Saturday, October 30, 2010

is running selfish?

I've heard people say before that mothers who run are being selfish. That they are putting their own needs and desires ahead of their families. And for this their families suffer.

I've never been able to understand this viewpoint. I didn't grow up thinking that women were supposed to be self-sacrificing. That they aren't supposed to have interests outside of the home. I never thought that it would be impossible to find a balance between family life and personal interests. And I have never EVER thought that going on a run was even slightly selfish.

In fact, recent days have showed me that I am a MUCH BETTER mother and wife when I run. Honestly, I am flat out MEAN on my rest days. So much so, that I am considering running at least 1-2 miles EVERY day to keep me sane and to keep my family from hating me.

Take yesterday for example. It was a scheduled rest day for me. The morning was going well. I dropped off the older girls at school and then Dilly and I were "supposed" to run errands. But, life got in the way, which meant that very little got done. And with every minute that passed, I became more and more stressed. By the time I picked up everyone from school, I was having a hard time keeping my cool.

The afternoon didn't get any better. The girls weren't listening and I still wasn't getting anything accomplished. I started screaming. Over EVERYTHING. It was bad. At one point, I stepped back and thought, "What the heck is going on? They aren't being that bad. Why am I freaking out?"

And that's when I realized what was different from a "normal" day ...

I HADN'T RUN.

And EVERYONE ELSE was paying for it.

So, the next time someone tries to tell me that I am being selfish or that my children are suffering because I make running a priority, I am going to ask them to spend a rest day with me. That way they can see how UNSELFISH my running habit really is ...

59 comments:

Momma Twitch said...

Amen!!! It's sad that people think that way...

S Club Mama said...

for me either way is sometimes stressful but I agree. I think there does have to be some self-sacrifice when you have children, period (men and women); but there's a balance of taking care of yourself and taking care of your family.

Book Worm Runs said...

Wow, I can't believe someone would think you were selfish for running. There are so many positives about running...good health and being a positive role model to your children are just two off the top of my head. And, of course, keeping the sanity :o) You keep running and know that you are doing what is best for you AND your family!!

HEATHER @ runfastermommy! said...

someone once commented on one of my posts that the whole "running makes me a better mom" statement is bullcrap. I highly, highly, beg to differ. Running makes me a better mother, better wife, better student, and better person all around, for reasons I could fill up this comment space with , but I won't, since I know you already know those reasons, LOL.

Further more, I think NOT taking care of yourself , physically and clearly mentally in this case, is selfish. Our kids deserve the BEST from us, and I can not be my best when I'm unhealthy (physically or emotionally)

Deb said...

Absolutely not selfish.

Although, I will admit that I had to really experience it to come to this viewpoint. Before I started really running, I felt guilty about the time it would take away from my family and kids. Once I really got into it, I realized how much of a better mother it made me.

I'm like you, I get crabby when I don't train (I swim and bike too, so don't run as often).

Pretty much every mother would sacrifice their run if they were truly needed. If there was a situation that my husband was honestly incapable of dealing with, or I had to take a child to the doctor or something, I would reschedule my run without question. Fortunately, I have a pretty capable husband, so this hasn't happened yet, and isn't likely to be a common occurence.

BabyWeightMyFatAss said...

Completely agree. Unhappy mommy-unhappy kids, stressed out mommy-stressed out kids.

momof3 said...

Thanks T, you always know just what to say.

Now, how to get H on board?

Amanda said...

My husband usually tells me to go go run just because he knows I'll be happier for it! With this injury and not being able to run, my family has suffered for that and I think they would all agree that this mommy is a way better mommy when she runs! Keep on keepin' on!

Twila and Kris said...

AMEN! I believe we are setting a great example for our children. I am shocked by the people that feel it is selfish to run. I would much rather loose a few hours a week with my son than loose years with him because I was unfit.

I teacher children all day and have a 2 year if I do not run I find myself loosing my temper easily!

Meredith said...

