Did you know October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month? This loss is more common than most people realize. Local mom and KAG Guest Contributor, Tanika Dillard, is sharing her story of infant and pregnancy loss with us today in order to raise awareness and let others know they are not alone.
Are you struggling to find easy school-night dinner ideas and tips and tricks? With a schedule this year that allows only a small slot of time for family dinner, I was struggling myself to figure out how to ensure we have a family dinner with as little work as possible. I asked our Kidding Around readers for tips on easy meal planning and easy dinners, and they delivered with a great list for you of weekday dinner ideas, ways of saving time in the kitchen, and more.
Busy school night? The answer to “what should I make for dinner?” is right here. Our readers chimed in with a list of their go-to easy meals to create a list of tried and true meal ideas that really work for families on school nights.
1. “For vegan/vegetarian friends…Sauté onions, celery, and carrots. Then add zucchini, yellow squash, tomato sauce, and a can of cannellini beans. Add salt, pepper, and Italian seasonings to taste. Simmer until zucchini is tender. While this is simmering roast a spaghetti squash on 400 in the oven. This will take about 45 min. Serve mixture over squash and with garlic bread.” – Kristen Barnett
2. “Chicken and Rice casserole. Mix 1 can Cream of Mushroom (or Golden Mushroom) soup, 1 can French Onion Soup, 1 can water, 1 cup white rice. Put the mixture I’m into a 9 by 13 greased dish and too with chicken pieces… thighs and legs with skin on is the most tasty. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 for 1 1/2 hours.. take cover off and cook another 30 minutes. This goes well with green beans and a fruit… and rolls” -Jo Ann Hammel
3. “While the weather’s warm one of our go-to meals is chicken, veggie, pineapple kebabs with either a garlic herb rice pilaf or Fresh Market orzo salad. We make the kebabs ourselves, using the linked marinade and loading the skewer with chicken, bell pepper, tomato, onion, and fresh pineapple chunks. Assemble and put on to marinate the night before and you have an easy meal.” -Julie McArdle
4. “This is especially a kiddo pleaser, but my husband likes these, too. Use thick sliced bologna and pan-sear it on both sides. Put them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, put a scoop of mashed potatoes on top of each slice of bologna and top that with a slice of cheese. Broil til cheese is melted. Serve with a roll and salad, and you’ve got dinner in under 20.” -Elaine Williams
5. “Sweet potato enchiladas. Cook sweet potatoes in insta pot while cooking ground beef (turkey) with a yellow onion and poblano pepper (both diced) along with minced garlic and 1 small can enchilada sauce. Open up your sweet potato and put ground beef mixture inside, and top with avocado, sour cream, black olives. Delicious and healthy!” -Regina Earwood
6. “Sheet pan meal! Roast kielbasa, broccoli, and potatoes. Prep is so quick!” -Katie Hottel
7. “Make big pots of curries or chilis on Sunday afternoons and it will last you until Wednesday and the chili/curry gets better each day! Mix up the sides for variety!” Kate Fowler
8. “This is a go to meal that is super easy to make but packs a lot of flavor…We call it ‘hamburger soup.’ ” -Kristen Barnett
Hamburger Soup 1lb of ground beef 4-5 potatoes peeled and diced 1 small onion diced 5-6 carrots washed, peeled if desired, cut into thick slices 1-2 stalks of celery, diced 1 32oz can of diced tomatoes 3 bay leaves 1/2 32oz carton of beef broth
Sauté onions, celery, and carrots until onions are translucent. Add ground beef. Once beef is browned, add potatoes, canned tomatoes, broth, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Simmer for about a hour or until potatoes are fork tender. To make it super easy, you can use canned potatoes and carrots and frozen onions. Serve with yummy corn bread.
Corn bread 2 cups of white or yellow cornmeal NOT cornmeal mix 2 eggs 2 cups of buttermilk 1 tsp baking soda 1 tsp salt
Cook in heated 10-12” cast iron skillet on 400 for 25-30 min or until top is golden brown.
