Melinda Kunz realizes her everyday routine is about to change drastically with her husband being deployed this March for one year. This “unexpected and unwanted news” also means adjusting a running routine that has included her husband. “Not only is he my biggest cheerleader, but he trains and frequently races with me,” Melinda says.
Still, like other AMR tribe members who are shouldering the bulk of parenting duties, whether as military spouses or otherwise, Melinda is determined to keep lacing up her running shoes. “I’m determined to still race this year, including another full marathon this fall.”
She turned to the AMR community via our Facebook page not long ago for support, and as always, mother runners responded with awesome ideas. We’ve gathered some of the best ways single moms are getting it done—at home caring for their kiddos and for themselves, at the gym, on the treadmill and out on the road and trails:
Ask for Help. Simple enough, but, yep, not always easy to do, we all know too well. Keep in mind this sage advice from mother runner Emily J.: “There’s never anything wrong with asking for help – a year is a long time and friends would be happy to help in any way.” Another oft-repeated suggestion: try swapping babysitting duties with neighbors and friends. Chances are they could use some extra breathing space, too. "I help out other moms as often as possible so I don't feel (as) bad about asking for help when I 'need' a run on the weekends or someone to pick up my daughter at school," says Sheryl M., single mom to 9-year-old Elizabeth.
Grab the bikes & scooters: Solo runs are amazing when you can get ‘em, but having our kids join us is better than no run at all, right? Everyone gets some fresh air and exercise. Or, find someplace where they can play and you can run. “We have a local park with a .3-mile loop around it,” says the mother runner known as Mom and Running It on FB. “I’ve run lap after lap after lap while the kiddos have played.”
Make friends with the ‘mill. Mother runner Cyndie suggested checking online for an inexpensive treadmill, if you don’t have one already. “I just got a pretty good one—a little dinged up, but works great!” she says. Others said joining gyms with childcare options helped keep them stick with their training (and save their sanity).
Hire a sitter (no guilt allowed!). Find a reliable teen in your neighborhood and make a babysitting schedule for when your kids aren’t in school—this is especially helpful for long runs, several mother runners shared. It’s not selfish—it’s necessary, more than one poster said. Another idea: have your oldest take on more responsibility and watch the younger ones. Says mother runner Steph, “this could be a great opportunity for her to grow as she is entrusted with that responsibility.”
Demonstrate your passion for running to your kids. We love this story shared by Sheryl M., whose 9-year-old daughter Elizabeth knows all too well the importance of mom fitting in a run (Sheryl keeps running clothes and shoes in the car and will run during her daughter's dance class or playdate as well as during basketball practice and Girl Scout meetings): as Sheryl's birthday approached, Elizabeth asked her mom if there was anything "from the Mom running group" that she wanted. "She liked the T-shirts 'It's all good, I ran today' and 'If you don't have anything nice to say, go for a run.'" How cool that Elizabeth "gets" her mom! "Making myself a priority, as a single mom working full time, is a daily challenge," Sheryl says, "and it's wonderful having a group like Another Mother Runner as a great reminder ... Single parenting is hard, but I'm a better mom and a happier person when I work out, eat well, and get enough sleep most of the time. My daughter knows how important fitness is to me and that makes a huge difference, too."
Run with a group. Never underestimate the power of getting out there with fellow mother runners. “I’m a single mum and the group I train with makes all the difference on the motivation side of things,” says mother runner Brigitte L. “They were my biggest fans when training for my first marathon last year. And I am sure if I’d asked, they would have minded my kids, too.” (Brigitte ran early, when her kids were asleep or had her parents there to help out). Looking for a running group or a BRF? Check out our AMR forums here.