The first weeks, months and even years after having a baby are game changers. As many soon-to-be moms prepare for parenthood, they anticipate all of the extra free time they’ll have while on maternity leave. Of course, every new mom who has crossed that threshold understands the slap of reality that comes with caring for an infant. All of that ‘free’ time is filled with feeding the baby, cleaning the baby, getting the baby to sleep, holding the baby, showering every threeish days when you find a free minute and sleeping whenever the baby will allow it.
Then, as soon as you establish a livable pattern, the baby enters a new growth stage and explodes that pattern to pieces. For those who extend beyond one child, let’s not even get started on the chaos that comes with baby #2, #3 and beyond.
Considering all of that chaos, tiredness, and confusion, it’s understandable why many new moms shelve their own needs and goals. But, the thing is, if you leave your needs on the shelf for too long, they become dusty and forgotten.
Although it might be difficult at first, include space for yourself in the list of household priorities. Whether you want to get back to running or you aspire to start running for the first time, here are some useful running tips for new moms to help you succeed with your important goal of reserving time for self-care.
Running Tip #1: Make Your Needs a Priority
If you don’t intentionally reserve time for yourself within your household’s schedule, it won’t happen. It’s easy to let the wants and needs of everyone else in the family take priority. Putting everyone else’s needs first can also create an easy excuse for choosing not to pursue your personal goals.
Ultra-Runner Angela Herrboldt put it best in our interview with her when she said:
“Carve out the time for your goals. You schedule dentist appointments. You schedule playdates for your kids. Don’t be scared to make the time for you whether your goal is to run a 5k, a marathon or something else. Don’t shortcut your own needs.”Angela Herrboldt
One of the most important running tips for new moms that we can share is to talk with your partner about your running goals and why they’re important to you. Doing so can help ensure you have a cheerleader for pursuing your aspirations. It may also be helpful to sit down together before the start of each week and sketch out the week’s household schedule to ensure you’re both on the same page.
Running Tip #2: Ditch the Mom Guilt
Mom guilt is a thing, but it shouldn’t be. As soon as you learn to make time for self-care in your schedule, the next thing you’ll likely have to battle is mom guilt.
As a new mom, you may begin to experience mom guilt in a variety of ways. It can tag along when you leave the house alone for the first time after having a baby. It may show itself when you’re frustrated and crying in the middle of the night while your little one won’t sleep. Want to train for a 5k, half marathon or more while juggling the demands of motherhood? Mom guilt will most likely be there, scowling at you from the sidelines.
Although mom guilt may manifest itself in many ways, it will only hold the power that you choose to give it. Don’t let it stand between you and the goals that you want to achieve. Your baby’s childhood should be filled with memories of you achieving your goals, not always putting them on the sideline. Take this most important of running tips to heart and ditch the mom guilt.
Running Tip #3: Be Flexible
Adopting a flexible schedule is one of the best approaches you can take as a new mom. If one thing is for certain in parenthood, it’s that most days (and nights) will be unpredictable. One day your baby will take a three-hour nap and the next day’s nap will only last 30 minutes. Your little one may keep you up most nights for weeks and then suddenly start sleeping for eight-hour stretches.
With all that unpredictability, you must include flexibility in your running training schedule. Most mom runners say that they maintain the best running schedule when they rise and run early rather than waiting until later in the day to run. However, there will be mornings when you must choose sleep over running because the baby kept you up all night. On those days, grab the running stroller and take your little one along for the run, hit the treadmill at naptime, or reschedule your running session for another day. Again, one of the best running tips for new moms is to be flexible.
Running Tip #4: Give Yourself Some Grace
While making time for your goals is important, don’t be too hard on yourself. Along with adopting a flexible training schedule, give yourself some grace as you settle into the demands of motherhood. The world won’t end if you miss a training run and don’t be disheartened if returning to your pre-baby running pace takes longer than anticipated.
Runner and coach Stephanie Harboe shared a great perspective on accepting every stage of your journey as a runner in our interview with her:
“It’s important for mothers to understand and accept that you have different running lives. You have a running life before kids and another after childbirth. You have a running life when they are in preschool and then it changes when they go to school. It’s constantly adapting.”Stephanie Harboe
The first few years of motherhood can be very difficult and feel never-ending. Be easy on yourself, enjoy the time as much as you can, and know that you will get through it.
Running Tip #5: Accept Help
Accepting help can be difficult as a new mom, especially in the first few months when your baby wants you and only you. However, asking for and accepting help is essential for your sanity during these trying years. Accepting help is also a crucial part of making time for your goals. If you’re struggling to accept or ask for help, start slow. Do what is within your comfort level. When help from others isn’t readily available, minimize your obligations to include time for running within the week’s schedule. For example, rather than completing household chores every day while the baby is sleeping, run on the treadmill for a few of the days. When weighed against the mental and health benefits of self-care, chores can absolutely wait.
Many conveniences are also now available to help free up more time each day. Rather than spending a few hours grocery shopping at a store, order your groceries online and either have them delivered or use curbside pick-up. Do anything you can do to simplify life during this hectic stage.
Invest in a Running Stroller and/or Treadmill
A running stroller can quickly become your best running friend as a new mom. Finding time to leave the house and run alone can be difficult when your kids are young. Maintain your training schedule by investing in a good running stroller and bringing your little one along for the running journey. Running with a baby can also be a great break from the long days at home during those first few newborn months. A treadmill can also be an essential investment if your baby doesn’t like the stroller or when the only time you can find to log miles each day is at home while your little one naps.
Parenthood is a game changer and the first few years as a new mom can seem endless. While it may be tempting to shelve your own needs and goals, take these running tips to heart and make space for yourself among the other household priorities.
Oh, and enjoy the journey because babies don’t keep.
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