Tag Archives: stress relief

7 reasons running is the perfect me-time for parents

*Originally featured on The Running Bug*

If you’re a parent to small children, you don’t need to be told caring for them is damn hard work. In fact, what with keeping them happy (OK, happy-ish – no one expects a threenager to get through the day meltdown-free) on top of actually keeping them alive, it can feel like a 24/7 job.

However, if you can manage to carve out just a little me-time each week, it will be good for your soul – and your sanity. Here’s why it’s a great idea to spend that time running…

running-me-time

1. The silence

Aah, silence. Remember that? Probably not, actually, as once you have children you spend the majority of your days negotiating crying newborns, screaming toddlers, little people banging things, breaking things or hitting things (or each other), all while listening to a high-pitched voice demanding “Look at me Mummy! Look, look, LOOK MUMMY, LOOK NOW MUMMY!” Peaceful it is not.

But never fear – you can get back to The Quiet. When you get the chance, slip on your trainers and find your nearest woodland trail, park or peaceful running route. This will give you the headspace you need to focus, leaving you calmer and more able to face the music (AKA a toddler banging a metal tin with a spoon while belting out a dubious rendition ofTwinkle Twinkle Little Star) on your return.

2. You get to lead by example

The World Health Organisation deems childhood obesity as a serious global health challenge, and recent statistics suggest 19.1 per cent of 10 to 11-year-olds in England are obese. What’s more, the fact that more and more children spend their time indoors in front of screens rather than outside playing is damaging their mental health.

But as a parent who runs, you are already helping to change this worrying trend. After all, what’s better than leading by example? If you’re outdoorsy and lead an active lifestyle, it’s only natural your kids will follow suit. So, let them see you sweaty and happy after a run – and then feel the glow of parental pride as they beg you to sign them up for the kids’ dash at your next event.

3. It’s baggage free

When you get the chance to run, you also get to leave your responsibilities at the front door. No demands for Peppa sodding Pig on repeat. No tantrums about a broken rice cake to soothe away. No-one clinging to your leg (hopefully).

Once you are outside, it’s all about you, the open road and what you would like to achieve for yourself – whether it’s your first 20-minute walk/run or a 40-minute threshold session. Even if it doesn’t go quite to plan, a bad run is better than no run. This is your time. Enjoy it.

4. It’s ideal stress relief

Running is one of the best forms of stress relief there is. It helps with focus, clarity and purpose, and what’s more, it kick-starts your body into producing mood-boosting endorphins. Whatever the kids are throwing at you (yes, even mushed-up Weetabix), we guarantee you’ll be able to handle it if regular running is on your agenda.

Better yet, as long as you have the childcare in place, you can run first thing in the morning if you so wish. (Because let’s be honest, while the kids might drive us to it, it’s not really socially acceptable to crack open the gin at 7am.)

5. You’ll be fit for parenthood (literally)

Being a parent is a physically demanding role (and we’re not just talking about the very physically demanding role of pushing an actual person out of your nether regions here). Bringing up children entails a rather enormous amount of rocking, carrying, playing, chasing, cleaning and lifting.

If you decide to turn your me-time into run time, you’ll be one step ahead of the game, because being physically fit is a huge advantage when it comes to raising children. And if you’re able to join in their games, you’ll be making life more fun for them, too.

6. It’s convenient

Let’s be honest, time is precious these days. If you’re a runner, there’s no time lost driving to a gym/pool/fitness class. If you’re lucky to get even 20 minutes to yourself a few times a week, using those minutes to run is the best way to guarantee you make the most of every single second.

7. It’s free

Wow, who knew kids could be so expensive? From nursery furniture and a travel system (yes, that’s really a thing), to clothes, shoes, school wear and simply the rather obscene amount of plastic crap they accumulate (I last saw my living room floor in 2013), having a child equals waving goodbye to your disposable cash. Good job your chosen me-time is cheap, then. No expensive spa days or therapy sessions – heading out of the front door in your running shoes is your therapy. Enjoy!

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*Originally featured on The Running Bug*

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Highs and lows

Motherhood is both wonderful and a little bit shit.

It is often both of these during the course of a single day.

It is sometimes both of these within the space of a minute.

Occasionally, both the wonderful and shit bits of motherhood occur simultaneously ­– cue the baby eating her fish pie beautifully, while the three-year-old rolls around on the floor in a fit of rage because “it’s NOT POTATO-Y!” (It was.)

The wonderful bits make you feel like you are nailing parenting (child eats home-cooked dinner? Check. Child sits happily doing arts and crafts? Check).

The shit bits make you curse the fact you jinxed everything by thinking you were nailing it. (Why? WHY would you even think that??)

The wonderful bits make you feel like Supermum – the telly is off, all the crappy plastic toys are away and you’re about to go for a walk in the woods together. You will probably skip. You might even build a den. Fun!

The shit bits are infuriating to the point of driving you slowly insane…

Me: “Sweetheart, you can’t wear your sandals in the woods – you’ll get stones in your shoes.”
Three-year-old: “I WANT TO WEAR SANDALS.”
Me: “But stones will get in them – it will hurt.”
Three-year-old: “But I WANT them.”
Me: “But your feet will get hurt. Look, let’s put your trainers on.”
Three-year-old: “I WANT my SANDALS and I HATE YOU!”
Me: “OK, wear your sandals.”
Three-year-old [hurling himself to the ground 22 seconds into our woodland walk]: “There’s a stone! A stone in my shoe! I WANNA GO HOME!”

We all have our own ways of dealing with the shit bits of motherhood. I go running. OK, OK, I drink wine. But also, I go running (not while drinking wine).

Because running is alone time.

Running is cathartic.

Running is me and a trail and cool evening air.

Running is empowerment.

Running is that little piece of me before children.

And yes, running can also be aching legs and breathlessness and that painful stitch you just can’t shift (because, you know, sometimes running is a little bit shit, too).

And it’s those days when running is a little bit shit that it hits me: even on the tough days, I always come back to it. I come back to it because I know the wonderful bits outweigh the shit bits.

Running gives me perspective. It gives me the headspace to know that all those wonderful bits of motherhood – the smiles and cuddles and belly laughs; the boy telling me, “I really really really REALLY love you”; the baby’s warm milky breath on my shoulder at night – outweigh all the shit bits.

They outweigh them by a million miles.

Cuddles

Motherhood: it’s not all bad.

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