There is a lot of pressure on moms to be present, focused on, and engaged with our children at all times. This pressure to be “on” often results in “Mommy FOMO,” the fear of missing out on any of your baby or toddler’s life experiences, especially the happy ones. However, this is an unattainable parenting strategy that leads to excessive mom guilt, resentment, and burnout. In theory, never missing out sounds fantastic, but the cost comes at the mother’s personal expense. Self-care is neglected, mental health suffers, and instead of being a caring, responsive parent, we parent reactively or disengage. All in all, it’s hard to be a mom.
The pressure moms face to be constantly present and engaged comes from the call to be mindful that we have all tried to answer, but there is a misunderstanding about what mindfulness actually means. Mindfulness is about being in the present with your newborn baby or your high-spirited toddler, but it is also about learning how to attune to cues from your own body and the environment so that you can objectively respond rather than emotionally react. True mindfulness is an important skill that benefits the mental health of any mother, and it is more important to your baby or toddler’s well-being than simply attempting the impossible task that is Mommy FOMO.
We know that mindfulness is important, but how does a mom develop it? Mindful running is an excellent place to both begin and cultivate that skill. Mindful running is particularly helpful for moms because our go-to is to be attuned to our family’s needs rather than our own. It is difficult to find me time to practice self-care, yet it is important for moms to switch gears to focus internally, in order to develop mindfulness. Running is a relatively quick and individual exercise that requires an active mind-body connection. Said more simply, running naturally gets you in the right “headspace” for a mindfulness practice.
1. Begin Every Run with an Intention
Ask yourself, “What do I hope to get out of this experience today?” Your intention will guide your experience.
2. Practice Non-Judgemental Attention to All 5 Senses
What does it feel like to move? What do you notice around you? What type of thoughts or images are popping into your mind? Be an observer of your own experience. As needed, focus your attention on your breath or cadence. Focusing attention on your five senses will form the mind-body connection needed for mindfulness in all of your daily activities.
3. Choose Your Attitude
Practice self-compassion, channel your inner grit, be your best self. Your attitude will lead to new patterns.
Meet the Authors/Moms
Kjersti and Jannifer have a podcast all about running called A Run With My Sister. If you want to know more about running and mental health visit: kjerstinelson.com or buy Kjersti’s book Running for Mental Health, A How-To Guide.