As a mommy who just recently started running I definitely have battled with my share of guilt over getting my runs in. And now that I am back to work, I have to juggle all of the schedules, and since my husband works nights, I have to get it in either before work (DARK, COLD) or after work (and risk being late to pick the boys up at daycare). It is definitely a challenge, but so worth the fight. When I am able to run, I can handle everything better.

Thank you for this post.

~Pearl said...

The ironic thing about this is you and so many other runners that blog share so many wonderful stories that involve running and your whole family and how on many occasions it's a family affair. And in today's society when weight and obesity are off the charts, seeing people like you (and all you runners that blog) is refreshing. Everyone, including moms...need that one thing that keeps them sane. I think it's absurd that people are of that thinking that a mother that does something good for herself (like running or any activity) is being selfish. If anything, it's the exact opposite.
We're trying to teach our kids from a young age that they need to be active and exercise. Look at all the team sports that start around age 4 for kids. What better way to show them how import it is to be active than to be active yourself. They learn that they need to put in the time and discipline and how it makes them a better, stronger person. A mother is no different.

Colleen said...

I agree 100% - and as someone without children yet, I'm glad that you posted this. People ALREADY think that I'm selfish because of being a triathlete... I can only imagine how much worse that will be when I have kids.

Good for you for seeing the importance and quieting the nay-sayers!

Jen said...

I do feel selfish but KNOW that I am a better mother.

This morning my 7 year old said, I cannot wait for the marathon to be over.

I said, so you can go trick-or-treating.

She said, so you can stop running away from us.

THEY JUST DO NOT GET IT!

Amanda said...

Aww, Jen, they know just what to say to make us feel guilty! It is so hard NOT to feel guilty. I feel more guilty spending too much time on the computer than I do about running though. Good for you for doing a marathon for your kids to see and be inspired by!

Meredith said...

I think that balance is key. I think that, for me, running could become very selfish. But, I have an addictive personality. If it were completely up to me, I would run way more races, run after the sun rises, and spend lots more on gear. But, I have to keep myself in check. Remember my family. And take care of my marriage. Running absolutely makes me a better mom! I just have to remember to not make running more important than my family.

misszippy said...

You're totally on the money here!

Kerrie T. said...

I think people who don't run might think this. I'm pretty sure I know people who think this about me, and they are not runners. :(

BUT, I also think there's a thin line when it comes to running, blogging, racing, reading blogs about running, etc, etc. Unfortunately, I tend to cross it sometimes.

Kerrie T. said...

I should say, DITTO to Meredith's comment.

Jogging with Fiction said...

I don't have kids, but I know that I am MUCH happier on days when I run and would never think a mother was selfish for needing to take a little time to herself. Shouldn't a mom be relaxed and happy so her kids are too??

ajh said...

Healthy me time to keep sane is a must.

JenniferLeah said...

Selfish?
Selfish is being overweight, having high blood pressure, diabetes etc. Neglecting your health when you could make some changes very easily.
Selfish is NOT being active and leading a healthy life.
Who else are your children going to have as a positive example in their life when it comes to being fit and eating right?

Selfish is not taking the time to be healthy so you can be around for a long, long time for your husband and children.

I can think of NOTHING selfish about being an active Mom.
I am healthy, happy and a positive role model for my daughter.
I feel good about ME and that comes thru in my marriage and my relationships with family and friends.
Keep running & keep smiling!

Brenda said...

Take it from a 50 year old it is not selfish.I am just now doing what I wanted to do 30 years ago because of thinking that way.
I ran my first 5k last night.

Miranda said...

Running is selfish? Sounds like someone very unhealthy and unhappy would say. I think teaching our kiddos to take care of themselves and take time for themselves is very important so they don't grow up to say stupid stuff like running is selfish!

Marlene said...

You know what works best for you and your family. Who cares what anyone else thinks!

Eliza said...

Oh wow! I've never heard anyone say that and I didn't even think anyone will ever say that. What's so different about running and going to the gym to exercise? So mothers are supposed to sit and stare in space and gain weight? Wow! I wonder about the people that make these comments...maybe they want to run too?

eep said...

