winter running with kids – when the stroller isn’t an option

There is nothing easy about making the time to fit your runs in when you are a mother.  This holds true for moms who work outside the home, moms who work from home, and moms like me who stay at home with their kids.  This holds true for moms who work part-time jobs or full-time jobs.

Making the time to run is difficult, but we do it because it makes us better mothers.  We do it because it makes us feel good and it makes us stronger, inside and out.  We do it because it matters.  Because we matter.

But how do we do it?  How do we make it work when it’s 30 degrees and raining outside, and we have a two year old toddling all over the house, who refuses to nap?  How do we keep our running a priority when we have a sick child who is home from school for the third day in a row and we feel like we are going to lose our minds if we aren’t able to take just a little bit of time for ourselves?

We have to get creative.  Be resourceful.  We have to adapt.  And truth be told, sometimes we simply have to accept the fact that we aren’t going to get to run today, despite our best efforts and intentions.  It happens, and that’s ok.

When my two older kids were babies, I basically gave up my exercise routine in the winter months, and fought depression as a result.  Now that they are older (6 and 5 years old) and I have an 11 month old baby as well, I am wiser – and I have learned that I don’t have to surrender to Old Man Winter and succumb to depression.

I have learned that there are ways to fit my runs in when the temperatures are too cold for a stroller run.  Most winter days I will just run on my home treadmill while the baby naps, but that isn’t always possible.  Sometimes he won’t nap.  Sometimes my kids are home from school because they’re sick or it is a holiday or a snow day.  That doesn’t have to mean that mama misses her run (though of course, sometimes it does).

Here are some of the ways that you can get creative on those days when you think you may just have to give up on the idea of getting to run:

* Run late.  Invest in some great cold weather running gear and a headlamp and head out in the evening after your husband gets home from work.  It is invigorating!  Come home to a warm fire in the fireplace and snuggle up with your foam roller and some hot cocoa when you are done.

* Run early.  Get your run done at sunrise.  It is hard to get yourself out of bed at that hour – but you won’t regret it, I promise.  Watching the sun come up on a cold, quiet winter morning is one of the most beautiful and peaceful experiences and a fantastic way to greet the day.  You will come home to your family feeling ready to face the day.

* Join a gym that offers childcare and family memberships.  My kids love love love going to the gym.  (It wasn’t always the case, by the way.  It took a while for my son Will to warm up to it but now he is a big fan.)  Many days they will ask me if we can please go to the gym – so they can see their buddies and play with all the cool stuff there.  Baby Gus started going when he was three months old and he acts like he owns the place.  We go 2-3 days a week in the winter and it is a really nice, guilt-free way for me to get my exercise in when I can’t push the boys in the stroller or when everyone is home from school on a cold winter day.

* Swap with a friend.  You are not the only one in your world who struggles to make the time for exercise, or for a shower, or for a quiet moment to collect your thoughts and clear your head.  All moms go through this, I am sure.  Talk with your friends about it and help each other out.  That is what friends are for – love, support, understanding, encouragement.  Tomorrow morning I am watching my neighbor’s two year old so she can go for a run.  She will do the same thing for me one day next week.  I’m so excited and grateful that we have one another to lean on, and I know she is too.  Nobody understands a mom who needs time for herself better than another mom who needs time for herself.  Reach out and you will be amazed.  Even if you don’t have friends who “get” your running – they will understand the need for time on your own and they will appreciate you wanting to reciprocate so they can have time to do something they love or need more of in their lives.

How do you make time to run with kids in the winter?  Do you have more ideas to add to this list?

8 thoughts on “winter running with kids – when the stroller isn’t an option

  1. I don't have anything to add, but this is what I needed to hear!! All too often the days get crazy busy and I feel defeated so easily… I need to work on this – number 2 will be here in May and I have GOT to get it together!

  2. I am so fortunate in that I live in a *perfect* winter weather climate. However, talk to me in the summer. It's either run early or no run. And by early, I mean sometimes as early as 4:30 am. Yikes.

  3. Good for you for figuring out how to make it work. It CAN be done! I have to say also that for anyone w/ young ones–it will get easier! I am so lucky now to have two kids in school and flexibility in my schedule. Before you know it, you'll be there too!

  4. Well stated, I am fortunate to have a treadmill too. But it tends to collect dust as I am happiest getting outside. My husband works early so I am usually an evening runner. I love it. If I'm lucky I catch the sunset. I've fine tuned my neighborhood routes to 2-4-6 miles (not the most exciting but it gets the work done). As my kids got older they started to bike with me. Some runs I insist on doing alone (mommy therapy) but it is a treat to run my semi-longs with my son hup hupping me along.

  5. This is all great advice. Getting up early and getting my kids used to the gym nursery (they too LOVE it–have been going since they were 18 months old and dropped the a.m. nap) are the two I use. I do wish I had a treadmill at home, but not having it has helped me be creative and more determined to establish my early a.m. routine.

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