As much as I love to work out, I will be the first one to tell you… mom guilt over exercising is a real thing!
As much as we love our kids, taking time from caring for them to do something just for ourselves can instantly make us feel bad. Here are some of the thoughts that might run through your head:
What if I miss something important?
What if they feel neglected?
Don’t good moms spend all their time taking care of their kids?
And yet despite that little voice in the back of your head making you feel guilty over trying to exercise more, you probably know that it’s important. The better you take care of your health and fitness, the better you can show up for your kids.
You’ll physically be healthier, have more stamina and energy, and generally, be in a much better mood. All things that make it a lot easier to chase your toddler around trying to put his diaper back on. 🤦
So let’s cover 10 quick tips that I have used to help ditch the mom guilt over exercising so you can get that workout in without the drama! 🙌
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Benefits of Exercising for Moms
Before I dive into how to avoid mom guilt over exercising, it helps to understand why exercising is important for moms. You will probably have your own personal reasons for why you want to work out more, but it always helps to get another perspective.
According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise helps to:
- control weight
- combat health conditions and disease
- improve mood
- boost energy
- promote better sleep
As a mom with 3 kids who has felt some version of sleep-deprived, tired, and a little overwhelmed since I got pregnant over 12 years ago, I need a little more of all of that in my life.
Even if weight loss or improving your health isn’t a major goal for you right now, I haven’t yet met a mom who couldn’t use more energy, better sleep, and an improved mood.
And if losing weight and improving your overall health are concerns in your life, then exercising needs to be more than just “something you hope to get done.” It needs to become a priority!
So let’s talk about how to quiet that little voice in the back of your head that says you’re a bad mom because you want to leave your kids to go get a jog in.
How to Avoid Mom Guilt Over Exercising: 10 Quick Tips
Let me go on record and say, you’re not a bad mom for wanting to take care of your health. And exercising is an important part of that.
When you take care of yourself, it allows you to better take care of your kids. And in my opinion, anyone who disagrees with that probably doesn’t know how hard it is being a mom and their opinion doesn’t count anyway.
Focus On Your Why
The first step in avoiding mom guilt over exercising is getting clear on your why. Why is it important for you to exercise?
Are you trying to lose weight? Get in better health? Feel more fit? Set a good example for your kids?
Are you just plain tired of how you look and feel?? There are no wrong answers to this question.
But I want you to get clear on why exercising is important to you. And then take it a step further.
If you made time to exercise regularly, how would your life improve? How would you interact with your kids and family differently?
Would you be more patient, cheerful, or more willing to play and engage? I know I certainly am!
Sometimes all we need to get over the guilt of taking time for ourselves is to remember why it’s worth the perceived “sacrifice” our kids will be making. If you’re a happier and healthier mom because you do it, it’s worth it.
Have a Plan
Another way to help avoid mom guilt over exercising is to have a plan for your workouts. When we’re rushing and trying to get stuff done last minute then things can get hectic.
Then, a 20 minute workout can easily slip into 30-45 minutes when you have to spend time searching what workout to do, looking for your workout gear, trying to find the one sports bra that actually fits, and then hunting for your tennis shoes.
Instead, decide ahead of time what workout you’re going to do, have all your gear ready and waiting to go, so you can get it done fast, and quickly hop back into mom mode.
Pick the Best Time of Day
Another tip for easing the guilt over taking time to exercise is to pick a good time of day. Try to plan your workouts for when your kids are typically already entertained.
Here are some good times that have worked for me:
- While the kids are at school
- During soccer practice
- While the kids are playing at the park
- Before they wake up in the morning
- During screen time
- During a playdate
If you plan your workouts while you’re kids are already busy or occupied, then you don’t have to worry about feeling like you’re taking something away from them to find a little time for a workout.
Exercise in the Morning Before Your Kids Wake Up
Like I mentioned before, exercising before your kids get up makes it a lot easier to not feel guilty about your workout. They are blissfully snoozing while you’re getting some much-needed endorphins.
For a long time, this was the only way I could find time to exercise. Especially when my son was little.
If I did it in the morning before he got up, I got my workout done and could then give him the time he needed throughout the rest of the day.
Workout at Home
Another great way to avoid mom guilt over making time to work out is to exercise at home. If you’re struggling with leaving your kids for a 60-minute workout class, the last thing you want to add to that is a commute.
The 15-20 minutes you have to spend driving to the gym and back is going to make it feel like you’re taking a lot more time from your kids than if you could skip that part entirely.
Home workouts make my overall workout time a lot shorter, so I don’t have to feel bad about fitting it in.
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Keep Your Workouts Short
If you’re struggling with mom guilt over exercising, my next suggestion is to keep your workouts short. Sometimes the answer is to just spend a little less time exercising.
I know a lot of trainers or fitness coaches will suggest longer workouts. The more the better right?
Well, that’s all well and good as long as you actually do the workout.
A high-intensity 20-minute workout that you do consistently is going to get you much better results than a 60-minute fitness class you never go to because you feel bad for leaving your kids.
You’re much better off keeping it long enough to get a workout in, but not so long you start to feel bad about doing it.
Involve the Kids
If your kids are giving you serious puppy dog eyes when you go to exercise, maybe considering letting them join in.
Schedule Equal Quality Time and Workout Time
One of the reasons I would often feel guilty about taking time to work out was because I felt like I wasn’t spending enough time with my kids. How could I justify spending 30-40 minutes exercising when my kids were always asking me to play and I “didn’t have time.”?
A quick fix for this is to make sure you plan time to work out and time with your kids. For every workout, plan a board game with the kids or maybe time to read a few books.
Knowing that you’ll still have time with your kids can help ease some of that guilt.
Workout at the Park
Another good way to not feel guilty about exercising is to try exercising at the park. You get time to work out while your kids get to play and enjoy being outside.
Most of the time when we head to the park moms just spend time watching our kids play on the equipment or pushing them on the swing. Instead, try to walk a few laps around the playground.
Or maybe do a few squats in between pushes on the swing.
Have Special ‘Workout Time’ Activities for the Kids
My last tip for avoiding mom guilt over exercising is to have special “workout time” activities for the kids. Pull out something special and fun that your kids can only play with while you work out.
It can be whatever works for your kids, just make sure it’s something that they’ll be excited about. Here are some ideas:
- Screen time
- “Big kid” games
- Busy Bags
Make sure that you only pull out this activity when you exercise. That helps make it more special and fun and will keep the excitement with that activity alive for longer.
When workout time becomes something your child is looking forward to, it will help you feel a lot less guilty about making the time to get it done.
Conclusion to How to Avoid Mom Guilt Over Exercising
I hope these tips on how to avoid mom guilt over exercising were helpful for you. I know as a mom it can be incredibly hard to take time out of your day to workout when you’re usually taking care of your kids.
But try some of the tips listed and keep trying to make it work. Eventually, everyone will get used to the new routine and it will feel a lot easier getting it done.
What do you think about this list of tips to avoid mom guilt over exercising? Let me know in the comments below or email me at Candice@littlestepsbighappy.com. Follow me on Pinterest for more health and fitness tips for moms.
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I’m a busy mom of 3 turned Health and Fitness Coach and Self Defense Instructor. I help inspire other moms to reach their health, fitness, and weight loss goals. You can usually find me chasing my kiddos around, training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, or sneaking away to read romance novels. About Me