Feb 1, 2023
Parents on the run!
To my BGR runners in the trenches raising young children, I see you. You’re getting kids ready for school or daycare every day, transporting them there and back, helping with homework, taking them to extracurriculars, and of course, keeping them fed, bathed, and entertained too.
It’s a lot! When do you even have time to run?
First, give yourself grace. This is the season of life where we’re rightfully focused on preparing our children to become happy, healthy and emotionally well-rounded adults. It’s normal for us to make our children a higher priority than ourselves most times.
We can’t neglect ourselves either. Children need an emotionally healthy and happy mama, and our physical health (outside of medical issues we can’t control) is very important. I know I want to be that parent who can run around with my children as long as they want me to, and I dream of us doing 5Ks together as a family. My boys are 10 and 7, and I’m proud I can still beat them in a sprint – although this might be the last year I can say that!
Mothers who want to keep running have to be a little more creative about getting those workouts in. When you can’t get a babysitter or family member to watch your kids, here are a few ideas to stay active as a busy, engaged mom.
–Make exercise a family affair. Got infants and toddlers? Put them in the stroller and push that stroller on your walk or jog.
If your little one is very little, pop him in one of those infant carriers that places the baby close to your body and just walk. I was shocked by how much pregnancy weight I lost in a short period of time doing just this. I know why now – the extra weight from the baby was weight training as well.
–Hit the parks: I admit that the “just take your kids with you” advice is easier when your kids are babies. Have you tried getting a four-year-old to walk more than a block without complaining she’s hungry/tired/cold/hot/sleepy? Yes, that same four-year-old who can go to the park and run for hours with her friends won’t be as accommodating when it’s time to walk or run with mom!
What I started to do instead was jog or walk around the park while the kids were on the play equipment or riding bikes – they were still in eyesight but I was able to move without having to attend to their needs. If you can get 15-20 minutes in, that’s great!
-Get moving during extracurricular time. Eventually, your kids will be old enough to stay after school for sports, band, drama, choir, orchestra or whatever else they like to do. If you find yourself with 20-30 spare minutes you’d normally use to sit in the car and scroll on your phone, use that time for a quick walk or jog. I arrived early for drama pickup at school one day recently, so I just did a few laps on the school track and in the neighborhood. Other parents even applauded my effort!
By the time my son was ready to go home, I’d gotten in my steps for the day, closed my Apple watch ring and felt accomplished for squeezing in an unplanned workout.
–Coach/volunteer. I signed my kids up for track and cross country, and the team needed parent volunteers. I raised my hand, and guess what? Running with the kids helped me get my exercise in as well, and my children enjoyed having mom as a “coach.” Free exercise and family time for all!
Mamas, I know it’s hard, but don’t put yourself and your fitness on the back burner until the kids get older or move out – you don’t want to start at square one 20 years later when it might feel harder to get started or have a health crisis “force” you to get your health back in order.
Your health is important. You can do it right now!
Photo Credit: Mary Taylor
By Shannon Shelton Miller /Twitter: ShannonSMWrites, Instagram: shannon.shelton1
Shannon Shelton Miller is a longtime writer and journalist who enjoys writing about sports, fitness, health, beauty, and parenting. She has been running for 27 years, starting from joining her high school cross country team. She has run a marathon, two half marathons, and countless 5K and 10K races.