Yesterday was a beautiful day here in Christchurch, and I couldn’t think of a better way to get out and enjoy the sunshine than to go for a run on the hills near my house.
I phoned my friend, who is a mother to two adorable wee tots, to see if she wanted to join me. I knew I was chancing my arm, and that being spontaneous is a lot easier for my childless self, but wanted to ask her anyway.
And boy was I surprised at the answer I got!
I half expected her to say “sorry Em, I’ve got family stuff on today, I’d love to do a run with you but I just don’t see it happening”.
What she said instead was: “Sorry Em, I’ve already been! I went at 6:30 this morning, I considered messaging you last night to see if you’d want to join me, but figured it was too short notice. How about next week instead?”
Man was I impressed! This was a Sunday. And it got me thinking and wondering. Just how do all those parents out there balance running with family commitments?
Since this is obviously an area I have no experience in myself, I rang around all my mother-runner friends and came up with some great tips for you if you’re wondering how to get the balance right.
Top tips from real parents
Tips for any age
– Don’t feel guilty about wanting to run by yourself. This can be precious time to recharge your batteries, making you much more useful to everyone else anyway.
– It won’t always be easy. In fact, sometimes it will seem impossible to find time for your run. But if it is something you really want to do, you will find the time.
-Do you go to work? Fit a run into your working day with minimal disruption to family time. Things that work for my friends are:
- run/commute. Either run to work, or if it’s too far, drive part way and run the rest.
- run at lunch. You may need to negotiate a longer break for this with your boss though. Perhaps you could go in 20 minutes earlier or so, and have 20 minutes extra for your lunch. This will be beneficial for your boss because you’ll actually be more efficient across the afternoon if you exercise at lunch.
Tips for when your kids are smaller
1. Get up early and go
– If you have a partner or there is some other responsible adult in the house, get up early and go for your run before they get up. They can deal with any meltdowns while you’re gone, and you can return fresh and ready to face the day.
– If you don’t have someone who can watch your sleeping child, you could consider hiring or purchasing a treadmill, so you can get your run in without leaving the house.
Getting up early and getting the run done before the distractions of the day take over was the resounding common theme my friends told me.
Of course, there is the issue of small children not sleeping through the night, which often means you’re up all through the night too, and getting up early for a run might be the last thing on your mind. Never fear, I’ve got more pearls of mommy wisdom for you.
2. Take your baby out with you
– Early morning not for you? Invest in a decent stroller and you can run while pushing your baby. You’ll get a tougher workout and they will love the rocking motion.
3. Run when your kids go to sleep for the night
– This might work better if you just can’t face the mornings. However, you’ll need to take more safety precautions (learn more here) so again a treadmill could be a good idea.
4. I’m not trying to sell you a treadmill, but here’s one more thing:
– If you have one, why not get a few minutes in between your baby’s naps? You could easily clock up a half hour run across the day using this method.
Tips for older kids
1. Take them with you
– Perhaps they can ride their bikes or scooters alongside you as you run. You’ll be fostering a love of exercise, spending time with your kids, and getting your run done. Triple win.
2. Run between your kids activities
– Sam’s got soccer after school? No problem! Change into your running gear, drop him off, and run while you wait for him to finish.
– Lucy has swimming? Again, no problem! Run while she’s having her lesson. Heck, you could probably even use the showers at the pool so you arrive home fresh for the evening. Super effficient.
So there you have it, all my friends’ pearls of wisdom for keeping up their running without having to sacrifice any family time.
Do you have any other tips to share, or a story of how you manage this ongoing juggle? Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.
Your running buddy,
image 1 by BK, CC 2.0, https://flic.kr/p/nkrTBD, image 2 by Alvert Barnes, CC 2.0, https://flic.kr/p/nBKztU