Prior to becoming a daily gym-goer I thought to myself, “Those fit moms… they must neglect their children for the sake of yoga. They must love free weights more than playing with their kids. There’s no way they could put that much effort into their workouts and still have their families as their top priority.” Maybe not quite as harsh of thoughts, but I certainly had ideas about the guilt moms should/must carry around if they had made a commitment to fitness.
As motherhood often does, I have found myself trashing my old ideas and eating my words. About a year ago, I started some weight-training because of my beefy meathead husband. I thought I was humoring him by working out together until I realized I was actually enjoying our workouts more than I had ever intended. Before I knew it, I was hitting the gym without him, and finding my own training ideas online. On a perfect week, I drag my kids to the gym first thing in the morning Monday-Friday and stay for about an hour each day. And guess what?! I have NOT ONE SHRED of guilt.
And here’s why:
I am an example to my kids.
Somewhere along the way, we women got the idea in our heads that in order to be a “good mom” we must abandon ourselves and sacrifice everything we have ever felt joy in outside of family. “Good moms” don’t have hobbies, or friends, or nights out! “Good moms” find their identity solely in their wife/mom role and need nothing else. C’mon ladies!!! We have got to stop this nonsense!!
We are amazing women who have been awesome and interesting long before our littles came into our world. They can shift everything around but there is no reason to abandon activities that you love or the things that are a stress relief for you. I want my kids to love themselves and make time for the things they enjoy when they have a family one day, so I must lead by example.
I value my physical health.
Let’s get real, parenting is freaking exhausting. But amazingly, when I started hitting the gym on a regular basis my energy began to increase. I didn’t find myself in a lull around 3 pm everyday. I didn’t get winded chasing my kids around the park. I felt better than ever before and I saw the effect that had on my kids. They were overjoyed to have a mom who could keep up and who felt good! I’ve had a blast showing them various exercises and explaining why it’s important to our health, and I hope one day they will find something active that brings them joy as well.
I value my mental health.
Stress. It’s a PROBLEM. Our days are so overloaded with commitments and schedules, and I am the first to admit I jam-pack my calendar. But here’s what I noticed: my commitments would be fulfilled, but what would suffer was my mental health. My mind was all over the place! And I would be snippy and impatient with my kids because I couldn’t give my brain a break.
Now when I get to the gym every morning I know that I get to unplug. I can relax my mind and let the endorphins flow. Once I have exerted that nervous energy, I am able to tackle the rest of my day with clarity. I can focus better throughout the day, I have more patience, and overall I feel refreshed even on a busy day.
It’s only an hour.
Rarely do I workout more than 60 minutes. Not that there is anything wrong with a long workout, I just know that my kids are ticking time bombs, especially the saucy small one…she has been known to turn up the ornery when she’s been left for too long. The kids know about how long it takes for my workout to be over, so I try to be consistent. But if I wasn’t at the gym for an hour I would probably come up with some other activity that would waste time for an hour so I feel like it is a productive use of time.
My kids love going to the gym.
When my husband talked me into joining the gym he made sure to include the childcare as a selling point. Because we go to a smaller neighborhood gym, we have just a few childcare workers a week, so we get to know them really well! In fact, we have become good friends with several. And because we try to go around the same time every day, the kids have other friends that come at the same time every day and they really look forward to the standing play date. My mind is at ease knowing they are having a great time too.
If you’re wanting to try something active but the mom-guilt has been eating at your brain, I hope you find some solace here. There are so many great gyms and programs available to either babysit your kids while you exercise or even incorporate your kids into your workout! Don’t be afraid to try something new and make time for yourself. Get it, girl.