Monday through Friday, between the hours of 9 and 10 am, you can find me busting out a few miles on the treadmill in our basement. I’ve kept this routine for nearly a year and it’s quite possibly the only thing keeping me from losing my sh*t on the roughest days in parenting.
Before I conceived my now 3 year old son, I miscarried my first pregnancy. While waiting for the all-clear to start trying again, I picked up running. At first, it was a 30 minute run/walk, then a 20 minute jog, and eventually built itself up to a distance and speed of quality. What kept me pushing through was this thought, “I cannot control anything except for this run right now”. I can’t control the miscarriage, I can’t control the lack of a baby in 9 months, and I can’t control the fear for future pregnancies. But here, during this run, I am in control.
After we brought our second child home and the visitors returned to their regularly scheduled programs, I was thrown into life as a stay at home mother of two. The house was a perpetual mess, the laundry piled up in corners of respective bedrooms, and I could feel myself slipping into a sea of baby blues.
After a particularly rough morning juggling the needs and demands of a toddler and newborn, I decided to maximize her morning nap time. I handed my toddler the iPad, put on some feel good tunes, and hopped on the treadmill. Again, the thought that got me through a miscarriage came back to me: “I cannot control anything except for this run, right now”. I can’t control the baby’s s witching hours, I can’t control the attention seeking meltdowns by my toddler, I can’t control the lack of sleep we are all suffering from. But right here and right now, this is in my control.
When I finished my measly reintroduction to the running game, I texted my husband and told him I could feel the clouds parting and the frustration melting. The brief 30 minutes I demanded for myself gave me a sense of clarity that is often hard to find within the groundhog days of motherhood. I found I could tolerate the tantrums of my toddler and the shrieks of my infant without spiraling into a dark, powerless hole. This revelation motivated me to get on the treadmill the next day, and the next day, and the day after that.
That was 9 months, about 180 runs, and approximately 720 miles ago. Every morning before I open the bedroom doors to the day’s dose of chaos, I lace up my running shoes in anticipation of the morning nap. While the beats blare in my ears and my feet find their stride, I tell myself, “I cannot control anything except for this run right now”. In the words of the great Janet Jackson, “I’m in control”.
Exercise can truly release some of the irritating side effects of parenting. It doesn’t have to be a run, but you’ll surprised how getting your heart rate up for 30 minutes can bring your irritation down for the day. Get moving, mama. Run, walk, dance, or yogilate your way back to sanity. Need a personal accountability partner? I’m your girl. Drop me a line here or here.