But first…. WE WENT TO KOREA AND HAD AN AMAZING TIME!
As some of you know, my kids were both adopted from Korea when they were babies (they are 14 and 12 now) and this was our first trip back to their birth country. It was an incredibly meaningful, important, fun, and delicious trip. It was hard for this mommy not to tear up constantly as I watched my kids embrace all that the beautiful city of Seoul offered us. It felt like one of those “things have come full circle” moments for me and my children came home with more of themselves.
Also, Korean street food! Here we are enjoying my favorite, Hotteok, a fried yeasted bread filled with sugar, cinnamon, and nuts. Running fuel at its finest.
Thanks for letting me indulge. Now where was I? Oh yeah, mommy guilt. Obviously, when these cutie pies were little, it felt impossible to leave them for morning runs. My daughter’s separation anxiety lasted well into her 8-9 years, so I went through many strategies to help them feel ok with me leaving for runs and me not being consumed with mommy guilt.
And then my therapist gave me a BRILLIANT tip. The cool thing about this one is that you can use it for lots of things with your kids.
the TIP: Runner mommy guilt solution: make your kids your cheerleaders
When your kids are old enough to understand how to ra-ra-ra and cheer someone on, have them learn to cheer you on, too! They are familiar with cheering because of all the cheering we do for them;
“You put your shirt on by yourself – hurray!”
“You put your toys in the bin – hurray!”
“You let ME go to the bathroom by myself – hurray!”
Now you can teach them to cheer for you. Here are some ways to do that. You can pick ones that fit the age of your kiddo:
- Explain to them how you cheer them on in life and that mommy needs a cheerleader, too
- Give them examples of your support for them, be specific about how they can show support to you as a runner mommy
- Talk to them about how cheering for others is part of growing up and building good relationships and friendships
- Make cheering props together like pom poms, signs, honking horns (ok, maybe not horns)
- Come up with a fun handshake for when you head out the door
- Have them help you prep for your run the night before (“I’m so glad to have your help so I don’t forget anything!”)
- Involve them in other parts of your running life like making a good breakfast to refuel when you get home. Athletes of all sizes need good food – an “eat-your-veggies” twofer!
- Do stretches or other fun conditioning games with them after your run
- Congratulate them on being a great cheerleader! You could even make them a little cut-out paper race “medal” award for best cheerleader or let them hang some of your race bling in their room
Anything helps, right? And, I will be honest, my daughter didn’t love this idea at first. But, once she figured out that she could DO something with her anxiousness and take an active role in the solution to her uncomfortable feelings, she was able to let me go easier. And now, we use it for other things like when I have to go to work or do things that don’t include her.
Building my kids up with positive ways to meet their troubles head on gives them confidence to tackle other hard situations. Seeing her success in being a cheerleader for me, helps me be able to translate that to being a cheerleader for her brother or others. It also gives her a win that we can reference next time she hits a challenge. Knowing that I’m helping to build her up relieved some of my mommy guilt.