Mother Runner: Balancing Motherhood and Running

When it comes to motherhood and running it can be hard to find a balance that works. Some may even say there really isn’t a balance, its just a matter of picking which one is more important that day.

But I disagree. Don’t get me wrong, sure its about priorities and the needs of ourselves versus our little people; and I’m pretty confident that a mom will choose her child over herself every time. So its not really about which one is more important, it is truly about finding a balance that ensures our obligations as mom, wife, homemaker, cook, and maid, are met while still making running a priority.

And with my simple philosophy that I like to call, The Rule of 5, it is possible to create balance between motherhood and running, and here’s how:

Maximize your mornings. Even if you’re not a morning person, its amazing how much can be accomplished with a very focused 5 minutes first thing in the morning. I do this by first creating a to-do list with only the most important 5 tasks for the day. That’s right only 5! And only for that day. I usually jot this list down in my planner while my coffee is brewing. Sometimes I’ll jot it down at night; find what works best for you. Most mornings my to-do list looks like:

  1. Coffee and Scripture
  2. Laundry
  3. Dishes
  4. Run
  5. Work

I really enjoy waking up and having my own quiet devotional time before my boys wake  up. Once they are awake I take 5 minutes to start a load of laundry, clean up from breakfast (load dishwasher, wipe counter tops, and kitchen table). That’s it just 5 minutes. Then I help my oldest get ready for school and help the toddler get dressed.

I have found that the simple 5 minutes I devout to starting a load of laundry and loading the dishwasher actually saves me time! Keeping up on these 2 household chores prevents either from piling up and getting out of control, which inevitability will require more of my time.

After my mom bus stop duties, I run. This is how I guarantee I get my run in. Right now in this season of life with a toddler, and a very busy police officer husband, most of my runs are with a jogging stroller. For more tips on how to become a morning runner and how to run with a jogging stroller check out these posts!

Motherhood and Running with the jogging stroller by Running With Randi
Balancing Motherhood and Running often looks like a morning jogging stroller run.

Now you may be wondering how the rest of my day looks and how I apply The Rule of 5.

After I run and get home, my toddler gets his screen time. Then I set a timer for 5 minutes. I look to use my oven timer because it beeps, and keeps me off my phone.

Balancing Motherhood and Running 5 minutes at a time
I set my oven timer for 5 minutes of focused housework after my run.

During these 5 minutes I switch the laundry to the dryer, I pick up toys and collect them in a container or make a pile on the couch so I can put them away. Most of the time I have my toddler help me with this.


After toys and other random items are put away, I pick up shoes and clean up the entry way.


I also straighten up the house like couch pillows, ottomans, etc. And when the timer beeps, I’m done.

Motherhood and Running means quick 5 minutes of cleaning up.
A quick 5 minute straightening up of the house after my morning run.

Then I make a great post-run breakfast, usually another cup of coffee and I sit down and begin to work. I usually allocate 60 to 90 minutes to work. And yes, during this time my toddler watches TV and/or independently plays. By now its about 11 am and I have already done all 5 tasks on my to-do list! And since I identified the 5 most important tasks for that day, if I’m able to do anything else, its icing on the cake.

Right about now you may be thinking, “Randi, this is great and all, but I work full time. How can I possibly work, parent, and run?!”

My advice: 5 minutes at a time. Seriously, wake up 5 minutes earlier and use that time to start a load of laundry, load the dishwasher, and wipe down the kitchen counter tops. When you get home from work, take another 5 minutes and put the laundry in the dryer, set a timer for 5 minutes and pick up the house.

If you run in the morning before work, then try doing the 5 minutes in the morning like I do above. If you run when you get home from work, then keep reading 😉 

Okay, I want to elaborate on the to-do list from above. I limit my to-do to 5 tasks because that is do-able. If you make a to-do list of 15 things that need to be done around the house or things for the kids, chances are you’ll skip your run to get those things done. By limiting your daily to-do list to the most important tasks for that day, you keep your attention focused, you increase your chances of actually running, and you don’t burn yourself out. This brings me to my second tip on how to balance motherhood and running.

Choices and Delegate. The best thing about the 5 item to-do list is that you get to decide what gets done and what can wait for another day. So embrace it and feel empowered to recognize that you can vacuum the house on your rest day, and you can play at the park with your toddler next Wednesday when you go for a recovery run with the jogging stroller. Also, delegate the household chores! I am a big fan of everyone in the family helping. My boys help pick up their toys, they deliver their laundry to the laundry room (yes, even the 2 year old), they help sweep after dinner, wipe off the table, and load their dishes in the dishwasher. I’m not here to tell you your kids need to help, but what I am suggesting, is that its impractical to think that you can do everything, so be sure you delegate tasks, so you don’t get overburdened, or sacrifice a run.

And my final point is this, if you really truly are not a morning person, than that is okay. I fully believe that balancing motherhood and running will only work if you find the balance that works best for you!

Maximize your Evenings. So for all my night owls out there, its still possible to apply The Rule of 5 to your routine too. If you run when you get home from work, then you can always start a load of laundry, go run, put laundry in the dryer when you come back, start dinner (highly recommend IP or a crock-pot meal), shower, and while dinner is finishing up, set a timer for 5 minutes and straighten up the house.

My biggest point with this post, is that it is possible, with very short focused pockets of time (5 minutes), to get daily house work done, run, and still be there for your babies to bathe them, snuggle them, and love them. Motherhood isn’t always easy and can be exhausting, but be sure you carve out the time in your daily schedule to go run. It will refresh you, recharge you, and at the very least, give you a break from the 500th demand for a snack or the moodiness from your teenager as she begins to navigate the world on her own.

Run on Mamas!

Mother runners, how do you balance the demands of motherhood and your running?

Are you a morning person or night owl?

Do you run in the morning, or in the evening?


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