5 Ways Being a Runner Makes Me a Better Mom
1- Running teaches me perseverance
You know the phrase, “Never quit on a bad day”? In running, I always tell myself to never stop on an uphill. Running has taught me to work through the tough moments, to not quit when things get hard.
That lesson translates into parenthood pretty easily. In the moments when I want to snap, when I am totally worn down, I take some deep breaths and tell myself to just get through this one uphill moment before saying something I’ll regret later. It’s helped me be the parent I want to be for my kids–one who doesn’t erupt on them in anger.
I have found that perseverance is a learned skill–it isn’t a trait you have to be born with to possess. And long-distance running has helped me get into the habit of persevering through the tough times to get back to the good ones.
2- Running helps me to keep dreaming
When I’m running, I’m blasting my music, pushing myself to run faster, breathe deeper, and to go just a little bit further than the last run. And in my head, I’m probably imagining crossing the finish line of some big, important race. Maybe I’m even about to get the gold in the Olympics.
As silly as it is, these daydreams keep me from getting bogged down in the sometimes monotonous life of being a mom of two little ones. Running reminds me to dream. To have aspirations–big, wild ones. It reminds me that anything is possible. This isn’t only good for my mental health; it sets the example for my children that they can have big, wild dreams, too.
3- Running reminds me that good fuel is important for the body
Let’s be honest, sometimes chicken nuggets for dinner is going to happen. And my kid will be the first to tell you that Annie’s Mac n Cheese is her favorite homemade meal.
But on my runs, I can always feel it when I haven’t had enough water to drink, or enough real food the day before.
This one may be obvious, but sometimes it’s just so easy to go for the quick, easy meals. But my kids need real nutrition for their growing bodies, and running reminds me of that. It also reminds me to set the example for my kids: balance in everything, including what we eat, and nourishing our bodies is important.
4- Running makes me stronger
I am by no means a six-pack-yielding fitness guru. But running makes me physically stronger, and that is incredibly empowering. Not only do I tell myself I have a chance in a zombie apocalypse, on a more realistic note, I can lift both of my kids. I can run down the street with them. I can hike with a baby strapped to my chest.
Every time I’m holding my son and squatting down to pick up the paci that he chucked across the room for the umpteenth time that morning, I am reminded that running allows me to be physically closer to him while also doing all the things I need to do.
For me, it’s running. And I know that having the ability to run is an enormous privilege.
But it isn’t necessarily about the running itself.
For you, it might be painting, or dancing, or weight-lifting. Maybe it’s walking, cooking, gardening, or reading.
It’s that hobby that makes you feel like you. It’s time you never feel is wasted because it makes you so genuinely happy. It refuels you. It refills your cup.
And that’s not to say that motherhood doesn’t fill your cup, too. But as any caregiver can tell you, even on the best days with our children, motherhood is draining.
We don’t live in a society that makes it easy for moms to take time for themselves, but it is essential that you take time to fill your own cup. It isn’t selfish to take care of your mental health: it is paramount. And as an incredible bonus, our kids are happier when we are happier.
And that is the 5th and final way running makes me a better mom: it makes me a happier one.