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Baby Matters

My Workout Guilt

March 1st, 2016

By Delaine Dew

Do you ever feel as though there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done that you wanted to?  Of course you do – you are a parent.  

Particularly, for us working parents, working full time as well as being a full time parent can really stretch you thin, and leave you completely exhausted at the end of the day.  If you are lucky, your work week ends on Friday and you have two blissful back-to-back days with your child before returning to work on Monday.  I am one of those moms – I have a full time job as a lawyer and a full time job as a mom to my wonderful 2 ½ year old daughter and my weekends are cherished times spent with her.  It is hard though – I’m exhausted most days and I often feel guilty of either not spending enough time with my daughter or not spending enough time on myself.  The elusive work/life balance sometimes feels completely unattainable and living a healthy, well-rounded lifestyle can appear so very far away.

Prior to becoming a mom, which I firmly believe is the BEST job in the world, I used to work out almost every day of the week, and regularly train for road races and half marathons.  It would be nothing for me to crawl out of bed on a Saturday morning and attend a spin class, stick around after and do some free weights, and have a leisurely shower at home and be ready to conquer the day at 11:30a.m.  After coming home from work on a given day, I could lace up my running shoes and head out the door for a nice 10km run before dinner, or drop by the gym on the my home from work.

Post-baby though, it’s so much harder to find extra time to work out and if I do work out during non-working hours when my little girl is awake and ready to play, I feel guilty because the time I spent at spin class or tabata should have been spent with my daughter – after all, I don’t have the ability to be with her Monday through Friday except for a brief time before I leave for work shortly after 7 a.m., and when I get home from work until her bedtime at 6:30 p.m.  Now I can only seem to fit in workout classes during lunch time or in the evenings after my daughter is asleep (and the days I am not completely drained from work so much so that my body practically refuses to do anything other than relax on the couch), and I have given up on regular weekend workouts.  After all, weekends are precious and adventure time with my little girl starts early on Saturday and Sunday mornings – and that’s what I live for.

Thus, I have drastically modified my workout frequency and even my definition of working out has changed post-baby.  I try not to feel guilty about missing a workout class in the evening when I have had a long day at work, or completely avoiding working out on weekends so that I can spend more time with my daughter during those two glorious days.  I used to define a workout as a high intensity, heart pumping, and sweat inducing activity where you can just feel the calories burning up.  Now though, I have broadened that definition to encompass activities with less intensity, such as tobogganing, skating, going for winter nature walks, dancing around the house with a little girl who pretends to be Clara from the Nutcracker, climbing on play structures, and making snow angels in the front yard, and I couldn’t be happier.  The spring brings a host of new activities for us, like bike riding and weekend runs in the Chariot – which I refuse to do in the winter because I am too much of a fair weather runner - and long strolls through Fort Edmonton, quite possibly our favourite place in Edmonton during the spring and summer.

Sometimes I still feel guilty though, guilty for not attending that Saturday morning spin class I used to be a regular at, or guilty for not devising some at-home workout plan I can complete while my daughter plays beside me or in the next room.  But I think I’m going to quit being so hard on myself and focus instead on the memories I am making with my child instead of the calories I am not burning.  And if you find that any of this rings true for you too, I encourage you to give yourself a break as well.

At least at this point in my daughter’s life, I want her to have great memories of us going on weekend adventures and having fun together, especially given that fact that I work Monday to Friday and highly value my weekend family time.  For the time being, I’m not going to beat myself up about not being as “fit” as I was pre-baby and not concern myself over how I will seemingly never be able to run a 1:43 half marathon ever again, and focus more on the fun (lower intensity) “workout” activities I am able to do with my precious girl and soak up as much non-work time with her as possible.  As a busy parent, there just are not enough minutes in the day to waste feeling guilty about not getting in a workout – especially when you are asked to play Barbies in the Frozen Castle early on a Saturday morning – how could anyone say no to that?

Delaine is a mom to a beautiful little girl, and she’s a  wife and lawyer in Edmonton. She enjoys running, reading, watching bad TV with her husband and most importantly, being a mom. Delaine recently started a blog “Moms of 1” ( with a friend of hers and is having fun blogging and connecting with other moms.


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