I groan every time my alarm goes off. Every. Single. Time. I may be a morning person, but I have yet to meet anyone who honestly enjoys getting up before dawn. I do it, though, because I know that I will feel 100% better heading into a busy day after I’ve gotten a run in. I’m able to be a little more patient after I’ve blown out some energy and frustration in a good workout.
Some people are surprised that I am able to balance a full-time teaching job, my role as a wife and mother, and my running. I often tell them that it is my running that allows me to find balance in my life.
I have been a runner for fifteen years, a teacher for twelve, and a mother of twins for seven, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that as my responsibilities in life have increased, so has my running. You see, running is how I process the stress that comes with the other roles.
Kids are great, they truly are, but when you spend seven hours a day in a classroom full of them, and then come home to two of your own, there’s a lot of metaphorical weight on your shoulders. Alone time is almost nonexistent. I spend my day surrounded by noise, excitement, and movement. For someone like me, who is a highly sensitive person, that’s a lot to process. Running allows me to step away from that world. It gives me some time to myself, a chance to sift through my thoughts, and an opportunity to be a bit selfish.
Running also allows me to maintain a connection to the person that I was before I became a mom. Any new parent can tell you that the shift to parenthood is a monumental one. There are many times when it’s hard to remember what your life was like before children. While I love my children dearly, and I celebrate all that they have added to my life, I also occasionally mourn for the young, carefree girl I used to be. In the early months of my children’s infancy, I used to sit and wonder if life would ever feel “normal” again. If I would ever get some time to myself to do the things that I loved. Returning to running helped me remember who I was outside of being a parent.
I firmly believe that it is important for parents to make time for their passions in life. For me, that time is spent on the treadmill or outside in the predawn hours. For my husband, his time is Thursday nights, when he meets up with several friends as part of his weekly bowling league.
The time doesn’t have to be spent pursuing athletics or exercise. You might have a love of the arts, and enjoy attending or performing in shows and musicals. Or you might love cooking, and spend time whipping up culinary delights or disasters in the kitchen. The important thing is just to find a regular time to pursue what you love.
I know that it’s hard. Trust me. During the school year, I tend to be out of the house from 6:45am until at least 4:00pm. Once we get home, I focus on getting the kids fed, washed, and read to. After they go to bed, I take the time to attend to additional work, or steal a few minutes to catch up on the day with my husband. I usually crash into bed by 9:00pm. It doesn’t leave a lot of time for fun, which is why I get up before 5:00am to get in my runs.
I like to think that I am teaching my children and my students about the importance of living a balanced life and following their passions. A lot of people like to talk about the importance of doing what you love. I show my kids, every day that I lace up my shoes, how much I value running and what it adds to my life.
My running often provides an opportunity for us to come together as a family. My husband joined me for my first ever half and full marathons, and I probably would not have crossed the finish line of those races if I hadn’t had him by my side. Our children have also taken part in numerous race days. When they were little, I ran several 5Ks pushing them in the double stroller. Once they got a bit older, they began to join us in the fun. We run The Color Run in Philadelphia together every year, and they have crossed the finish line of several local 5ks as well.
At many of my longer races, they are manning the sidelines, handing out high-fives to athletes and giving me encouragement when I need it most. They have seen me fighting back tears on tough days and celebrating in victory on good ones. Most importantly, they’ve seen what people are able to accomplish when they are willing to work hard and believe in themselves.
I’m a happier person because I run, which makes me a better mother and a better teacher. What do you love? What makes you happy? I encourage you to look for the answer, and then start finding a way to add that activity into your busy schedule. Feeling more joy and fulfillment in your life will allow you to bring those qualities to your parenting.
One of the most common phrases I hear when people find out the amount of running and racing I do is: “I don’t know how you do that.”
I don’t know how I could not.