You know what? My running is selfish. I do it for me. Just for me. And that's OK. I deserve something just for me. Sometimes my kids and husband have to wait. That doesn't mean they don't come first, they just have to wait. I am OK with that, and so are they. We have priorities as a family, and my running is one of them. The key is that we are all in agreement about it, and they get their turns. So, yeah, running is selfish, and I am glad I have that.

Michelle said...

Your spot on T! Great post as always!!

trifitmom said...

seriously ? someone has said that running is selfish ?? how on heavens earth is exercising selfish ? i have constant mommy guilt and i thought it was in my own head but now i realize there are actually people who think this and say it ???

i supposed eating healthy is selfish too ?

it kills me !!!

Talitha said...

As mothers, taking care of ourselves so we can be our best for our families is one of the greatest things we can do for them. People who say running is selfish don't get it. Maybe they're just jealous? Whatever. Keep running, girl. It's one of the things that makes you a great mom!

Kiesha said...

DITTO!!!

Kiesha said...

DITTO!!!

Julie @ Hotlegs Runner said...

ugh! I bet the people who say that are non-runners.

Aimee said...

I totally agree with this post and couldn't have said it any better!!

MCM Mama said...

I run for the same reason as you - to keep sane while dealing with young children. If I didn't, I'd either be screaming constantly, eating all the time, or drinking (and I don't mean coffee.) And that wouldn't be good for anyone.

But even if I didn't "need" running, am I really supposed to give up everything in my life for my kids? Really? Do these people who say running is selfish have no hobbies? Nothing they do just for them? Nothing they make time for in a day? Why is a running habit any different than spending some time watching tv or out for a MNO or scrapbooking? And I'm not even going to get into the healthy role model and everyone needing exercise argument...

Her Name is Rio said...

Amen, sister!

Jamie said...

I definitely agree with you. I don't have kids but I still don't understand how some think because a mom wants to do something for herself/her well-being she is suddenly selfish. Your life can't be everyone else all the time!

a runners' life said...

I agree. An unhappy and grumpy person isn't going to make anyone else in their life happy.
Whoever thinks that family and children are the only aspect of a women's life are sad folks. Everyone has a right to do something for themselves, life's too short not to. And anyways, running sets a fantastic example for the family to stay fit, healthy and happy.

Christy said...

"So, the next time someone tries to tell me that I am being selfish or that my children are suffering because I make running a priority, I am going to ask them to spend a rest day with me. That way they can see how UNSELFISH my running habit really is" .... Amen sister!

If mama's not happy, ain't nobody happy, right?

runningwithababyonboard said...

I completely agree! Besides needing running for our mental health, people seem to forget the importance of teaching our children how to take care of their bodies through exercise. We're going to be here for our kids for a long time because we're taking care of our hearts and bodies.

And besides that, we're teaching our kids to be passionate about something they love doing.

I think a lot of people who say that are jealous, truthfully. I know I wouldn't be able to run without the support of a great husband who stays home with my little man when he can't come along in the jogging stroller.

Great post-- sorry... I seemed to have written a book back. :)

Jodi H said...

Not selfish at all! I agree with you 100% T. I am a better mom when I run. I leave my stress out on the road so I am happy when I get back to hang out with the family!

Karen said...

I totally agree with you on this one!!! Running is a great way to relieve stress and life can be very stressful sometimes!

suzy@happywith13.1 said...

Even if you put aside the fact that it makes us happier, healthier, nicer....

How about the role model we are for our kiddos? Whether we mean to or not, we are teaching our kids to make health and exercise a priority in their life by setting that example. How can that possibly be selfish?

Yep, those other people can jump in a lake. I'm gonna keep on running =)

Anonymous said...