9. “Burritos or burrito bowls. Protein(s) of beans and/ or meat, and then whatever else we have around that might be good. Tonight this included rice, avocado, tomatoes, sour cream or Greek yogurt, salsa, sautéed peppers & onions, sliced radishes, cheese, and some jalapeño.” -India Menon
10. “I make whole family packs of chicken at once, alternating grilled vs pressure cooker, and make several meals over a few days. Grilled fajita chicken gets thrown into Cajun chicken pasta the next night. Baked chicken goes into tacos, soups, tikka sauce, bbq sauce etc.” -Jaci Brush
11. “Cook chicken tenders seasoned with garlic, salt and pepper. Put them over bagged salad mix with cherry tomatoes, shredded carrots, olives, sliced cucumbers, cheese, croutons, sunflower seeds and favorite dressing! Easy and healthy!” -Suzi Suloff
12. “Garlic roasted chicken and I use the drippings to make chicken rice pilaf with roasted garlic puree.” -Danielle Vale
13. “I use my instant pot for easy, quick meals. Pulled chicken sandwiches, chicken tacos, easy soup recipes. My kids also love meatloaf which I make in a muffin pan which cuts cook time down to 20-30 minutes.” -Brandi Crowe
14. “Chili in the instant pot then use leftovers with some cheese and sour cream to make burritos next day or later that week. Loaded baked potatoes are also a hit veggies and meat and cheese everyone is happy. Another easy one is big bit or beef roast and cook slow in crock pot with dry rub. It makes so much that I do rice bowls one night and later in week I warm it up and add bbq sauce and serve it with buns. We also love butter chicken. It’s easy and sooo yummy.” -Crystal Acker
#1: Even If You Hate Meal Planning There Are Lots of Ways to Make It Easier
Taking time over the weekend to look at your schedule, plan your meals, and then to prep ingredients can really speed up dinner time during the week.
If you struggle with meal planning, you can subscribe to a meal planning service. Some services also include prep plans or connections to grocery pick-up services. I’ve used:
Fresh20 which was very helpful in that the meals used a lot of similar ingredients and there was a preparation list. This meal service utilizes a set pantry list which makes shopping easier and focuses on fresh ingredients.
Emeals which made it easy to switch plans or substitute out meals. It also connected with shopping apps like Instacart. My one issue with this meal planning service was a lot of processed ingredients were incorporated which made meals more expensive and often less healthy. Also, be sure to read the terms and conditions as you may need to call to cancel.
You can also find free weekly meal plans on the internet such as Mashup Mom’s free menu plans that only include ingredients found at Aldi. Her plans also focus on keeping shopping costs down.
If you prefer to DIY, an app like Paprika will allow you to store your recipes from the internet and create a meal plan and shopping list.
#2: Meal Prepping Takes an Hour or Two But Can Save Lots of Time During the Week
Rice: Especially, if you eat brown rice which can take an hour to cook, go ahead and cook your rice ahead of time so that it can just be warmed up.
Vegetables: Go ahead and cut up any vegetables for dinner meals that won’t go bad in the fridge. You can also prep a container of snacking vegetables at the same time to encourage healthy snacking and lunch packing during the week.
Meats: Cook up any meats such as ground beef that can be pre-cooked and/or frozen ahead of time. It’s always great to have some chicken or ground beef in the freezer for a fast meal of tacos. I often will cook a family-size package of chicken in the Instapot and then use my Kitchen Aid Mixer with the mixing attachment to shred it. The chicken can then be frozen in 2 cup bags for soups, casseroles, and tacos.
Beans: Make beans ahead of time in the crock pot or in the Instant Pot and just put them in the fridge for whatever recipes you need them for doing the week. Dry beans are so much cheaper than canned beans as well.
#3: Cook meals that can double as two or more meals.
A large pot of chili also makes a great baked potato topping on the following night.
Leftover taco seasoned meat or beans can also be used in burritos, burrito bowls, salads, nachos, quesadillas, and enchiladas.
Curries, tomato sauces, chilis, and stews often improve in flavor after a night in the fridge and make excellent leftovers. Switch out sides or types of pasta or rice to add variety.
Grilled chicken can be eaten in sandwich wraps, in pita bread with Greek toppings, or as a topping for salad.
