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Parent Guilt: The Struggle is Real

Hello, my name is Shelby and I suffer from parent guilt

Long story short I had gotten healthy so I could one day be a mom that ran around and chased her kid, didn’t have to sit out of fun things, and raised my kid with a healthy mindset and lifestyle. But then after having her I’d feel so guilty taking the time to go on my runs or do my strength training WHY?!? Because I am painfully aware that these times, moments and little hugs are fleeting. Getting reminded by strangers or even people you know doesn’t make it any easier to overcome.

Parent guilt is basically the diet shaming equivalent of the parenting world.

We are told that we need to fill our cups up first but then get chastised for doing so and are told we are neglecting our duties. We are told to work full time but then are raked over the coals for putting kids in daycare. We are told to be stay at home parents but then are made to feel less than for needing a break since “all we do is stay home all day”

I wake up at 4am now to do my “extras”. Cross training, strength training and squeeze in extra time for work that I can’t do throughout the day. We are a no nap household (not by choice) so once we are up in the morning it’s all hands on deck until bed time. Runs are primarily with the stroller unless its my husbands day off (Shout out your him!) I can get some emails done, some Instagram marketing, etc done during the day but it’s between everything else that needs to be done Like keeping the tiny human happy and fed. Then it’s bed routine, shove some dinner in my face, try to get some more work done and get to bed at a decent hour. Even with being home with my kid 24/7 I STILL struggle with the guilt. How do working parents even stand a chance? Let alone adding in doing something for ourselves—-there just isn’t enough time.

For extra context I’m finishing editing this blog post as I stay quiet as a mouse waiting for her to fall asleep in the next room so I don’t risk waking her up leaving to go for my run that I’ve tried going for the entire day when she had ZERO interest in it. Plus the other half of this post was edited while cross training on my bike trainer. Parent Guilt Level 100

I asked my husband if he experiences it as well. He says he absolutely does but the key difference between us is the guilt won’t stop him from doing it. He is able to rationalize clearly that he needs his time in order to be a more productive parent. For him fishing, golfing, camping etc. is his form of running—his form of self care. For me even though I know it, I don't take my own advice.

I reached out to Jamal @jamaldavis718 to get another perspective about taking time to train (bike, run, etc) and see if he experiences guilt from taking that time for it. He was kind enough to not only share his thoughts but also note about his wife as well from a perspective I hadn’t considered :

“Honestly I don’t feel guilt about it. My wife and I are former college athletes so it’s ingrained in us and we know it makes us happy. I would say that I feel a longing to be with him sometimes when on long runs. Like gah I just want to be home.”

I loved how he put that he could sometimes feel a longing to be with his son. I think a lot of parents can relate to that. We can long for time to ourselves but at the same time long to be back with them. Isn’t parenthood fun?!?

Not to exclude the dads I swear! But also brings to light how we need to share the equality to all PARENTS regardless of gender....Another post for another day I suppose....

I also reached out to Amy @therunningdietican to see if she’s struggled with the guilt of training and being a parent. She shared something that really hit home with me:

“I remember the first time I left the house to go for a run after having a baby. I was excited, scared, and the other emotion that I wasn’t expecting: GUILT. Parent guilt is real and something that isn’t talked a lot about after having a baby. People warn you about lack of sleep, being a team with your significant other, but I don’t remember anyone telling me you will feel guilty for fulfilling your basic needs.

Like Amy said, I don't remember talking to anyone about this when I was pregnant. I get that people don't want to scare you but why can't we share a gentle "There are going to be times that you may not want to put yourself first but you need to and know that it’s normal. If you ever need to vent or talk through those feelings I am here for you".

I’ll admit, there have been times I’ve skipped my run/workout because I just couldn’t handle the guilt (both self inflicted and outward sources). Especially on long runs that are 1+ hours it’s so hard to justify being gone for so long for something that is purely for ME. Guilt, like life, doesn’t stay the same. Amy said her guilt shifted from going to her run to working and having KJ in daycare. I had messaged Amy when she had shared about the daycare guilt and it helped give inspiration for this entire post. Then a while later I saw this on an IG story:

I feel like this puts it the best it could be put. Working is hard, parenting is hard, it’s ALL HARD!

To better help other parents struggling with guilt I will admit the following:

  • While it’s adorable my little one likes to run, it’s exhausting to run with a stroller.

  • I have mom guilt probably 95% of the time. Regardless of what I’m doing, I feel like I should be with my kid.

  • Even though I’m home with my little one all the time it doesn’t help my guilt. If anything I feel like it makes it harder because I know so many wish they could be home with their kids so I feel bad taking time away from that privilege to do something for ME.

When the mom guilt hits me the hardest I try repeating these thoughts to myself :

  • By taking some time for myself I’m showing my kid that it’s ok to do things for yourself

  • Taking time for myself doesn't make me less of a parent

  • If I want to show a healthy example I have to let my kid see me making my own health a priority

We all acknowledge that our little one seeing us run, workout and live an active balance lifestyle is important. But we need to start allowing ourselves to ACCEPT it and help each other fight against the urge to feel guilty doing things. I can only hope by pushing through my guilt of taking time for myself I in turn my internal struggle into something productive for my daughter to not feel the battle I and don’t many others feel.

Final note, Amy and I both shared the same sentiment that our husbands encourage us to go for a run which helps A TON! We are happier afterwards and I think we can all agree we want that for our significant others! Shout out to all the partners out there pushing their wife/husband out the door!!

Do you have parent guilt? What do you tell yourself?

In the hopes of further shedding some extra light on this topic from both a working mom and stay at home mom perspective, Amy and I are going to be doing an Instagram Live all about parent guilt at 8pm EST March 18th and want to hear from you!!! Head over to our IG's HERE and HERE to share some of your thought, tips and tricks!

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