I know its important for both parents to get their 'personal time' and to be able to exercise.
I think i understand where that person maybe was coming from. For all those who exercise 4x or more weekly....are their spouses also able to work out that much? I know my triathlete DH works out like 15 hours a week, sometimes more. Which makes it damn near impossible for me to get my workouts in most weeks. I have to literally stop him...and make him watch the baby so i can go on my measily half hour workout. That sounds simply but it isn't. So i am curious to know just how much the other spouses are able to get their workouts in when they have a very intensely working out spouse. I guess what i am saying is i understand why it seems selfish. If a person is addicted (which is a good addiction if you got one) to working out...that is not good or healthy for the family unit. An addiction is an addiction. And it is one when you can't go a day without it or when your so into it that it takes away from your families ability to do their hobbies as well.

wojo said...

As a stress reliever, running is completely unselfish. You know what works for you to make you better at being a mom. You'd be SMART for taking a run every day, not to mention being an amazing role model for your kids.

Neither of my parents never had a stress-relief activity when I was a kid and it's taken me years to get in the habit of fitting it into my daily schedule.

Keep it up! Maybe some day your kids will want to join you on the runs.

Anonymous said...

(did above post) I am taking a safe assumption that the original commentor is both unable to get thru to a significant other that is addicted to a hobby(in this case working out) AND does not know the positive outcomes of exercise.
There IS a difference between ocd athletes and the average athlete (who can balance their sport out with their family/lifestyle). Hopefully the original person who made that statement to you doesn't actually know you, because you seem to balance things out pretty. It is unfair for someone to blatently say someone is selfish for whatever reason without knowing that person very well. Perhaps we can all take from this topic a moment of gratitude and appreciation for our loving families who help us with staying sane and healthy, and also a moment (for those who are ocd athletes who cant go a day without it) to pause and perhaps give the significant other a little break this week and some time for them to do something for themselves.

Lesley @ racingitoff.com said...

I am exactly like that. I snap at silly things on days I haven't had my "release" (running). Not to mention that if you aren't keeping your body healthy, you might be shortening your time with your children anyhow...

But on another end, I DO think there can be too much. I do know a set of parents who each have 3 or more large time and money-sucking interests outside of the home plus work full time. Their evenings and weekends are spent on these interests... and I'm sorry, but at that point, I do think it's selfish... they don't even see their children but a few hours a week. I know that's an extreme case, but it hits a little too close to home for me, unfortunately.

I try my best to find a healthy balance... and since I'm blessed to be a stay at home mom, I feel a little less guilty taking weekend hours. I admire parents who can work, train, and still find a good balance for their children...

Amanda@runninghood said...

Well said Lesley! Even as a stay-at-home mom, I can find myself just being selfish with being on the phone, computer, or letting other distractions push my kids aside and using the excuse that I'm home all day with them and need a break. I think that sometimes it is easier for me to take my kids for granted since I am at home all the time...sometimes I think my time with them when I was working was actually more quality than it can be now if I'm not careful. But running in itself is part of what keeps me focused on my kids during the day.

Holly said...

Yeah I totally don't agree with that statement (non-mom here). By taking care of yourself you provide for your family.

If you were out of shape, overweight, health probs, etc.... how the heck would you care for your children?

That's what I would say to someone who told me exercising moms are selfish.

Candice @ I Have Run said...

I so so so agree!! I am a much better wife and mother when I run regularly. I have noticed if it isn't every other day, things can get ugly. I think women who do something for themselves are better people overall. I have seen too many women get lost in their families or their jobs and their lives are just sad.

Jesser said...

I will NEVER subscribe to the school that requires me to surrender my identity simply because I have kids. I am a better person, better mom because I love things other than my kids. Not more than them; aside from them.

My friend Kristi wrote beautifully on the topic of mommy martyrdom ...
http://interruptedwanderlust.blogspot.com/2010/05/blue-dress-continued.html

I just generally ignore that sort as a rule.

shellyrm aka jogging stroller mama said...

I love the anonymous commenter. First comment harsh and then kissing your butt a little. Too funny. anyhooo

I could right a book on the question, is running selfish?

