Movement is mandatory for this Mama. Period. But don’t get me wrong; my activity looks A LOT different now than it did before Kid #1. However, I recognize it is an absolute necessity for my mind and body. It’s good for me personally, and it makes me a better mother to feel good in my body. There is always something to be done, whether cleaning, cooking, shopping, business planning, etc. But prioritizing time for my health and well-being as a mother is something I’ve always known, but took some time to truly embrace. Now, I know it’s a non-negotiable. That being said, I hear you out there...it ain’t always easy!
Choosing an activity that I enjoy and that is accessible with the kids around is key. For me, that’s running. Running was a love of mine, pre-kids, during my pregnancies, and now, post-pregnancy. It’s my go-to for an easy access and inexpensive/free activity, and also one that I can do with one or both children. Oh, and a great way to get my kids to sleep! It has taken some training for my “let’s do it” mindset, as well as each child’s temperament in the beginning, but now they understand that stroller time is a requirement for running or long walks, and it’s just part of our routine. Like any other habit, it may take some time.
With this in mind, here are a few tips and things to consider if you’re looking to run (or even long walks) with your little ones:
1. Choose to run based on the “best” timing overall, not just your personal preference: 7 or 8am runs used to be my jam! I mean, I could roll out of bed, drink a quick sip of water, throw on shoes and GO! If you plan to take a kid or two with you, know that this is highly unlikely. BUT, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. Morning runs are still the goal, and most likely (especially in the heat!), but may entail an additional breastfeeding session prior to keep the smallest one happy, and maybe a breakfast “appetizer” to keep the toddler at bay. Or it may have to switch to a later afternoon run. I just commit to running that day, and adjust accordingly.
2. Pick a stroller that works well and is dependable:My running stroller became my favorite item after Kid #1 hit 6 months. It felt like a new sense of freedom! For me, the Joovy was the best option, as I found it be light, easy to control, great customer service and not overly expensive. A little research will help you find out what works for you. Also, consider apps like OfferUp or consignment shops for running strollers (many are close to brand new!).
3. Go prepared & bring ALL the things! At this point, I need very few items to have a successful run with both kids, but maaaan that wasn’t always the case. With Kid #1, I used to take a basket full of items and like 80 snacks, just in case. Now, as pictured above
, I have a few must-haves: my Powerbeats headphones, 2 toys for the baby, a book, toy, snack and water for the toddler. Oh! And a Bluetooth speaker in case of meltdown and I need to crank some music or audio from a kid show. If running with an infant, I’d suggest bringing a towel/receiving blanket in case you need to stop, pick them up, or maybe feed them or change them. It happens. Just take it. Your run will go smoother.
4. Be patient with yourself: When I first started running with a stroller, my ego would kick in and tell me, “damn, you’re slow! You’ll never run another marathon!” But you know what?? Running with a stroller is work! You’re pushing humans around, trying to breathe, be safe, dodging walkers, probably talking to keep the kids happy…it takes energy. Focus on the fact that you got out and are doing something positive for yourself. You’ll get better in due time.
5. For older kids, build in a fun sight or game: My 3 year old loves a scavenger hunt, or running past landmarks that he remembers (like the fire station). We count dogs, birds, scooters, play “I Spy”….whatever you gotta do! Including your child in on your run path and what you’ll see may keep them engaged.
6. Run during a longer time of availability, in case of any unexpected events: If you want a 45 minute run, do not give yourself 45 minutes to accomplish it so that you can rush home prior to a doctor appointment. It can happen! But why give yourself the added stress. I learned this the hard way…a few times. Give yourself extra time, just in case!
7. Be relatively consistent with your runs for habit building: This goes for you and for the kid. It will get easier to get out the door, and your child will adapt to your new routine. But doing it somewhat regularly is how they adjust.
8. Don’t give up! If you’re committed to running with the kids, COMMIT to running with the kids. If there is a major meltdown, don’t throw the baby (or stroller!) away with the bathwater…give it another try! It will get easier.
Whether it’s running, walking, outdoor workouts, or whatever works for you, know that YOU’VE GOT THIS! You and the kid(s) will survive and you’ll feel so accomplished.