Dear People Who Work Out With Their Small Children, Can You Stop?

We’ve all seen the “adorable” photos of fit moms and celebrities working out with their kids on social media. I’ll admit these images are sometimes sweet and often envy-inducing (who wouldn’t want Carrie Underwood’s legs or even her home gym?), but when I see a mama getting her sweat on with her little one by her side, all I can think is, “Ugh, WHY?”

Here’s the thing: like most moms of small children, I rarely do anything alone, including going to the bathroom, showering, dressing, and sleeping. .. except when I work out.

I’ve claimed this time as mine, and I’m not giving it back. I also don’t want my kids to be passionate about squats and weights when what they should be focusing on is running around and playing.

Since I refuse to work out with my kids anywhere near me, I get up hours earlier than I’d like to so I can fit in fitness before the sun – and my little sunshines – rise. It sucks getting up when all I want to do is slam the snooze button, but I never give in to the urge. My workout time is the only time during my day that I’m by myself, and I friggin’ love every last second of it.

My workout time is the only time during my day that I’m by myself, and I friggin’ love every last second of it.

During those 20 or 30 minutes, I don’t have to answer questions about what snack someone can eat while I flow through a yoga session. I’m not forced to hit “pause” halfway through a cardio push because someone pooped. I’m not mildly engaged in my workout while also trying to read a book about how to catch a leprechaun to my preschooler. Nope. I’m focused on me. And I know my family is better off for my “selfishness.” Moments after my sweat session ends, it’s back to them, them, them, and since I’ve had my time, I’m more than happy to go there.

Now, I get that for some moms, working out alone isn’t feasible. Working out at all is so hard, especially if you’re a mom, so I’m not here to knock you off your plank. And as kids get older and more into sports, working out can become a passion of theirs that you two can share together. When your child sees you get excited about fitness, it can show them how important it is to focus on their own health.

I hear you, and I support that. But moms, they don’t need to be your “little workout buddy” to get excited about health. Show them a video of a ninja obstacle course they can re-create in the backyard or organize a neighborhood relay race. That way, you get to have something just for you and your kids won’t worry about doing a burpee before they’re 5.

Remind yourself that you’ll be a happier, more patient, and less frazzled mom if you put your babes in the childcare room at the gym for 30 minutes so they can actually play and you can climb, Spin, or run all by your damn self. Or join me at the crack of dawn in your own living room and revel in the silence and space of an uninterrupted home workout, even if it means your Instagram pic of your sweat session won’t be quite as “cute.”

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