough to spend money—just search "free online workouts" on your computer. There are countless videos out there of every workout imaginable that will cost you nothing.
4. Go for a daily walk
Finding time for a 15 minute stroll with the kids sounds easy—but with school, work, bath time, dinner, homework, and everything else you have to do in a day, fifteen minutes is actually pretty hard to come by. However, a few minutes of active time with the kids should be a priority, so try to work it into your routine.
Walk the dog and let the kids scoot, ride or walk alongside you; talk about their day; share with them about yours. It's free, it's great for your health, and it encourages better communication and relationships. Don't have a dog? Find a neighbor’s dog to walk for them; it will commit you to the activity and maybe let the kids earn a little pocket money too!
5. Hire a trainer
This sounds expensive, but it doesn't need to be if you’re having someone train the entire family. Find a local, understanding trainer who will put you and your kids through the motions in a group family session. Not only will you and the kids get your workout in for the day, but it will be entertaining and inspirational for all to work out alongside each other. Much better than sweating it out on your own!
This has been a guest post by Katy from Houston, Texas.