#4: Consider Take Home Meal Kits and Other Services
One way that I keep my family meals simpler is by budgeting for one or more take-home meal kits on busy weeks. You can check our take-out meal list for local Upstate SC options. Some of these options are family-style meals that you can put in your fridge and warm up for dinner and others are restaurant family-size takeout.
Also, check to see if your local high school or college offers family meals through their culinary school or classes.
You can also purchase meal planning services that include the ingredients for each meal along with the recipe. While these plans tend to be expensive, you can often get a highly discounted trial box (just be sure to read the fine print).
Trying to spend more time outdoors with your family? Studies show that kids who spend time outdoors thrive socially, emotionally, and physically. We’ve got some ideas on how to help get your kids outdoors more in and around Greenville, SC.
Take a walk
Go to the playground
Sit outside and read
Play games outdoors
Find a waterfall
Take school outdoors
Ride a bike
I love the outdoors and get really antsy if I’m inside too long. Maybe it’s my personality of just never wanting to sit still or maybe it’s my wanderlust and adventurous spirit. But no matter, the outdoors is always calling. Studies show time spent outdoors is a really great thing, too, especially in this age of very stressed kids, who start as young as first grade with standardized and high-stakes tests. It only gets harder from there as most kids strive for college and scholarships.
Multiple studies show that kids learn better when spending more time outdoors, that schools with more tree cover performed better academically than schools without trees outside the building, that outdoor lessons are more effective than teaching inside classrooms, and that nature helps to develop self-discipline, restore focus, relieve stress, increase physical fitness and stamina, and promote social connections.
Studies also show that kids – and adults – are spending way too much time indoors in today’s world, whether it’s work, school, video games, or social media keeping us inside. The results are sobering: kids ages 8-12 spend an average of 4-6 hours a day in front of a screen, which is 1,440 up to 2,160 hours a year. For teens, the average is up to 9 hours a day, which equals an astounding 3,240 hours a year. That’s a lot of time. Like, a lot.
One mom saw all of this in her family and decided to start a movement called 1000 Hours Outside, which encourages families to match screen time (on the low end) with outdoor time and spend 1000 hours outdoors every year, which is a little under three hours a day. It doesn’t even matter what you do: walk your neighborhood, go to the park or playground, plant a garden, water your garden, read a book outside. Her goal was to start to make it a more normal occurence to think of going outside than staying indoors and reap the benefits of outside time.
Greenville = Outdoor Fun
Here in the Upstate, there are no shortages of places to go to spend time outdoors. I’ve always loved the outdoors but took up a serious love of hiking since moving to Greenville several years ago. The opportunities to explore are just endless and my kids and I have had some pretty amazing adventures, which have deepened our relationships with each other and ingrained in us a love of the environment, and instilled a desire to protect and clean it up – so, all good things.
If you need some ideas of how to take up a mentality of getting outdoors more with your family, here are 11 of them:
Take a walk
Live in a neighborhood or near a park? Go take a walk. It’s free and doesn’t require much effort and hardly any gear besides shoes. Don’t feel like you have to go far, even just a 10-minute walk can boost mood and release pent-up energy. There are also tons of paved paths around our area if you need to take your stroller.
Go to the playground
I know packing up little kids and taking them to the playground can sometimes seem like a Herculean effort but maybe find someplace close to your home or ramp up the excitement and find a new playground to check out.
Sit outside and read
Bring storytime outdoors. Invite the older kids to sit outside with you and read their favorite book or listen to their favorite playaway. Get some vitamin D with little effort.
Play a game outdoors
My kids and I have been at the Roper Mountain Science Center’s Living History Farm on some of their special event days and have played with small, wooden toys that were the simplest things ever but so fun. You don’t need to have some crazy expensive outdoor game to enjoy. It can be Twister, a card game, catch, something fun that your family likes. Other ideas our readers suggested were water balloons, tag, hide & seek, or have races.
Plant flowers or a garden
Have a little space outside? Plant a garden. Have a small pot? Plant a flower to grow indoors. Have a community garden (we have several in Greenville)? Rent a spot and plant your garden. Then spend time outside tending the garden, watering it, and reaping your harvest.
You knew this had to be on a list I was going to write since I just love hiking. There are hundreds of miles of trails in the Upstate alone and it’s easy to find one that takes into account your family’s ages and abilities.
