Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Running and Motherhood

This was supposed to be a Mother's Day post, but I was seriously lacking motivation to do anything on Sunday.

I know a lot of people that say they want to run but they just can't because of their kids. Either the kids are too busy or they feel guilty, or they can't find a babysitter or whatever. I think a lot of these women are just making excuses, but a lot of them probably truly can't find a way to make it happen. I think the overwhelming reason more women don't take up something like running is guilt. They think it's not ok to take time for themselves when they could be spending all of their free time with their kids. I personally think I'm a better mother because I'm a runner. I'm happier, less stressed and in better shape. On Sunday Ryan asked me to play catch with him. That turned into me wearing catchers gear while he pitched to me. For the record, it was scary. He throws hard. Also, I looked stupid. But you know what? Ryan was happy, so it was worth it. Three years ago I wouldn't have even played catch with him, let alone actually catching while he pitches. First, I wouldn't have wanted to. I was out of shape and stuff like that wasn't in the least bit fun. Second, I probably wouldn't have been able to. Getting up and down out of a catchers stance isn't the easiest thing I've ever done. Because I'm in good shape I can do these things.

There have been times since I started running that I have missed an activity the boys were participating in because I was running. I may have registered for a race and then they had a game rescheduled for that day. I don't feel guilty about doing that. I would and should feel bad if I missed every football game to go to a race, but one or two isn't going to hurt anyone. My kids don't need me to be with them all the time and I certainly don't need to be with them all the time. We are all much happier if we spend time apart occasionally.

I thought I would share how I'm able to make running work while also being a Mom. Hopefully someone gets some good tips.

1. Run really early or really late. Go before the kids get up or after they go to bed. Dark? Get a headlamp. Yes, I've done it. Did I look stupid with the headlamp on? Absolutely. Do I run while everyone else is still snuggled in their beds? Yes I do. Do I enjoy doing that? No, I don't. I hate running early. HATE IT! But wanting to run is more overwhelming than my desire to turn off the alarm, so I do it. And you feel amazing after a morning run! Plus, I hate to undo all of that hard work by eating junk all day so I tend to eat better if I run in the morning.

2. Take them with you. Babies and toddlers can go in a jogging stroller. Older kids can run with you or ride a bike. My kids are too old for the stroller, but they have both ran with me and they both ride their bikes with me sometimes. Well, more like chase me on their bikes. I like to take Ryan with me when I need to run faster. He runs faster than me so I have to go faster to keep up. If he rides his bike he has brought along a stopwatch and tells me to speed up if I need to. Funny kid. Adam will ride circles around me asking "can't you go any faster? I'm really ready to go home."

3. Get a babysitter. If you have someone that will watch them for 30 minutes while you run, great. If not, try to find someone. If you can afford it, pay someone. There is no shame in paying a babysitter to exercise. People do it at the gym all the time. Why not for running? Even better, find another mom that wants to start exercising and trade. You work out for an hour while she watches the kids and then you switch.

4. Take advantage of their activities. Your daughter has softball practice? Drop her off, run, come back and pick her up. Dance class? Piano lessons? I'm sure in some cases you need to stay for those things but not always. I get in a lot of walks or runs while my kids are busy doing their own thing.

I've been very blessed that I can almost always make a run work. I have older kids and that helps tremendously. I also have a great family that will watch my kids if I need them too. My husband is very supportive and so are his parents. I also have a really great work schedule that allows me to run in the morning after the kids go to school and before I start working. Also, I get off before the kids get home so I can squeeze in a run then when I need to.

You know what? Sometimes I disappoint my kids. They want me to do something with them and I run instead. I wouldn't ever miss anything big, but I know that I can push Adam in the swing after I get home from a run. It won't kill him to wait for me. I also show up to places sweaty and in running clothes sometimes. Adam doesn't care about that, but I think it embarrasses Rick and Ryan to no end. Especially when I'm wearing tights. (Waterboy, are you reading this? No tights in Safeway!!)

My point is, where there is a will there is a way. I know some people will argue that point. That's ok. I'm sure there are people who just cannot make it work. More often people use kids as an excuse. For a long time I thought I should feel guilty about running. I thought something was wrong with me because I didn't. I bet there are people who look at me and the time I spend away from my family and do think I'm selfish and a bad mother. Those people can kiss my butt.

Happy Mother's Day to all of you wonderful ladies out there, whether you run or not!



  1. I run late! Like really late, I wear the headlight I look stupid. But I run for me and my sanity. If I didn't run I would stress out and yell. Then I would be a bad mom. Running makes me a better mom... it makes me a better me. I'm so glad you share your running because it really helped me.

  2. I'm so glad you are enjoying running! We need to run together sometime, though I think you are probably faster than me!