"I just feel so GUILTY taking time away from my family."
"It just makes me feel GUILTY leaving the baby with my spouse."
"Oh it's nice how you go for runs, but I'd feel too guilty taking that time for myself."
Oh my sweet goodness how these phrases make my eyes roll to the back of my head!
Are you a "bad mom" for taking time out of your day to exercise so that you can function as a happier, healthier human and thus serve your "people" better?
Absolutely not. And by "people" I mean whoever you are serving--your spouse, your child(ren), the people you work with, etc.
I did not realize until I became pregnant that "mom guilt" is a thing. Yes, I'm a little late to the party because apparently it's not new.
I would define "mom guilt" as the shame you feel about some action dealing with parenting. No, it's not Webster's definition but this is at least how I see it. So for example, you might feel "mom guilt" over giving your kids cookies for breakfast or the most frequent occasion, for using some of your time to help take care of yourself.
Here's how I deal with "mom guilt."
I ask myself a few questions: 1.) "Do I feel morally OK about this?" 2.) "Is what I'm taking time for helping me become a better version of myself?" 3.) "Do I actually feel bad about this because I shouldn't be doing it or do I feel bad about it because everybody else would make me feel bad about it?"
If I can honestly "pass" all the questions above, then I continue with what I'm about to do with as clear of a conscience as I can and try to accept that my "guilt" is unfounded. If I stumble while answering the questions above and do actually find a reason I should feel bad about what I'm considering then I know that the guilt is legitimate and I halt whatever I was about to do.
What do I consider acceptable actions that should not produce "mom guilt" and what do I consider something worth feeling shame over? It doesn't really matter what I think.
I think that you need to analyze that based on your own situation. I don't think taking time to exercise is ALWAYS acceptable and I don't think taking time to go out for a friend's birthday dinner is always unacceptable.
I believe the key is balance and finding what works for your family and your situation.
For example, I do consider it excessive and "mom guilt"-worthy if I were to pass my son off to my husband the second he gets home every weekday so I can go spend two hours at the gym. However, I do not feel guilty about or see anything wrong with getting in a twenty minute run before I make dinner when my husband is more than happy to get some solo play time with the baby.
Exercising makes me a more calm, patient, and lovable wife, mother, daughter, sister, trainer, etc.
"Brittany who worked out" vs. "Brittany who didn't" are very different people.
For example, if while I'm making dinner, my husband tries to sneak in quickly and grab a drink without disturbing what I'm doing but then accidentally dumps an entire container of left-overs on the floor (this might be based on reality), "Brittany who didn't work out" would groan loudly and then huff around the kitchen grumpily chastising the poor man under her breath while she finishes cooking.
On the contrary, "Brittany who worked out" would probably make a joke about it, knowing it was an accident, and then jovially swat him with a kitchen towel. (I had to add "jovially" so I don't get comments about how abuse is not funny or loving--you know what I mean, people.)
My point? Don't feel guilty about doing what you need to do in order to function better as a human. To run on all cylinders. To keep your sanity!
I know my family much more appreciates when I might leave them for a half hour and come back full of love and laughter rather than "sacrifice my workout" and submit my family to a worn-out, resentful, wife/mother who doesn't have much left to give.
Fill your tank.
Factors to consider to help alleviate and combat the "mom guilt" over exercising:
1.) Try higher intensity workouts so the duration is shorter.
2.) Include your kids as much as you can.
3.) Work out at a time where you can't help anyone anyway. (Early mornings, after bedtimes, nap time, etc.)
4.) Remind yourself that it is for the good of everyone for you to be healthy.
Also, to keep it real, because I am just not the type to hold your hand and tell you that, "You're a special snowflake," be real with yourself and don't use "mom guilt" as an excuse.
Ain't nobody gotta feel bad about getting up at 5am to workout when your whole clan is still sleeping. It just sounds better to say you don't exercise because you feel "guilty" rather than you don't exercise because you don't have the self-discipline to get your sleepy ass out of bed.
Sorry, just keepin' it real :)