Find a waterfall
There are also hundreds of waterfalls in the Upstate and throughout Western North Carolina and Northern Georgia, including several that are roadside so you don’t even need to hike if you don’t want to.
Take school outdoors
If you homeschool, bring your books outside or to a park and work on those math problems and worksheets outdoors. One day in the spring, I took my kids, their books, and hammocks out to Falls Park and we hung the hammocks and did our work next to the river. It was awesome. If your kids are in traditional school, bring them and their homework outdoors when they get home and do it there together.
Ride a bike
This is great for any age. Before my kids could ride their own bikes, I pulled them in a cart along the Swamp Rabbit Trail and stopped at the Swamp Rabbit Cafe for pastries and coffee, and let my kids play in the playground there. Or just ride your bike in your neighborhood or at a park.
Many of our readers suggested this idea – it’s basically an outdoor scavenger hunt using GPS coordinates. Read our story about geocaching locally by a local mom who does it with her kids.
Every season in Greenville brings something special: berry picking and wildflower hunting in the spring, swimming and creek stomping in the summer, farm events and apple picking in the fall, and Christmas tree shopping, snow tubing, and hot chocolate in the winter. You can get outdoors every season in the Upstate!
If you need more ideas of things to do outdoors in our area, see our big Outdoor Guide. A 1000 Hours Outdoors also has a ton of fantastic printables and ideas of things to do outdoors and helps spark creative ideas of how to prioritize getting your family outdoors more.
If you are a parent and a podcast lover, then the Raising Relationships podcast is for you! The podcast, created by the South Carolina Infant Mental Health Association (SCIMHA), offers parents and educators extra support and guidance for building strong bonds with young children in their lives. The podcast also discusses the rise in preschool expulsion, and what parents and educators can do to reduce these numbers. Thank you to SCIMHA for sponsoring this article.
We spoke with Amaris Gibson (MA, LPC-A, IMH-E® Infant Family Specialist) who is co-host with Tiffany Stenson (Infant & Early Childhood Mental Health Training Specialist) to learn more about the themes of the podcast. We also discussed why your child’s mental health and socio-emotional development is so important. The open discussion format of the podcast explores the realities and difficulties of raising and connecting with young children.
Make back-to-school time easy this year! Our readers are really smart, which is why we asked them about their very best back-to-school hacks.
Getting back into the swing of things for a new school year is no joke. It is hard. The early mornings, the bus schedule, the lunch packing, the homework, the extracurricular sports, the chalkboard first day or school photos. It can be overwhelming, which is why we turned to the most knowledgeable group of people we know to ask for tips: our readers. Here’s what they said.
#1 Start the bedtime/wake-up time school schedule a couple of weeks before school starts
This was one of the top pieces of advice from our readers. Getting up early on day 1 is zero fun in and of itself. If your kid(s) has been doing it for at least a week or so, it’s a tad bit easier.
Consider planning a couple fun outings the week prior to school starting such as going out for donuts to make the earlier rising time an adventure.
Practice lunch by packing the lunch box and setting a timer for the amount of time that your child has for lunch at school.
#2 Pick out the clothes for school for the entire week.
Multiple readers said they help their kids to lay out clothes for the whole week on Sunday or tell their teens to do so themselves. One reader even had a brilliant idea to use hanging cubbies to put clothes for each day. And this is why we ask our readers these questions.
#3 Don’t buy a brand new “back to school” wardrobe
The National Retail Federation estimates that Americans with school-age kids are spending upwards of $867 per kid on back to school supplies and clothing. That number is enormous but can be cut back without going all out for a new wardrobe for your kids. There are tons of consignment shops and sales to make use of to help get your kids a new-to-them wardrobe.
Also, consider purchasing just a couple outfits at the beginning of the school year versus an entire new wardrobe. Your kids might change their mind on what they want to wear after seeing what other kids are wearing and the colder weather is just a couple months away.
#4 Meal prep
Many of our readers noted that prepping meals ahead of time for during the week is a lifesaver when getting back into the swing of things. One mom even prepares one big meal at the beginning of the week that can feed everyone for several nights and just switches up the sides to add variety.
Anything you can prepare the night before such as packing lunches will also make leaving the house on time in the morning much easier.
