striking a balance

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I’ve been contemplating this post for a long time and haven’t sat down to write it because I am not sure I can do it in a way where I won’t offend someone. I try to keep posts pretty uncontroversial, but I’ve seen a lot on social medial in the past few weeks that prompted me to just sit and write it. Keeping that in mind, I suppose I will just preface this by saying these thoughts are my own and in no way intended to shame anyone. This post centers on moms and their desire to take time out of their family routine to work out. This is one of those subjects where you are either damned if you do or damned if you don’t. If you don’t work out, you are deemed lazy and setting a bad example for your kids. If you do work out, you are narcissistic and choosing yourself over your kids. Seriously, we just can’t win! I mean, it’s unfortunate that fat shaming and slut shaming are becoming commonplace, and I feel that mom shaming falls into the same category. And I think that the worst shamers of moms are OTHER moms!

I fall into the moms-who-work-out category and have taken some heat for it. “Real moms put their kids before themselves.” is the gist of it. I’ve heard comments made about me being selfish for taking time away from my family to run or train for a race. And I guess at the very core of it, it is true. I am, at those moments, choosing myself over the kids and their activities, and that can be viewed as selfish. Why would anyone who calls herself a good mom put herself before her kids? Because, in my opinion, every now and then we need to for our own health and sanity. I believe that a healthy mom is a happy mom, and a happy mom makes for a happy family. I don’t mean healthy in the sense that we all look like Barbie dolls. What I mean is we are healthy enough where we are able to play with our children in the park without having to sit down from being too tired. Healthy enough where the stresses of work, bills, family circumstances, etc. don’t negatively affect our parenting. Healthy enough where are can be the best version of ourselves for our children. In order for me to be the best mom I can be, I need that time to myself to run and work out. That is what makes me healthy and grounds me.

While I feel the need to run and take that time for myself, I understand that there is a balance. Some weeks I am better at balancing than others. Some weeks I fail miserably. To help keep a better balance, I try to combine a park outing for the kids with my training. We are fortunate enough to have a park near our house, so while they are playing on the playground or ball fields, I am running around the path. I have also gotten the kids to embrace running, and it is something we can do as a family. I feel more accomplished when I finish a run with them than I do when I crush a training run. Although we utilize the childcare at the gym, I try to not do it more than once a week, and that is a lot easier now with the weather getting warmer. I kind of bribe them, too. On Saturdays, my gym holds a kids’ fitness class, and they love it! My bribe is if they let me get a run in, I will do the fitness class with them. It’s a win-win, and we are all having fun.

It’s my hope that in the upcoming years, my kids will look back and see that I am trying to set a good example for them with respect to fitness and physical activity. Instead of thinking that time was taken away from them, I want them to remember the times we played together at the park, the silly dances at the fitness classes, the 5Ks we ran as a family, and how mom tried to instill the importance of remaining active. I feel I am leading by example and practicing what I preach. How hypocritical would it be for me to tell my kids to be active and play outside or participate in individual and team sports if I turn around and sit on the couch watching a Real Housewives of New York marathon? It’s so much easier for them to grow up with healthy habits than to change them in the future. And as for running, I fully intend to continue as long as my body lets me. I would love to complete a long distance race with one of my children or accompany my grandchildren on their first 5K. The possibilities are exciting and help drive me.

So I will leave you with this. It’s one of my favorites that I’ve seen floating around the internet.

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2 responses »

  1. Here is another school of thought: Our generation does more stuff with our children than any previous generation. My mother was NOT a sit-and-play-with-her-kids mom. She turned us loose outside or in our bedroom to play. If we were bored, we wouldn’t ask her to play with us because that wouldn’t have been fun either. You know what line is coming next: and I turned out ok. I’m independent and relatively normal.

    Somewhere there has to be a happy medium when it comes to time spent with kids, and that will be different for everyone. I played with my kids when they were little, and now I’m considering turning them loose into the wild to see if maybe a she-bear will raise them for a while. I take time for my personal fitness, but a lot of that time is when they are already asleep. It won’t always be that way. I wouldn’t mind if they chose to run with me, but I definitely wouldn’t allow that for every run since I really value my alone-time.

    What I am saying is that nobody should make a mom feel guilty for taking time for herself, and kids don’t need us completely involved with them 24/7 . Happy medium.

    Good post. Lots of food for thought.

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