Ab Crunches and the Single Parent

Having been serving as a de facto single Dad for the past week, I’ve had a lot to handle and not as much time as I would like to do some of the things I would have liked to do (such as writing on this blog, for instance!).  One of those things was going to the gym to work out.

After throwing my back out a few years ago, putting my wife in a position where she had to do pretty much everything around the house for about six weeks, I joined a gym and began to get into cardiovascular shape and embarked on some fairly simple weight training.  Central to what I wanted to do, though, was to strengthen my core so that I didn’t throw my back out again (it was a brutal experience).  Lots of ab exercises and lower back stretching.

Not going to the gym this week has raised a pretty simple question for me: how do single parents work out?

The only times I could have gone this week were following work, after I had picked my kids up at camp.  (I couldn’t go early morning because I needed to be home to take care of them, and it has been a busy week at work.)  But each day the kids were tired after a full day at camp and I didn’t think I should put them into daycare at the gym for an hour or hour and a half.  Doing so didn’t seem fair to them or particularly considerate to their needs.  They needed to regroup, watch some television or do some reading.  Plus I needed to get home, get dinner prepared, and start the long process that leads them toward bedtime. (The same issues would have held true during the school year.  My kids are wiped out when they get home from school.  They need to rest or just veg out.)

It seems to me that single parents who wish to work out need to place their children into this type of daycare at the gym, though, if they want to stay in shape, because they have limited options as to when they can work out.  But what does this lead to?  Getting home later, starting dinner later, and getting them to bed later: more tired kids, more stress in the home.  Whereas I will be able to arrange for piano and tennis lessons after school this Fall, as well as sign the boys up for soccer and get them to practices and games, all while still being able to get to the gym because I can share these responsibilities with my wife, I wonder if these are the types of opportunities that are less accessible for single parents for whom working out is not only a desire but perhaps also a need.

The reality is that many people need to get into shape for health reasons – perhaps for weight reasons, or heart reasons, or to rehab an injury.  Short of taking time off from work, what are the options for those who are both the primary wage-earner and caregiver of their families?

This obviously raises class issues.  Not everyone CAN take time off from work readily.  Not everyone can afford a gym where there is daycare, let alone a gym at all.  While some people can work out at lunch, not everyone gets enough time off for lunch to do this and still eat.  How do these people manage?

My wife returns tonight and I’ll be heading to the gym tomorrow morning, I’m pretty sure.  And I’ll be sore from running and from lifting and from all those ab exercises that are so tortuous.  Still, that soreness will be a sign that I’m one of the lucky ones, really.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: