So you’re a runner and you’re a mom. These two must be in conflict, right? (or, you’re a writer with a day on the blog to fill and listicles tend to be easy…)

Moms don’t have time to run or rather, moms shouldn’t have time to run. Taking time for ourselves to run (or do yoga or read a book or have coffee with a friend) means we are being selfish, neglecting our children, avoiding problems, dumping childcare on partners or baby-sitters. Right?

Wrong. Moms need this time to ourselves as much as ever.

running with kids

Running can make us better moms. Thirty minutes all to ourselves. No constant barrage of questions, no diapers, no sippy cups, no teenage math homework or broken hearts to wrestle through.

The best advice I have for running moms is to view running as a gift you give your kids. It will make you healthier and more energetic to face the daily parenting tasks. It will give you mental quiet and space so you can return refreshed and ready to engage.

But, as with almost everything in life, these two things, motherhood and running, often overlap. Here are some ways to involve your kids in your sport.

Let them pick out your running outfit. So you end up in an orange-striped shirt and purple polka dot shorts and green socks with a dandelion tucked into your barrette but at least your family can spot you easily during a race.

Tell them what you saw on your route. While they eat breakfast and you stretch or chug a smoothie, describe the neighborhood. The wild parrots in the tree, the funny comment from a neighbor you passed, the color of the sunrise.

Take them along. Stroller for infants and toddlers, a few blocks of jogging for middle-aged kids, 5k with older kids. Just don’t do this too often of you’ll find yourself back in the realm of diapers and sippy cups, this time on the run and it won’t be the refreshment you crave.

Talk about your race goals and tie them into one of their goals. Maybe you want to race a 25:00 5k and your 12-year old wants to memorize a challenging piano piece or wants to hit a homerun. Inspire each other and encourage each other to press on when tempted to give up or it feels too hard.

Ask them for accountability checks. What kid doesn’t want to harp on his mom about something? We’re always nagging about homework and making beds. Let them get on you about fitting in the run or hitting that pace goal.

Running doesn’t have to be separate from our role as moms, it can become part of who our mothering and can make us even better.

Moms, how do you make running work?