Setting up a breakfast station the week before with breakfast foods ready to go can also make the morning move smoother.
#5 Take the “first day of ____ grade” pictures the day before!
As yes, the First Day of __ Grade Back to School photos. You know, the ones where you’re desperately trying to get your kid to school but then remember you want to memorialize the occasion but need a chalkboard and pen and paper and nothing else that you have right then but are already late? Yeah, those. Do them the day before school starts. Reader Kerry says, “Just chill. The chalkboard thing doesn’t have to happen; neither does posting to social media. Let them dress for comfort instead of trying to dress to impress.” Another mom said she just has her kids hold up the number of fingers to correspond to the grade they are going into.
#6 Don’t schedule any appointments that first week of school
No doctor appointments. No dentist appointments. Nothing that will give you even more stress than you’re already handling. Schedule them for a few weeks out from the first day of school if you can.
#7 Use Alexa to help you remember things you/your kids need to do
One reader said she programs her Alexa device to set reminders about things her or her kids would likely forget like when the library book is due, what day of the week her kid(s) needs to wear gym shoes or a reminder to plug in the Chromebook.
#8 Plug in that Chromebook
Be sure to plug in the Chromebook on Sunday night because going to school with a dead laptop is no fun.
#9 Keep the social life to a minimum
One mom said she has found that restricting weekend plans for the first few weeks into the school years has helped her kids to get the relaxation they need and helps them to focus on the new school year.
#10 Use your calendar to keep up with events
One mom said she plugs all of the school events into your calendar on her phone before the school years so she knows what to expect and can plan for events.
#11 Keep all school-related things in one place
Mom Stacy has this amazing idea: “I have a back-to-school binder. It has the school calendar and sections for each child for their supply lists and forms teachers send home for platforms the kids use, passwords, usernames, etc and contact lists.
Anything important that’s sent home, especially those early weeks, goes straight in the binder. The supply list stays so I can touch base with the teacher through the year on possible extra needs or send in extras that are consumed quickly.”
Looking for a teacher gift idea? It can be tricky trying to find gifts teachers love that are within your budget – especially when you are buying for multiple teachers!
What do you give your child’s favorite teacher this school year? How about that high school teacher who helped your kid get through that big math test? What about that tote bag, teacher mug, scented hand cream, or school supplies? Will one of those make a great gift?
We asked our readers for some advice. Local teachers chimed in with their favorite gifts. Whether you’re looking for a holiday gift, something for teacher appreciation week, or an end-of-the-school-year celebration gift, our readers came through with some thoughtful gifts and great ideas.
In a Hurry? Just Want to Buy Your Child’s Teacher an Awesome Gift and Skip the Reading? Choose one of these gifts, add to cart, purchase, and then cross one thing off your to-do list! YAY!
Babies are crazy expensive but there are absolutely ways to ease the burden of those expenses, which we are going to tell you about right here!
Estimates vary but experts on budgeting say the costs associated in the first year of your baby’s life could add up to thousands of dollars after you factor in co-payments, childcare, formula, clothing, cribs, diapers, etc.. Yup. But take a breath and don’t worry, there are lots of ways to cut this number down.
First, you may want to check out a calculator online to estimate expenses. This baby calculator is fun because you can choose which things you are going to pay for and what they will cost (new baby clothes the first year: $600 – ha, not with our budget list here!) and then uncheck thsoe things that you know you’re not going to be paying for and see how low you can go. This Bump calculator is a good one also that can help you to calculate what you think you may spend.
Special thanks to our readers who gave us lots of great ideas when we asked them their best baby budgeting tips!
Look at Your Insurance
If you haven’t looked at what you are going to pay for your ob/gyn visits, routine tests, and labor and delivery through your insurance, look at it now. It’s almost always under the “maternity” section. If you’re not pregnant yet, see how much you are expected to pay and start saving little by little so you’re not stuck with some huge, unexpected bill. If you are pregnant, check to make sure your doctor and hospital are covered. If you are giving birth at home or at a birthing center, call your insurance company to see if any of those costs may be covered under your plan or what can go towards your deductible.
