Guest author Sheila Olson returns in this week's installment of the Yoga Living Project to share relatable advice for single parents looking to strengthen their health and manage stress. Read below to see her takes on the 3 biggest obstacles single parents might face on this journey and as always, send your feedback, insights or content ideas to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.!



Single Parenting, Exercising, and Stress Management on a Budget


Stress is something that single parents know all too well. Between worry over finances, possible conflict with the ex, and trying to find the time to shuffle everyone back and forth between school and extracurricular activities, there’s hardly a moment in the day to spare. Because of this, an unsettling majority of single parents tend to put their own health and wellness on the back burner. But is that really the best thing for the kids? Evidence suggests it’s not. 

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry explains that children look to their parents and caregivers as role models. They will grow to emulate the behaviors they’ve grown up watching. Parents who don’t make their own health and wellness a priority raise children who do the same, which can trigger a downward spiral through the generations. So, here are some helpful tips for single parents who are living on a limited budget.


But there isn’t any time…

Time, or a lack thereof, is often cited as a reason to forgo physical fitness, especially for single parents. But no matter how busy the schedule, there is always time to get moving — and the kids can join in. Bright Horizons suggests taking a walk through the neighborhood or going for a bike ride. Parents are also encouraged to set a limit on screen time for their kids by having them squeeze in some fun workout bursts (e.g., jumping jacks) during commercial breaks. Younger children may enjoy an impromptu dance party a few times a week, which provides an excellent cardiovascular workout. Most importantly, these healthy activities won’t require you to spend any additional money, unless you need new exercise gear. Thankfully, you can use discounts such as Kohl’s coupon codes to keep those expenses under control. You can even take advantage of clearances and stock up on all the athletic wear you need.


I can’t afford a gym membership

As mentioned, money is often a luxury that is in short supply for single parents, and the cost of an expensive gym membership is buried underneath other financial obligations. Thankfully, there’s almost a limitless roster of ways to work out sans gym membership. explains that DIY boot camps are great ways to utilize community green spaces to get in shape. A major benefit here is that parents can get together with other moms and dads for a workout while the kids take advantage of the playground. During bad weather, indoor workouts may be necessary, but most communities have a built-in solution available to you. Many large churches and community centers offer free to extremely low-cost, income-based memberships. There is also the option of walking laps at the local indoor mall.


But how does exercise relieve stress?

The American Council on Exercise explains that exercise has a calming effect on the mind and body. Essentially, working out releases feel-good chemicals that can assist with stress management. Exercise can also help sway you to eat healthier foods, which is another key to relieving stress.


Exercise is important for all children and adults, but perhaps more so for single parents who must rely on themselves more than those in a two-parent household. In addition to maintaining a physical fitness routine, single parents are encouraged to take more time for themselves, even if it’s just a 15-minute shower in the evenings, to decompress from their busy schedule.

While time and money are a concern, there are plenty of ways to fit physical fitness into a busy day without breaking the bank. The actions parents demonstrate today will lay the foundation for how their children treat themselves as adults. Children thrive when parents set good examples with more than words.


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