Motherhood: Running with kids at home

I’ve started running, something I swore I’d never do. Why? I like the way I feel when I roar back into the house in the morning with the taste of sweat in my mouth, my tank sticking to my back, grit on my face and a blue bandana flopping on my head.

And that it’s a workout I can do with no babysitter needed. Sure, working out with the children underfoot isn’t ideal. But when they’re out of school for the summer, you need to get creative. Here’s a few tips for when you want to get exercise done and over without a lot of pre-planning and babysitter procuring:

First, put the kids in a hypnotic state:
It’s time to relax your rules on Wii playing. I can only run for 30-40 minutes straight. This is barely a good run at Mario Galaxy II. The children will still be arguing over who gets to be Luigi by the time you are done.

Now, where to run that’s close enough you can still be considered legally responsible for your children. To do this, your children must be old enough to know how to use matches and old enough to know not to use matches. This is the golden age, when things are becoming easier. You can trust them just enough to give yourself a little freedom.

There’s really only one choice: Lap your property. You may have a plot of land the size of a checkerboard, but don’t be afraid to branch out slightly and lap your (friendly) neighbors’ yards or your block. Check on the kids every lap.

I’m not quite brave enough to leave them in the car while I run into the grocery store but I’m brave enough to leave them in the house while I run through the woods on a half-mile track mowed down by the four-wheeler.

Safety: The concern here is not the children being left unattended, but the fact that if I fell in the back 40 under two-foot high ferns, it would take some time before the rescue crew arrived. If this happens to you, I urge you to take the time to relax, watch the world go by, nurse your injury and teach them all how much they need you.

Your only wish will be that you were there to hear the moment your husband pieces together that the children have had Pop Tarts for dinner (this won’t set off any alarms at first), that they’ve played Wii for 4 hours (alarms begin to ring, ever so slightly. Still, no reason to panic) and they were in pajamas all day again (no panic here, just sheer annoyance).

But the kicker will be when he opens the cupboard and sees your Chips Ahoy bag is still intact. His alarms will go off loud and aplenty. Once he breaks them free from the face of Wii (costing the rescue another 20 minutes at least), he will gather that you attempted exercise with the children underfoot and that you must be, and have been for hours, lying with a twisted ankle out in the ferns. Or, worse, that you finally made good on your threat to go crazy.

Next up is the attire.
This, my friends, is the reason you should consider exercise even when you feel like a fat maid, bad cook and reckless chauffeur 95% of the time.

Don’t go halfway on this. These exercise nuts wear tight, revealing clothes. Not a chance! you are thinking. Alas, so did I. Until I realized that these clothes do a pretty fair job of holding things still. Plus, the all-important feature of showing off the smallest advance in weight loss.

Go ahead, stand in front of the mirror with a skin-tight tank top and skimpy running shorts and turn away in disgust. After two weeks of running, even desperate little stretches, come back. You will have sweated and cursed and wept enough that you are certain there’s been improvement.

 Why yes, there it is, your belly is flatter, your thighs are smoother and, if you look close enough, your legs have grown longer. Welcome to running, my friends, and welcome to your first taste of the often-touted runner’s high.