There's no denying that having a baby changes the dynamics of your life.
The lack of sleep—coupled with the amount of brainpower you have to use to keep this little baby going—is staggering. As a long-time distance runner, my biggest fear was that after the birth of my daughter, I'd have to give up my favorite hobby: Running.
If I sat here and told you that it was super easy to always get my run in and that nothing has changed, I'd be lying. What I can tell you is that running is more fulfilling now as a mom than it ever was before my daughter entered our world.
When you're at a place where it's OK to exercise, you're probably also in a place where you just don't want to. What little spare time you have could be spent catching up on precious hours of sleep! I've taught myself to use that time every day to get my run in.
And it's not only helped me—immensely—but I see it helping my whole family. Gasp! Even my husband.
I personally hate pushing that stroller for long sweaty runs, but I do it when it's my only option. My daughter has learned to love going for a run with Mom and Dad. This is a fantastic way to get out of the house, get some fresh air and lose that feeling of being "trapped" that we sometimes feel as moms.
When I'm not running with the stroller, I go in the late evening. It wasn't until recently that my 3-year-old started picking up on what I was doing. Any time I need to run an errand she'd say, "Bye mommy! Have fun runnin'!"
At first, it made me chuckle that she knows I love to run. But then the reality dawned on me: Though she's only three-years-old, I'm already imprinting my lifestyle on her in a big way.
I decided to use this to help make our family a little more active. My husband grew up a runner but dropped the hobby years ago. I've slowly but surely convinced him to start signing up for races like local 5Ks—and even a half-marathon last fall.
Now, whenever we get a sitter, our daughter always says, "Where you going guys? You runnin'?"
Even though we're (normally) not running, she knows that running is important to us.
The last few races we did, we decided to bring her along with us. My husband even pushes her in the jogging stroller during the race! She loves watching the runners and will even yell out to him, "Run faster daddy! We gotta pass all these people!"
Running in our house has become a staple. It's a chance for us to put down our phones, get a little sweaty and do something GOOD for our health.
Watching my daughter grow up and learn from our actions is probably one of the most rewarding parts of being a parent. We know that she's watching us—and she even asks to hop out of the stroller and run, too.
When you feel the "mom guilt" settling in when leaving the kiddo to try and get a run in or a little bit of exercise, remember: They're watching.
And someday, maybe, they'll be like mom and make their "me time" more than sitting and watching Netflix. Instead, maybe they'll go out and run!
Jackie Green, the host of Afternoons with Jackie Green on 105.3 HOT-FM, lives with her husband, Jim, and daughter, Greenleigh, in Grand Rapids. When she isn't working, she can be found running all over Grand Rapids or using her platform to help advocate for intersex youth. Connect with Jackie on Facebook at facebook.com/OnAirJackie.
Photos courtesy of Jackie Green.