Gradually Stock Up on Essentials
Once you find out you’re pregnant, start purchasing diapers and wipes every time you go to the grocery store/Costco/Sam’s so that you’re aren’t overwhelemed when the baby comes. You’ll be so tired and having all those diapers and wipes on hand will be a lifesaver – you won’t need to run out of the house at 1am to get diapers!
Shop Thrift Stores, Consignment Shops, and Facebook Marketplace
When I had my first baby, I was determined not to buy anything brand new. Babies grow out of clothes extraordinarly fast and you can almost find near-new clothes at thrift and consignment stores, big consignment sales, and your local Facebook mom groups like KidSift or Buy Nothing groups here in Greenville.
Also, don’t be afraid to take hand-me-downs from friends who want to give them to you. I absolutely love giving my friends and family clothes and shoes that my kids have outgrown and gladly accepted boxes of them when I was pregnant.
This goes for both clothes and baby gear. One of our readers aptly noted: “No sense spending $200 on a baby swing when you can buy the same one for a fraction.“
Use Cloth Diapers
I cloth-diapered both my kids and it was so much easier than I thought it would be, plus the patterns and diapers are adorable. These diapers aren’t from the 1800s. They are super modern, easy to clean, and can save a ton of money in the long run. One detailed analysis of cloth vs. disposables over 30 months came out with spending about $770 on cloth diapers (including the cost of washing the diapers) to over $2,300 for disposables. There are a lot of different comparisons on the cost but in the end, the cloth is almost always cheaper – and they have resale value.
The cloth diapering world can be overwhelming but don’t be intimated. Do your research, buy used, and save money!
One of our readers said this about cloth diapering: “Invest in cloth diapers. Especially if you plan to have multiples. I only had one, but I only paid $100 to diaper her for 3 years.“
Start Living on One Income
One of our readers said that her and husband started living on one income before she even became pregnant so that she could stay at home when the baby came. That’s dedication and extremely smart.
Save for Higher Education Immediately
Once your child has a Social Security Number, you can open a 529 account. South Carolina’s 529 program is called Future Scholar and it’s basically a long-term investment account where you can automatically withdraw money each month that is set aside for higher education. This is something my husband and I did immediately for our kids once they had their SSN and it’s on auto draft so we don’t have to think about it.
Even if your kids are out of the baby stage, it’s never too late to start saving for higher education since it’s so incredibly costly.
Ask for Gift Cards on Your Baby Registry
As babies grow, they need different things and if you ask for gift cards on your baby registry, it’s a great way to knock off some of those later expenses for your kid down the road.
Don’t Feel Like You Need the Fanciest Baby Gear
An UPPAbaby stroller and Mesa Infant Car Seat is currently $1,300 on Amazon and a Hot Mom Baby Stroller will run you $600. Look, your baby isn’t going to be in these strollers very long and oh my gosh, that’s a lot of money for baby gear. A Graco stroller is great – even better if you get it at the thrift store (it’s typically a good idea to buy car seats new or gently used though, just check the expiration date and make sure it wasn’t in a previous accident) – and you don’t need to spend a rent or mortgage payment on it. Don’t feel bad if you’re not that mom rockin the trendiest baby gear or expensive baby clothes.
Babies Don’t Need All the Things
Diapers, wipes, a crib or bassinet, clothes, and food are pretty much the essentials of what a baby needs. I loved my jogging strollers when my kids were little because I could get a workout in but I never used an actual stroller and preferred to use a baby carrier instead.
Baby toys, books, annoying musical play mats, baby swings, and so many other things just take up space and are useless within a few months. If you feel like you need any of these things, go the used route and see if you can find them for free or cheap.
Ask Your Friends if They are Getting Rid of Stuff
We all have too much stuff, right? If someone asked me if I had some baby clothes, strollers, crib mattresses, or literally any baby thing lying around that I wanted to get rid of, I would have jumped at the chance then. A neighbor posted in our neighborhood Facebook group that she needed a crib and I happened to have ours just sitting in a closet and was absolutely thrilled to give it to her. I got more space in my house and she got a crib – win/win!
