My family can always tell when I haven’t run for a few days.
Mommy gets a little less patient. Mommy gets snippy. Even angry. Then comes the mommy guilt. It’s a vicious cycle. I’m not proud of it, but it happens.
You see, I work with 13 year olds every day in a very demanding and often thankless job.
Then I come home to my beautiful, wonderful, sweet, loving, awesome, but also demanding, 3 and 5 year olds.
And as amazingly helpful as my husband is, there is always laundry, dishes, mopping, and more to do, which takes both of us working hard from the minute we walk in the door.
If I didn’t run, I’d go crazy. I’d snap at my kids. I’d argue with my husband. And I’d feel horrible for it.
Not only would my emotional health be in jeopardy, but so would my physical health.
I have back issues dating back about 12 years.
The only thing that has kept the pain away is staying in shape with running.
Before I got serious about fitness, I couldn’t do normal, everyday activities, like picking up my baby, without worrying my back would go out.
Hear me when I say this…
You can’t let yourself get to that place, mama. The place where you can’t play with your kids because you don’t have the energy.
Or the place where you can’t pick up your kids because your body hurts. I’ve been there. It’s not fun. Talk about mommy guilt!
Instead of letting yourself get into a state of disrepair, why don’t you show your kids what it’s like to be a fit and healthy woman?
Show them how women are strong. Show them what it’s like to take care of yourself, even when it’s hard.
Better yet, get them involved! Not only will it teach them to take good care of themselves, but it will give you some quality time together while lessening your mommy guilt.
My oldest recently asked if he could run with me so we got him some new running shoes and clothes. He’s been out with me a few times. Do we run very far together? No, but we have some great discussions and I know he appreciates the time with Mommy.
I know what you’re thinking…
How can I find the energy to workout when I don’t have the energy to play with my kids at the end of the day?
Trust me, the more you work out, the more energy you will have.
You are, quite literally, conditioning your body; telling it how much energy it should have at the end of the day.
Once you get into a routine with it, you’ll find that you have more get-up-and-go than you know what to do with.
Ok, so here’s how to do it…
Let’s go through a list of things you could do to get in shape, and reduce the guilt!
1. Include Your Kids
I know we already touched on this, but it’s worth repeating.
If you are a runner, then take them running! Either train them to run or get a running stroller. Heck!
I ran with my kids in a regular stroller because I couldn’t afford a running stroller!
If you prefer lifting weights – but only if your child is small enough – lift them! It makes for a fun workout session when mommy and baby get to giggle together.
My boys love to do squats, lunges, and pushups with me.
They’re form isn’t perfect and there’s a whole lot of, “Hey Mommy! Watch this!” but that’s what makes it special. It teaches them to take good care of their body and it’s fun!
2. Learn to Work Your Schedule
You may have to get creative here!
Get up and go for a run before everyone wakes up.
Keep some dumbbells under the bed and work major muscle groups when everyone is asleep at night.
Or better yet, if you’re falling into bed at night, exhausted, make time during the day. Do yoga during nap time.
It’ll not only be quiet, but it’ll reset your patience-meter for the second half of the day.
This one is my personal favorite- work out during meals. Wait, what?
Let me explain –
My kids are exceptionally slow eaters. When they are eating, I break out some heart-pumping moves like jumping jacks, mountain climbers, and high knees.
I’ll even break out the dumbbells and get some reps in right there by the breakfast table. Once I’m done, I can eat my meal and STILL get done before my kids.
There are plenty of times throughout the day to sneak in a workout. It’s not like you have to get it all in at once.
Taking 15 minutes here and there is enough to get your heart pumping- and it all adds up!
Do you work?
I find that getting my workout in before I pick up the kids is essential.
If I wait until I get home, even if my husband is home, there will be things pulling me in a hundred different directions and I’ll never even get started. So lace up before you ever leave work and I guarantee you’ll be working out more in no time!
3. Trade Your Time
Let’s be real –
It’s not about the amount of time you spend with your kids, it’s about what you do with it.
If you spend all day with them but don’t engage, you still have the mommy guilt AND you’re not fit. What good is that??
My husband and I have recently started going on dates – with our kids.
One night (or day, it really doesn’t matter) he’ll take the boys, and I can get a massive workout in. Another night, I’ll take the boys so he can do his workout. My boys know that during that time, they will have my undivided attention.
No phones, no TV, just Mommy. Both Mommy and Daddy get time to work out, and the boys get special time with their favorite people. Win/win!
4. Make the Time You Do Have Count
If you don’t get a lot of workout time throughout the week and you have a lot of weight to lose, don’t waste your time. No, wait, that didn’t come out right!
What I mean is, don’t do 1 hour steady state runs, three times per week.
If you’re short on time, do a workout that will serve you best.
Focus on 20-30 minute HIIT workouts and weight lifting. HIIT workouts have been shown to continue burning calories long after the workout is over.
And strength training builds muscle which inherently burns more calories than fat.
Don’t get me wrong, I love running, but, unless you’re running intervals, it’s not where you want to spend your precious time.
One last thing…
Let’s talk about mommy guilt.
Don’t let taking time for yourself and your health make you feel guilty!
You have to take care of yourself in order to take care of them. If your muscles are weak and your energy is zapped, how are you supposed to be the best version you can be for your kids?
You’ve probably heard the saying, “you can’t pour from an empty cup.”
Well, running fills my cup.
Maybe running doesn’t do it for you. Maybe it’s lifting, or Zumba, or, I don’t know, goat yoga.
Whatever it is, mama, you’ve got to keep your cup full. Your family needs you to be your best, even if that means they see you 30 minutes less each day.
Now, get out there and take care of yourself, mama. You deserve it!