This is a guest post written by Sharon Evans. This is part of a series of posts from women of all walks of life, sharing tips and their passion with other women.
Kids! If they’d let me sleep, I’d have a million. But as wonderful as they are they turn your pre child world upside down. When I found out I was pregnant with my first (Parker, now 4) I was 32, well into my adult life, complete with self serving physical/mental routine. I was very health conscious and determined to stay active to provide the best care for myself and, in turn, my new baby throughout and after pregnancy.
Fast forward 7 months later, I’m just barely holding together daily walks and outings on top of my other motherly duties, when I find out I’m pregnant again with my second (Violet, now 3). As the pregnancy progressed I became anemic and lethargic due to the demands on my body from breastfeeding while carrying a new baby. This made it harder and harder for me to find motivation to get out and be active. After Violet was born there was just no time. With my husband traveling 2 weeks or more out of the month, I was lucky to have a shower, let alone workout. During this time I became very depressed. I knew in my heart that I was lucky and that I should feel fortunate to have such a wonderful family, but most of the time I just felt exhausted, useless, and unattractive. As much as I tried to keep a positive attitude, I kept finding myself feeling more unhappy and drained.
When Violet was 6 months I joined a local Stroller Stride group that provides workout classes for mothers with children. At first I was reluctant to spend money on exercise that I could do at home for free, but the classes provided a goal and a commitment that I couldn’t easily back out of. It was a wonderful group of supportive moms who completely understood your current state in life. It also promoted camaraderie and socialization between the moms – other aspects I found that I was neglecting within myself. Sure, we had regular play dates and other kid activities, but I never felt that much of that time was dedicated to me, and a lot of times I felt self conscious and out of touch with the other moms who did have time to take care of themselves. Or better yet, connect with the moms who still looked lovely and made my situation look effortless. I put forth immense effort in those days and I was fully aware that I showed every bit of it.
Due to our routines, I found it hard to attend the Stroller Strides class regularly and as a result get fit and connect with the other moms. Five months later I decided to quit and join a couple friends from our neighborhood running. They started at 5:30am and aimed to run 3-5 miles 3 times a week with one 6 mile or more once a week. At first I struggled with the physical exertion and waking up earlier, but after a while I found my body began to crave it. Waking up earlier allowed me to dedicate time to myself while freeing up the rest of my day for my family. It was also a game changer to start the day dressed, fully charged and ready to tackle anything my kids needed as soon as they woke. The confidence and positivity gained from not feeling like you’re chasing the day was a pleasant surprise.
After 3-4 months I noticed a significant increase in energy and elevated mood. These changes radiated outward and positively affected my family. I now felt I had the energy to do more and be more patient with my children as well as spend quality time with my husband. This allowed me to appreciate and savor my time at home instead of just bearing through it.
Pretty soon our group started to compete in races just for the fun of it. In turn we promoted each others training and found new ways to keep our running engaging. Even now I’m completely addicted, even without races to train for, and have no plans to ever stop.
For new mothers out there looking into running, I highly recommend joining a group. My running friends have become some of my closest and one of my main social outlets. We laugh, commiserate and support each other so that we’re not merely surviving parenthood, we’re thriving.
This extends to all challenges life hands us. Tragically, last year I lost my father to a brief battle with cancer. After a period of mourning, I found my way back to running. Even though it’s going on 10 months and I’m still terribly heartbroken, I feel mentally and physically equipped to fight through the hard times and continue my life to the best of my ability. I know deep down that’s exactly what my father would have wanted and it makes it all the better.
My 3 year old just asked me when she can make milk for babies. I immediately told her when she’s 40. When/if parenthood visits Violet, I definitely plan on sharing this article with her. I don’t have a lot of advice, but I sincerely hope by sharing this experience that she, and other mothers may benefit from it.
More about Sharon Evans
Originally from Calgary Alberta Canada, I moved to Arizona in 2003 and never left. In 2006 I started to run regularly and completed my first 1/2 marathon the same year. I was fortunate enough to marry my husband, Erik, in 2011 and had our children in 2012 and 2014. PF Chang’s Rock and Roll Marathon is the race I most commonly enter, however, this year I’m registered in the Spa Girl Tri for my first triathlon experience in June 2017.