Free Breastpumps Through Insurance
According to our government, your insurance must cover the cost of a new breastpump. Speak with your doctor and insurance provider on how to go about making this happen if you’re breastfeeding. Both my electric and manual pumps totally saved me while breastfeeding, especially when my maternity leave was up and my baby had to take milk from a bottle. Big win here for moms since breast pumps can cost you several hundred dollars.
Working out when you have kids can be a challenge but getting in exercise has so many benefits that it’s a good thing to make the effort. We’ve got lots of ideas for you on how to accomplish that goal!
I’ve always been athletic and have enjoyed working out because it makes me feel strong and healthy. The health benefits to exercise are numerous (lowers blood pressure, eases anxiety, helps with depression, etc.) but making the time to break a sweat is no easy task once kids come along. My kids are 12 and 8 now so we’ve transitioned out of some of these ideas but I’ll give you lots of suggestions for working out from when your kids are babies through high school!
Use a jogging stroller
These were my lifelines when my kids were little. I jogged everywhere with my oldest kid and then got a double stroller so I could cart around both of them when my second came along. It was easy to make time to do, a fantastic workout, and the kids seemed to be entertained. I’d usually start at the Swamp Rabbit Cafe, run for a few miles, turn around, and motivate myself with coffee and a scone when we returned.
The Bon Secours Wellness Arena also lets the public walk their concourse indoors most Tuesdays & Thursdays for free. And we have several stroller-friendly trails in the Upstate you can walk.
Get a baby carrier
Another lifesaver: my Ergo baby carrier. I used this for everything but most especially loved it for hiking. It was a great way to get in a workout while also introducing my kids to nature.
When kids are older, there are hard framed carriers you can buy (go get fitted at REI and either get it there or get it used from Facebook or consignment shops). I tried one and didn’t like it but many, many parents love these. Just be sure to get the right fit.
Involve the kids
Now that my kids are older, it’s a lot easier to get in a workout and involve them alongside me.
We love hiking, as our readers will well know! I’ve taken my kids all over the place hiking and they are such troopers (bring snacks since they make great bribes). We’ve worked up more difficult trails like Table Rock Trail and have hiked about eight miles inside the Grand Canyon but even when they were younger, we would hit up easier trails like many of these in our area that still provided a great opportunity to get moving.
Biking is another way to involve kids, especially once they are able to ride a two-wheeler on their own. We have lots of great biking trails in our area that you can utilize. And if you go to the beach for vacation, don’t forget your bikes or rent bikes there as it’s a fun way to exercise together, even on vacation!
Another way to get in some movement with your kids is to just take a walk around the neighborhood. We love this just for a quick time to get outside. If your kids are little, you can push them on their tricycle or they can use a scooter or balance bike.
I’ve recently discovered how much fun indoor rock climbing is! My kids and I have really enjoyed our local rock climbing gyms and you can even bring a little one inside while you climb and kids switch out watching him or her.
If you’re really athletic, go play baseball, basketball, soccer, or tennis. We have courts and fields all over the Upstate.
Lastly, get on the water. I love to kayak and paddleboard and my kids have gotten into it so now we do a lot of this over the summer at our local lakes. This is a great workout that can do double duty and involve swimming.
Make use of early morning hours
This is how I get in my workouts nowadays. I get up early and get in my workouts before everyone else wakes up. I found a great online workout site that I’ve been using for years where I can choose workouts that involve HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) or use my weights with a strength training workout or do a more gentle Pilates workout.
If I don’t workout in the morning, I’ll never get to it.
Find a gym with childcare
There are several gyms with childcare in our area, many of which include the service in your membership. This is a pretty good excuse to let the kids play with other littles while you get in your workout.
Join a mom workout group
There are a few mom groups in our area that get together for workouts where you can bring your kid and their stroller or go for hikes together. These are great for both exercise and meeting other moms.
Make it fun
My kids love trampoline parks so when we go, I’ll usually join them in jumping around and doing obstacles. This is absolutely a workout!
We also love roller skating so I’ll rent skates and skate along with them for a couple hours – also an amazing workout. Or if you’re headed to a local zipline or obstacle course like Flying Rabbit, join the kids while they traverse the ropes course in the air. I’m always surprised how worn out I feel afterwards.
You can definitely find things to do in our area that are fun, engaging, and can help you feel strong and be healthier so you can be there for your kids.