Moms Who Run: How to Get Rid of “Mom Guilt”
Mother Runners are a special group of people. Some of these women work part or full time jobs, while others are on the clock at home 24/7. But they all manage to balance taking care of their children and families, running errands, keeping up with housework, juggling the hectic schedules of their little ones and significant others, maintain friendships and their own social calendars and volunteer work opportunities, all while taking some time to care for themselves through running.
Some of these women are just enjoying the half an hour to hour block of time they get to themselves when they run, even if it can only ever be squeezed in when it is pitch black outside in the cold recesses of their basement home gym on the treadmill. Others are managing to fit in serious workouts and working to balance a difficult training schedule because competitive racing is their “thing.”
But regardless of how much you run, all mothers have experienced the “Mom Guilt” of running. All mothers have heard The Voice.
What The Voice is Telling You
The Voice is constantly talking to you in the back of your head, telling you that you should never, ever take time for yourself. You shouldn’t be out running, alone or with friends, while your kids are at home (or at school, their practices or extra curricular activities, etc.) without you. It’s The Voice that reminds you that there is ALWAYS more to do (or that you could be doing) at home.
The Voice says you do not HAVE to be a runner. You could make a from-scratch breakfast for your kids every morning instead. You know they would love that! The Voice says, “Your kids miss you. Shame on you for not being available to them, emotionally, physically, mentally, etc. at every moment of every day!” And The Voice is louder when you have little ones. “You are leaving your 8 week old with a sitter so that you can run with your friends? What kind of mother are you?!”
Most of us (moms AND dads!) know The Voice all too well! Fortunately , you can quiet it! It does NOT speak truths, and you don’t have to listen to it!
Why The Voice is Wrong
First off, self care is a very real thing. Heck, mental health days are a real thing! In order to care for those around you and to do your best at work, school, and across the board, you have to be cared for. Otherwise, excessive fatigue and just feeling constantly at your wit’s end and worn out leads to forgetfulness, exhaustion, and being even less-present to those around you.
Running can be cathartic, and if it is part of how you take care of yourself, be that physically or mentally, then it is pretty much a necessity. Going without it means we suffer. Running (and exercise in general) can help us to be the best versions of ourselves. Being able to run out our frustrations, or even just to use our running time to mentally sort through and solve the world’s problems (or, at the very least, help us think about what we are going to prepare for dinner) enables us to be our best, and thus give even more of ourselves to others without feeling like we are sacrificing our sanity.
Even if you run once a day, six or seven days a week, don’t let The Voice tell you that that’s too much – especially if you are actually be to be a better mom, a better wife, and a better prioritizer and organizer of your time because of it.
A Better You
For a lot of parents, exercise starts their day. Not only is it the most convenient time for many folks, but it sets the right tone for their day. That small window of time to yourself to think through your day, plan your day’s activities, and prepare for whatever you might be facing at work or at home while you are sweating it out and working hard actually helps people to be more productive after the run is over. An organized and routine wake up call for a run often leads to a more organized and routine schedule throughout the rest of the day. And if you have children, routine and schedules are HUGE in getting everything done. So be thankful that running actually helps you “Mom” better.
It might be helpful to physically write out a list of all the things you do on a regular basis for your family, and then include some of the bigger sacrifices you have made or just some of the big stuff that wouldn’t have happened without you (i.e. birthday parties, vacations, being in the stands of concerts and sporting events, etc). Then take note of all the things that would fall to the wayside if you were to try and squeeze in a little time to yourself out on the trails. Chances are, it’s not a whole lot. And if there are a few things, there’s bound to be a way to shuffle stuff around so that everything still gets done.
Don’t be afraid to enlist the help of your spouse or friends, too! Guaranteed that the changes you have to implement in order continue (or start) running the way you want are so few that no one will even notice.
And take pride in that list! You do a heck of a lot for the people you love.