A question that I get asked a lot is, “How do you do it?” I get asked that about feeding 12 kids, laundry, running, and life in general. But since this is my running blog, today I am going to write about how I get lots of miles in while raising 12 kids, working a demanding job from home, trying my best to be the wife my husband deserves, keeping my house in order, and living this good life (while keeping my sanity).
Being honest, the running helps a lot with the keeping my sanity part. I have always loved the life that Josh and I have built together and have always been a happy and optimistic person. But for a long time, I did not dedicate much (any) time or energy to taking care of myself. I often ate cereal for dinner after the kids were in bed. I ate whatever junk was around. Showers didn’t happen until noon some days. There was no exercise or hobbies or any part of my life that wasn’t directly related to Josh and the kids or my job. I think that is typical for a lot of moms.
When I decided I was sick of putting myself last and wanted to start taking care of myself too, I had to figure out how to carve out some time to do it in. Like every other mom (and dad!) on the planet, I could imagine my day and write out a to-do list that took up every single minute of it and then some. It was so easy to say, “Oh bummer. I just don’t have enough time to exercise.” That is what I did for years and years and years.
I took an hour in the morning after the bigger kids were on the bus, the younger kids at home were settled, and before the phone started ringing too much and decided that was my time. Of course there were interruptions at times, but for the most part I found by choosing to take that hour (give or take) to exercise, that somehow the world kept turning, everything still managed to get done during the day, and I felt a whole lot better getting it done.
A couple of months later when I started running, I was hooked. It was SO stinking hard and most often in the beginning left me feeling slow and out of shape, and yet I loved it. Every day I woke up wanting to get out there and try again, and the sense of accomplishment I had when I was able to run further or faster was incredible. I ran my first race and LOVED the experience. I went to a running store and got real running shoes. I ordered Runner’s World Magazine. I got faster. I was able to run further. I started thinking of myself as a runner, and loved it. I found a part of myself I didn’t know had been hiding in there for 32 years.
The more I ran, the more I enjoyed running and the more I saw “runner” as a part of who I am. And I noticed that as I started taking care of myself and found the runner inside of me, that I was a lot happier overall. I never had been unhappy in any way, and yet I found that I suddenly had more patience, more energy, more focus, less stress, and just a new sense of inner peace.
So finding time to get my runs in became important. At first I was only running three or so miles a day, which didn’t take up a whole lot of time, but as I started training for longer races I had to run further which took up more time.
The only way for me to get my runs done is to either get up and run really early while the kids are still sleeping, Josh is home, and no one needs me (or even knows I am gone), or to get on the treadmill while the kids are settled. During the winter I did most of my weekday running on the treadmill after the kids got on the bus, and while Josh was still home and getting ready for work (and keeping an eye on the little two who are home with me).
Now that the skies are getting lighter earlier and the temps (in theory) are climbing, I am back to doing my runs outside. I get up early (how early depends on how many miles I have to get in) and make sure I am home by 6:30-7am, so I can see the kids before they leave at 7:30, do the little girls’ hair, and give everyone a kiss and a hug as they go out the door. This morning I got up at 4:45am to leave at 5:30am and was home by 6:15am after five miles with Jenny. Only one kid was even awake yet when I got back home.
And then I always do my long runs on Sunday mornings. Sunday mornings are my time. Josh is always home on Sunday mornings, the kids sleep later than usual and I can take off on as long of a run as I want by myself or with a friend, and know that when I get home all will be well. I still get up early so I can get back as early as possible, and my time away is minimal.
In life we find time for the things that are important to us. And I am a huge believer that balance in our lives is incredibly important. Running is very important to me. It is one of my priorities. It is never more important than Josh or the kids, but it is important enough that I make time for it almost every day. Running is my way of making myself a priority too.
I know some moms feel guilty about the time that their running takes away from their family. I don't. For one, I have found a way to get it done while having a very minimal impact on my time with Josh and the kids, and it is the only time I take just for myself. And for two, I think that I am setting a good example for my kids by showing them that moms (and dads!) need to take care of themselves too. And I hope that maybe I can inspire some people... heck, if the crazy lady with 12 kids can find time to run everyday, anyone can, right??? :)
In a nutshell, I would say I get my running in by getting up and getting out the door early (usually really, really early). Most days I am back in the door before the kids’ breakfast... happy, rejuvenated and feeling that awesome feeling that comes after a run, ready to devote the rest of my day to taking care of my family and doing my work with a smile on because I have started my day by taking care of myself and doing something I love.