By definition when one thinks about one's self that is being selfish. And I say, I am entitled to a hour of my time every day. Selfish. Sure. Just as selfish as it is for my hubbs to want a hour of my day for him and my kids, oh they want more than an hour of mommy. And they are not thinking of mommy, they are think of themselves and their needs. Selfish. Just because it is selfish does not make it a negative. It is a postive to think about one's self.
Just now (honestly!) my hubbs just called me at work and asked me to make him a pot of coffee because he "was out." That means is cup from home was empty. Does he go to a drive through, NO. He wants some of my time to save him some time. See. We all do it. Just in different ways.
It is NOT a negative to be selfish. If we never do anything for ourselves because we have our own desires and dreams how shallow of a person will we be when we are left with a empty house and our children have grown?
I am a runner and yes, many days I am selfish! And my family benefits from it.

Runners Fuel said...

There is no way that a mother that runs is being selfish. It's something you enjoy. In order to be a good mom, you need to have your time and enjoy something of your own. NEVER think you're being selfish!

sTyliSH1 said...

Honestly I think parents that maintain a healthy lifestyle teach their children to be active and healthy. So if a person does nothing and stays home all day that's only showing their kids that that is what a family does. Who wants to do that! You keep doing what you do :)

OrangeBlossom said...

As a mom of five, running has made a huge positive impact on my and my family. This month, I will have been running for an entire year. My kids have mentioned many times on how much happier and nicer I am ... even when I am disciplining them too.

Currently, I am running four days a week. I'm considering running five days a week, because there's some extending family stress that I need to pound out on the pavement. Plus, I want to run the Marine Corps Marathon next October.

Beana said...

Absolutely not! I think moms often aren't selfish ENOUGH to take care of themselves and their families suffer. Running is the #1 way I take care of myself as a wife and working mom of 3 young kids. In fact when I'm really stressed or panicking, my husband TELLS ME to go running b/c he knows I'll come back in a much better mental space.

JillC said...

For the first time ever, our kids are predicted to have a SHORTER lifespan than us, due to obesity. There is nothing selfish about taking care of ourselves and setting a good example of an active lifestyle for our children.

Due to a cold with wheezing, I missed my long run this morning. Instead I went to Kohls and spent way too much money. So much better for me to run in my limited free time! ha ha

Kim said...

I'm so tired of women acting like there is some sort of contest going on to see who the most selfless person is. I get called selfish all the time because I don't have kids. I hear my sister being called selfish because she didn't quit working. It goes on and on and I just wish we'd stop judging each other and start supporting each other.

I think it's great that you're a mom and you run. What better way to be a role model for your kids?

DaphneB said...

Amen, sister! I feel like by running and making your fitness and health (both mental and physical) a priority is so important for kids to see. Selfish? Please. I think that what's selfish is allowing yourself to become sick because of a sedentary lifestyle sprinkled with an unhealthy diet. To quote: It is an act of love, to both you and your loved ones, to take of yourself so others aren't forced to.

Also, you are setting a good example for your daughter who will grow up to see that it is ok to take "me" time as a mom. I never got to see that, and I still struggle with doing things for myself....

5 Miles 2 Empty said...

Thin line, for sure. There are times when a run would be completely selfish. Like tomorrow I really wanted to go meet up with a local running group for the first time, at 6 PM. But my hubby has an important test he is taking on Wed. I could go to the group, but it would be selfish. He has a one time test that he has to study for. I can meet the group another time. I think it is give and take and consideration. At one point, my hubby was working out constantly. i never had a chance myself because I just couldn't get it in. That was selfish on his part (pretty sure annonymous mentioned this is his/her comment). It took serious time away from our family and caused some serious problems. Not to mention I sat aroudn with a baby and got bigger and bigger and more and more frustrated until I was able to work my way into a running routine that worked for our family.

Excellent topic T! In the end, I think running makes us better moms, wives, lovers, you name it...yep, I said lovers. I know. Corny. =)