Taking time out from motherhood a few times a week to get some fresh air, clear your head and raise your heart rate can leave you with a classic dose of the dreaded ‘mummy guilt’. But try to give yourself a break – running actually makes you a better mum! Here’s how…
Being a parent to young children is a 24/7 job. There are early starts (note to toddlers: 4.30am is NOT morning); preparing meals/supervising meals/cleaning up 87 per cent of meals that are stuck to faces, clothes and furniture; nappy changes; play dates; bedtime battles; and 3am requests for that HappyLand dog that’s lodged under the front seat of the sodding car. Just 20 minutes of fresh air and exercise a few times a week is good for your soul. Remember, you need to take care of yourself, too.
You love your kids, obvs. But there are only so many tantrums/spilt sippy cups/renditions of Old Macdonald a mummy can take. So, when you get the chance, burn off that frustration in a positive way and head for a run. You’ll feel calmer, more in control and better able to deal with whatever the kids throw at you (even if it’s yogurt at your favourite jumper) on your return.
Head to your nearest parkrun (very family friendly) or join a local running group/club for motivation. Or why not see if your mummy friends from NCT/play group/pre-school want to form a running group? Running while laughing over shared experiences is great for bonding.
Getting out into the fresh air to exercise is a fabulous example to set for your children. As parents, it’s our role to encourage our kids to live healthy, positive, active lives – and there’s no better way to do this than by SHOWING them!
Fresh air and exercise are wonderful at promoting a better, more restful night’s sleep, so if you struggle to drop off, a run earlier in the day could be your perfect remedy. *This will not work if your baby/child still wakes in the night – they will give zero f*cks that you are feeling ready to lay your head on a pillow. Sorry about that.
Even if you’re not getting great sleep at night right now, a little exercise will help you feel more energised. We’re not talking a 20-mile marathon training run here, but if you can fit in a 20-minute jog, or even a brisk walk with the buggy, you’ll feel less sluggish and better able to make it through the day.
Gone are the days when you can even pee in private. A little alone time does wonders for your state of mind. So, head off the beaten track, and listen to the sound of your feet as you run and the absence of someone demanding a drink/breadstick/Haribo. Savour the peace. It’s rare. Your soul will thank you.
Motherhood is physically tough. Pushing buggies, carrying babies, giving piggyback rides, playing chase, getting down on your hands and knees to clean all manner of spillages, 200 trips up the stairs each day to retrieve the mountaineering baby (note to self: must get that stair gate up)… seriously, you will NEVER sit down. Luckily, if you run, your fitness level will mean you’ll be more able to race around after your kids. Which makes life more fun for you – and them!
If you’re able to fit running into your life, you’ll reap some great rewards – better energy, a more positive outlook and you’ll probably feel calmer as a parent. On top of that, running is a great way to tone up. All these are great confidence boosters – and a confident mum is a happier mum!
It might not feel this way, especially when you’re functioning on four hours’ sleep, but being a mother can make you a better runner, too. So many women report they feel mentally stronger after giving birth. I mean, just look at what your body has achieved! This mental strength is hugely empowering. You are amazing!