Why ditching my kid to go exercise makes me a better parent

September 19 | Guest post by Adrienne
Strong as a Mother Workout Tank by ResidentialApparel

If you have kids then I'm sure you are familiar with the phenomenon known as "mom guilt" — that horrible feeling you get when you try to do anything nice for yourself but can't stop constantly worrying about your kid.

Something I often get mom guilt about is leaving the house to workout. Sometimes I workout at the gym, other times its going to a yoga class, or out for a jog with my friend. But I always feel that tinge of guilt when I hug my daughter goodbye and she begs me not to go, even if it's only for an hour. I think to myself, you already left your kid to go grocery shopping alone earlier, should you really leave again for an hour to go to yoga tonight? Is she getting enough attention?

Of course I know she is perfectly happy and safe hanging out with her dad or grandparents when I'm not around. She's having a blast, but that doesn't stop the guilt.

The truth is, leaving the house to get a workout in helps make me a better parent…

It gets me out of the house

I work from home, so I am alone with no one to talk to besides my child and my dogs for most of the day. I love not having a traditional job, but it can get very lonely not having other adults to talk to, and I miss the commaradarie of co-workers in the workplace. Getting out of the house and being among other adults is a nice treat. Especially if there are no little kids around.

It gives me a mental break

If I'm in the middle of hard workout, it's hard to focus on anything else besides getting through those last few reps on the lat pull down bar, or running the last quarter of a mile. For someone like me, who has a lot of trouble turning their brain off and constantly ruminates over mundane things in their head, the ability to think about nothing but my muscles screaming at me is a welcome change. It's nice to give your brain a break sometimes.

It reduces child-imposed stress

I will be honest with you, the last year with my child has been very difficult. Anyone with a three year old will tell you how hard that age is. The tantrums and meltdowns have been so epic that there have been many, many occasions that I throw my hands up in surrender, lace up my shoes, tell my husband I am off for a jog, and literally run away. Taking a breather to get some mental clarity has saved my sanity on many, many occasions.

I have a better self image

The more I work out, the better I feel about myself. Even if there is no physical change, just knowing I am eating foods that are good for my body, and spending time moving, makes me feel great. It's important for kids to see their parents model positive body image, because as we know, kids model the behavior they are exposed to!

My mood is better

You know how the saying goes, "If momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy"… Exercise releases those wonderful feel-good endorphins. One of the fastest ways to improve your mood is to get your body moving. Kids know when their parents are in a bad mood, and it can really affect the atmosphere of the entire house. Do everybody a favor and do whatever it is you need to make yourself feel good.

So what do you do to get over the guilt?

A good start is reminding yourself about all the points above, and that you are actually doing yourself and your family a favor by making time for yourself by exercising.

Do you ever get mom-guilt about exercising? Tell me about it in the comments and let me know what you do to help yourself get over it.

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  1. For me, it's going to choir. I get out of the house, I get to socialize, I get use different part of my brain (reading music is a mental workout) and I get to create. It's also great because it shows my daughter daughter that I have my own interests and hobbies.

  2. I hear you about working from home and spending the whole day with your kid and husband around. But I still have not gotten over the guilt to go exercising even as R approaches his 4th birthday. I try alternatives: some days he's up to walking 5k around the neighborhood with me at 6:30am (everyday he's up that time), others I get moving by doing some scrubbing/raking/mowing and sometimes I run it off with him in the playground/sports arena. Oh well, will have to do for now.

  3. I just trained for and finished my goal marathon. We have a 2 year old and both work full-time, plus I travel for work. Race training was a part of my life pre-baby and has been a part of her life since she was six months old.

    Setting active goals and achieving them is an integral part of my identity. I don't feel like I could be my best self if I weren't doing that. Even if it takes some time away from her, my daughter should see me be my best self.

    We make a family thing out of our Saturday run (yes, hubby runs too). I think it helps that she understands what happens when mommy goes running.

    When I'm with my daughter, I try to focus on us doing things together (i.e. pour in the ingredients when I'm cooking, have her help cleanup, watch a movie together). Sometimes she doesn't want to join but I always try to find ways she can. This helps me feel like when we've only seen each other 30 mins that day, we've still had quality time.

    I also have a great partner that helps support my training. Without him, none of this would be possible.

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