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How Parents Can Find Time to Run

How Moms and Dads Can Get Motivated

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Updated January 25, 2014

Whether your kids are babies or teenagers, trying to balance running with caring for their needs (as well as all your other responsibilities) can be difficult. Here are some tips for parents who are trying to find time to run:

Find a gym with childcare.

When our daughter was 17 months old, my husband and I joined a gym that has babysitting and I only wish we had done it sooner. It wasn't as expensive as I thought it would be (way cheaper than paying for a babysitter to come to my home) and my daughter actually enjoys playing with other kids while mom or dad gets a workout.

More: How to Choose a Gym

Break up your runs.

Don't assume that you have to run 30 minutes all at once. Take advantage of short amounts of time to run. If you have 15 minutes to run on the treadmill before you start making dinner, go for it. Then, while dinner is cooking, jump on for another 15 minutes. As long as you do the segments in the same day, your body is basically getting the same benefits as if you ran all the miles in one workout.

More: Can I Split My Long Runs?

Make running a priority.

Schedule your runs and get your spouse on board so you get help with some of the child-care responsibilities. And get creative by taking advantage of opportunities to run. For example, if you're watching your kid's soccer game, run some laps around the field before or even during the game.

More: How to Make Running a Priority

Invest in a jogging stroller.

Although it makes your run a little harder, running with a jogging stroller is a great workout and most kids love going along for a ride. Once you a have jogging stroller, you'll find it easier to squeeze in runs. For example, my daughter's preschool is about one mile from our house, so I sometimes run with my two kids in the double stroller and drop her off. (Of course, I do get strange looks from some people on my way back home because I'm running with just one kid in a double stroller.)

Take full advantage of downtime.

Parents spend lots of time in the car, shuttling kids back and forth to activities. If you find yourself with a small block of time in between pick-ups and drop-offs, use it for exercise rather than heading home for a very short period of time. It helps to have an extra set of running clothes and running shoes in your car, so you're prepared if you have some unexpected downtime.
More: 6 Tips for Busy Runners

Buddy up with another parent.

There are plenty of other moms and dads in the same situation as you. See if you can work out a childcare swap with another parent. You take all the kids for an hour while she works out, and then she can watch the gang while you get your run in.

Get your kids involved.

Look for creative ways to get your kids involved in your running. If your kids are old enough to ride bikes, take them to a bike path, where you can run alongside them. Or, head to the local high school track and have your kids play soccer or catch on the field while you run laps.

Run in the morning.

I know how hard it is to get up before the kids wake up and sneak out for a run, but it feels so great later in the day when you don't have to worry about squeezing exercise into a busy day. If you have trouble getting motivated to work out in the a.m., try some of these tips for running in the morning.
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