Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Master of Mom Guilt

When I first started adding exercise to my daily routine, I was worried about taking time away from my family.  I had to work, make dinner, help the kids with their homework, spend time with my kids, spend time with my husband, clean, do laundry, pack lunches, pay the bills, grocery shop . . . and exercise???  How was that going to work?  I had so little time with my family as it was that I couldn't imaging squeezing in one more thing.  The simple thought of it sent waves of guilt running through me.  My solution was to add exercise in at the very end of my day. 

For Christmas my parents gave me a very attractive bright orange reflective vest with even brighter yellow stripes and I was good to go.  I would get everything done that needed to be done that day and hit the street around 11PM for my daily run.  Fortunately for me I found that exercising that late at night didn't hinder me from falling fast asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.  This arrangement was perfect - no one had any idea that I was even gone since they were all sound asleep!  Guilt-free running!

Once I began to run 5k's, I realized that I had another perfect arrangement.  More often than not, I'd get up, go run the 5k and be home before my family was even awake (Yes, I am blessed with kids who have always been excellent sleepers!).  Once again - guilt free mom-time.  Love it!

Then one day it dawned on me - my kids had absolutely NO idea how hard I was working and how much I had achieved.  They had no idea because they were sleeping through my entire journey!  One of my reasons for starting this journey was to be an example to JJ and Ellie.  I wanted them to see how when you set a goal and work hard you can do it!  I wanted them to see how exercising on a regular basis impacts your body and your mind.  I wanted them to see how exercising is fun.  Instead, they could see that I was losing weight and that I was less stressed out and grouchy (at times!), but they had no way of answering the questions of how or why. 

I started to run earlier in the evening while the kids were doing their homework or taking showers.  I started to wake them up on Saturday mornings to go with me to some of the 5k's.  I started to take a Zumba class one or two nights a week. 

Did my family automatically embrace my new love of exercise?  No.  You would not believe the whining and complaining and carrying on that occurred when I left the house.  Man - did that Mom Guilt kick-in strong!  After all, I am the Master of Mom Guilt.  And I learned from a pro - right Mom??  (Ha!Ha!)  How could I take this precious time away from my family to be so selfish and do something for me?  That just wasn't right.  So, I started to skip Zumba class and I started to not run as often and I . . . started to feel lousy and lethargic again.  Mom Guilt was paralyzing me!  My family was definitely not getting the message now!

Three things happened to help me conquer Mom Guilt when it came to my exercising:

1) I had to believe that I was a good example for my family.  I was no longer a Chubby Mama dragging herself around the block every night.  I was a success story!  I had tackled health and wellness and I was winning! My family could look at me and visibly see the physical difference in me.  I started to believe that about myself by making sure that my self-talk was positive (self-talk is a very powerful thing!) and embracing the compliments that my family and others gave me. 

2) I had to realize that by taking an hour out of my day to exercise, I was not taking away an hour from my family, but rather giving them an important gift that would last a lifetime!  I was giving my family the gift of my health - a healthy mom will be around a lot longer to torture her family than an unhealthy one!  I was giving my family the gift of their own health!  I was giving my family the gift of a more pleasant mom who had pounded a lot of her stress out on the street!  Who doesn't like to receive a gift? 

3) I beagn to include my family in my exercise.    I didn't have to run every day.  Exercise could be going outside and playing basketball with JJ.  Exercise could be going for a family walk in the woods.  I took JJ and Ellie to a Zumba class so that they could see what I was doing when I went to class.  It's nearly impossible to feel guilty when your family is sweating right next to you!  And I think that my kids are actually starting to "get it!" -  they ask to go to the gym now.  How cool is that?!?

I'm not perfect - Mom Guilt still rears her ugly head occasionally.  My family still complains at times when I head out the door or drag them with me to an early morning event (though the promise of pancakes at Kings' has helped in this situation).  But Mom Guilt no longer paralyzes me and stops me from exercising.  Mom Guilt is no longer the master of me!


  1. Well put Lisa! It is a journey isn't it? And one that indeed has so many benefits :) I had one of those epiphany moments two years ago. My mom had died, my dad had another surgery for colon cancer, my sister was divorcing her husband and she and her two kids moved in with us. I was laying in bed one night, staring at the ceiling and I told Rodger - I am going to die. I wasn't trying to be dramatic, but I needed an outlet for me! I joined our ladies fitness center and have LOVED it ever since. So yea for no mom guilt ;))

  2. Love love love that you are giving yourself the gift of TAKING CARE OF YOU!!! We can't take care of anyone if we don't take care of ourselves. Without your health you have nothing. Congratulations on your lifestyle change Lisa - I preach what you've learned every day!!! Keep it up!