parenting · running

Exercise vs Mum Guilt

This week The Independent published an article about mums of young children feeling guilty when they take time for themselves to exercise.

A poll conducted by Sport England highlighted that of the 1006 mothers with children under six surveyed 77% said they would like to do more exercise, with 61% admitting that they would feel bad taking time for themselves to exercise.

Interestingly, the article doesn’t mention dad’s and whether their attitude to exercise changes after they have little ones. A quick scout around the internet and sure enough there are very few articles. Dad’s, genuine question here, is this something you experience that isn’t raised by the media?

I’ve had an up and down relationship with exercise over the years. When I ran before I had children I could take a leisurely approach to when I went out, have a bit of a lie in and then go later in the day if I felt like it. Basically, I could pick and choose when I ran.

Post children and it is a totally different ball game. I ummed and ahhed about entering the Cardiff Half Marathon this year as, in order to respect the distance, you really do need to train. That means going out on long runs and potentially missing out on family time, feeling like I’m not there enough for my family or feeling like I’m putting too much of the childcare burden on my other half.

In someways the guilt is how I ended up changing my running pattern. I still do my long run on the weekend, but I do two runs very early in the morning (5.40am wake up call anyone?) and one during my lunchtimes. I’ve managed to offload some of the guilt this way.

I guess the key question is why do we feel guilty for going out and doing something positive for ourselves, which in turn will impact our families in a positive way?

I’m part of a two parent household, we each have equal responsibility for raising the children and my other half will happily shove me out the door like the old lady shoves out the pig in a Squash and a Squeeze.

So why do I feel guilty?

I know I’m not alone from speaking to friends.

So what’s the answer? How do we go out and exercise without feeling like a soldier carrying a loaded backpack on an army training run? We know that negative thoughts can affect the way we feel about our runs and the reason a lot of us do run is to get the headspace.

If you have any tips for lightening the guilt please do share them either in the comments section or via Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

6 thoughts on “Exercise vs Mum Guilt

  1. I never understood this guilt… Perhaps I’m over-simplifying a little bit, but I’ve always thought, “If I don’t take care of myself first, who’s going to take care of my family when I fall over from exhaustion, etc?”

    As my daughter gets older and closer to branching out on her own, the time with her feels that much more precious. So I do the same things: my runs are early, or while she’s off doing something else.


    1. I think you’re right about your thought process in terms of if you don’t look after yourself then it’ll affect your family, it’s why I run early or in work. But I still feel bad when I’m on a long run even though I have my other half support and the boys. I’m not even sure where it comes from given I know the positives outweigh the negatives of me not running.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, I doubt I can do much to absolve you of your guilt… So perhaps I can offer you “Justification Services” instead.

        It’s only for a short time. Then you’re back with your family until the next training cycle. (Okay, so I may be just as bad at that as I am at absolving guilt… I think I’ll quit while I’m only moderately behind!)


  2. I think as mothers it’s imprinted into us from early on in life that it is our sole job to take care of the family. When I look back at my childhood I was always taught that maintaining the household and taking care of the family was a woman’s sole job. Never once was I taught to take care of myself at all. It was always family ( hubby and kids) first. Maybe it’s an element of that, that causes our guilt. I know going to the gym I felt so guilty so I would wait till the kids were sleeping before I went. Maybe as mothers we need to train our brains to remember that we are important too and need to take care of ourselves too. I’m still struggling with that guilt myself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you’re right about retraining our brains to remember we’re important as well and need to take care of ourselves. I guess it’s all work in progress x

      Liked by 1 person

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