My kids know I’m a runner. They know that if they wake up early (before 7) on any given morning I will most likely be running. Even my youngest (who is 2) assumes that whenever I’m gone and it’s just daddy here that “mama’s at runnin.” Deep down I know that I am setting a good example for them and I do my very best to minimize the time I run while they are awake but why do I still feel guilty sometimes?
Most of my kids get it. In fact, my oldest loves that I run and has decided that it’s her “talent” too. She’s had the Boston Marathon poster I was given at the expo proudly displayed on her door ever since I returned from Boston. She runs in a handful of local races a year and gets excited when she sets a new PR. Truly a mini version of me!
|My mini me|
However, my youngest daughter has definitely had her share of reservations when it comes to me and running. Often when she sees me in my running clothes in the morning she asks– in a panicked voice, I might add- “Did you already go running or are you going to go running?” The majority of the time I assure her, “I’ve already gone.” Then she smiles and relaxes- and usually asks me to make pancakes! She loves me being home. If for some reason I haven’t gone yet (this happens more in the summer or when J doesn’t have to go in as early) she asks “How many miles are you going? Can I come?” She definitely knows how to pull on my heart strings.
|The infamous first day of kindergarten picture…|
Yes, this is the same child who has had a bit of a time adjusting to being in school now that kindergarten has started. I am happy to report she is doing better and we’re going on a full week of no tears! She’s just my little girl. She doesn’t mean to make me feel guilty. But nevertheless I do because I don’t want to let her down.
I want my children to see me value health and fitness. I really do. I love when they are able to come to one of my races. Hearing them cheer means more to me than they’ll ever know. I want them to see the importance of hard work and dedication. But more than that I want them to know that they are loved. I want them to know they mean more to me than any job or hobby I could ever have. So I find myself trying to balance the two. It isn’t always easy.
So imagine my surprise last week when my little Anna told me what she did in PE. The kids were running around the gym playing some game and she said she ran a few extra laps so she could be like me. When I heard this I was actually driving the kids home from school and I immediately teared up. Of all my kids she’s the one I thought liked me running the least. I was completely caught off guard when I heard her say she “wanted to be a runner like mama.” It’s no wonder when the older two wanted to run in the one mile race this past weekend that she decided to jump in and run too.
|Anna & Abi at the starting line of the one mile race amongst all older girls!|
|Her first race…|
I wish I could offer “5 easy steps” to handling exercise mommy guilt but I’m here to say there is no set answer. The bottom line is that we love our kids and want the best for them. As parents, we also need to exercise and be health conscience so we can take care of our bodies and be around for our kids- and someday grand kids! Setting a good example for them is just one of the many benefits of living a healthy life. It may or may not mean much to them now but they are watching us and we are making a lasting impression. The older my kids get the more I realize how many of our habits (good or bad) they’ve picked up from John or myself.
As a mom who also happens to be a competitive runner I do my best to make the most of my workout time and be productive. Usually this means running before the kids are even up in the morning. I am more motivated now to do this than I was a few years ago. I remember having 3 kids ages 3 and under and there was NO WAY I was going to wake up at zero-dark thirty to run or workout. It just wasn’t realistic. I still ran but I had different goals and expectations. A simple 3 mile jog took less than 30 minutes which is a lot easier to “squeeze in” during a busy day. Right now every run/ workout takes at least 1-2 hours and if it’s a long run a little more. At one time (years ago) I would push them in our double jogging stroller but as they’ve grown and as we’ve had more kids it’s just not an option anymore. Besides, I’m not a huge fan of jogging strollers. I would much rather get up earlier to go on my own than push multiple kids around while I’m trying to run. But I know this works for many moms and if you enjoy it- go with it!
Find a system that works and stay with it! Know that your kids are watching and do your best to set a good example. When you make a mistake- admit it. Involve them in your sport when you can but also allow some time for you to be alone. Some days- usually most days– I find that I am with kids all day long except for the wee hours in the morning when I’m running or when we finally get them all to bed at night. I’m not complaining. I love being a stay at home mom and I’m extremely thankful that I can be here with my kids. But it’s a non stop day full of giving and care taking. Making time to take care for yourself is important too.
It’s not always easy trying to keep the balance but as a mom- it’s what we do! Hearing my daughter tell me that she wanted to be a runner like me someday was just about the sweetest thing she’s ever said to me. I think it’s right up there with hearing her say “mama” for the first time or “I wuv you” in my book.
|After a run around the block- she was so proud she went one mile|
My advice- just do the best you can with where you are right now. Make the most of it and be content with whatever phase of life you are in right now. (I know- easier said than done!) I am surrounded by all these little people right now but I know that I’ll blink and they will be all grown up so I’m just taking it one day at a time.
If you have children, how do you find the balance?