Moms RUN San Jose

For Moms who run, by Moms who run…Moms RUN this Town!

No Mommy Guilt Running Trick #1

on July 15, 2012

or “How to get your run in without thinking that you are squandering precious time with your little one(s) by doing something for yourself.”

After I had my older daughter, I always felt guilty leaving her to go for a run.  Usually my Honey would come home from work and we would do the “pass off” and I would leave them to deal with dinner, bath, reading stories and going to bed, while I would spend two hours running.  Two agonizing hours where I tried not to think about anything kid-related because isn’t this supposed to be “my time”?  Why would I spend “my time” thinking about my family?

I’ve come to realize, four years and another baby later, that because I am a mom, that “my time” includes my family – not necessarily always physically, but that they will always be there mentally and emotionally.  “Mom” is part of my identity and to separate it from other parts of my identity like, “woman, wife, worker, friend, runner, daughter” is not really doable. So, what I really needed to do was to find a way to distinguish between the physical separation versus the emotional/mental one.  I needed to find a way to not feel guilty about being physically apart from my family to attend to my physical needs because I was still “there” for them in that emotional/mental way.

Enter the “Running Family Playdate”!  Not only does it lead to a guilt-free run for you, but making exercise a fun, family event has many great benefits.  When your kids see you exercise, you are modeling healthy behavior which is key in helping your children begin and maintain an active lifestyle as well (see this article from Healthychildren.org).

For the “Running Family Playdate” you will need:

1) Another family to join you for the playdate. Ideally, it will be a family who has kids who like playing with your kids (and vice versa).  Bonus if the significant others get along as well!

* I’ve also used the Running Family Playdate to introduce significant others to each other, that way the Honeys know who their wives are running with and can commiserate with their counter-part about how much time their wives spend running.  When you spend hours with another woman (and her kids), sometimes, the Honeys get curious…and jealous!

2) Meet at a park or someplace that has a good running trail and something to do for the kids.

3) If your kids and SOs like running, then great – you can all run together! If not, the SOs can play with the kids while you go for your GUILT-FREE run!!

I think the guilt, for me, came because I was leaving the kids with my Honey and they were doing something I felt I should be the one doing.  Yes, even after all this time and feminism and all that other stuff – I still feel like I should be at home with the kids instead of doing something for myself that I know I need to do.  Hence – The Guilt.  This is also different than if my Honey takes the kids somewhere fun while I go running.  My Honey still tells his friends, he’s “babysitting” the kids and taking them to a museum.  While in my head, I know (and I hope he knows) that it isn’t “babysitting” when it’s your own kids, still that feeling is there, that they are doing something that I should be there doing with them.  Hence – The Guilt.

But running while your kids and Honey are on a family playdate, that’s different – they’re having fun with other people while you’re having fun with other people who also happen to be a family.  And you’re doing it all together – it’s just that for a while,  you’re not physically together but you’re still close by.  Hence – No Guilt!

I know there are some moms out there who don’t feel any guilt at all about leaving their families to go out for a run or to workout.  Bravo to these women who have learned how to do this!! And I do believe it is a skill that can be acquired.  But for this immigrant Catholic Filipina, running without guilt has been a process of re-thinking and re-evaluation that I am still in the middle of.  So whatever mental/emotional gymnastics I have to go through to feel good about my run while I am running, I am going to do.  Plus, I’m hoping that the extra mental/emotional workout burns extra calories!

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