How Parents Can Find Time to Run

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. Intellectually we know that it's important for parents to stay fit and that doing so is part of being a good role model for children. And there are many reasons why running is good for parents as well.

Yet, it's easier talking about why running is good than actually doing it. Many parents already feel parental guilt for not spending enough time with their child. And if one parent finds more time to exercise than the other, this can lead to marital conflict as well.

But there is hope. There are a number of different ways you can find time to run. The methods that will work best for you may differ from those another parent, so we offer a number of different suggestions. Some of these ideas include ways of making sure your child is cared for while you run, while others share ways in which you can run with your child.

 

Invest in a Jogging Stroller

Moms with running strollers
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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 have a jogging stroller, you'll find it easier to squeeze in runs.

At first, the price of jogging strollers may seem high, but compared to your freedom to run, they can be well worth it. You may also be able to find a relatively new and gently used stroller on a site such as Craigslist. Even though these strollers can feel like lifesavers if you have young children, kids usually outgrow them before they are worn out.

While some parents have feared that running with a jogging stroller could lead to changes in kinematics (the mechanics of motion of the body), this does not appear to be the case, and these strollers do not affect knee and ankle kinematics. For those who are serious runners, however, working with the flexibility of your spine, pelvis, and hips may be helpful.

Find a Gym With Childcare

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Parents who have joined a gym that provides babysitting often wish they had done so earlier. While it may seem like an expensive option, it may be far less than you would expect. It could cost much more to have a babysitter come to your home.

Not only may it be a cheaper option than hiring a babysitter, but you will have the ride to and from the gym with your children. And many children actually enjoy playing with other kids while mom or dad gets a workout. Plus, a final advantage is that you can check on your child visibly at any time.

Of course, there are factors other than babysitting that are important in choosing a gym. Learn more about what you should know when joining a gym, in addition to babysitting options.

Break Up Your Runs

Women on treadmill
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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 on the same day, your body is basically getting the same benefits as if you ran all the miles in one workout. Learning to split up long runs is one way that many parents have found the time to train for distance running such as marathons.

Make Running a Priority

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If you've been a parent for a while, you've probably found that if something is not on the calendar it doesn't happen. You can make running a priority by scheduling your runs and getting your spouse on board to help with some of the child-care responsibilities.

It may require some creativity to take 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.

Get Your Kids Involved

Kids running in park
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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.

Take Full Advantage of Downtime

Breathing well leads to relaxation
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Parents spend lots of time in the car, shuttling kids back and forth to activities, and simply waiting. 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.

If you want to take the most advantage of downtime, 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.

From planning your runs at the beginning of the week, to taking a look for wasted moments in your day, check out our tips for busy runners.

Run In the Morning

Two men on an early morning run
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It's hard to get up before the kids in the morning, but it can feel great later in the day when you don't have to worry about squeezing exercise into what's left of your day.

If you have trouble finding the motivation to work out in the early hours of the day, get motivated to run in the morning.

Buddy Up With Another Parent

Two male running friends running in front of Brooklyn bridge, New York, USA VIEW DETAILS Two male running friends running in front of Brooklyn bridge, New York, USA
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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.

Bottom Line on Finding Time to Run When You Have Kids

We know that regular exercise such as running is beneficial to both parents and their children, but it may feel almost impossible to find the time. Yet by making running a priority and following some of our tips above, even the busiest of parents should be able to increase the miles they run each week.

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