Happy Mother’s Day 2021 to all the mothers and guardians out there doing the important work of nurturing, caring for and guiding children. We hope you feel appreciated and valued on this special day. To honor motherhood, we will be highlighting some of the creative and empowering ways women are structuring their family lives in order to make sure everyone receives the time and care they need to thrive, including moms themselves. 

Challenges of Modern Motherhood

Modern moms face many challenges as they attempt to keep themselves and their family healthy, safe and happy. Finding time to prioritize their own mental and physical health is a common concern shared by many mothers, who struggle to create space in their schedules for physical activity, restorative leisure and self-care. Common reasons for not being able to carve out time for themselves include feelings of fatigue and overwhelm, obligations to multiple roles, and lack of social support and childcare. These limitations can be especially daunting for mothers of young children, who consistently get the least amount of time to themselves. The growth in popularity of “intensive parenting” is another factor that can make it difficult for mothers to prioritize time for themselves. Research shows that the challenges of keeping up with this parenting style can compromise the mental health of women, leaving them feeling exhausted, burned out and more prone to depression. 

Creative and empowering leisure

Mothers who are able to make physical activity and active leisure a regular part of their lives do it for reasons that are as varied and unique as they are. Some of the most popular motivations include pleasure, enjoyment, fun, escape, challenge, fitness and increased well-being and peace of mind. Many women also enjoy feeling physically stronger and more capable in their bodies. 

Being able to choose how, when and what activity that they enjoy is a top priority for many active mothers. This freedom of choice in how they spend their self-care time helps to counterbalance the many obligations most moms deal with on a daily basis and keeps their leisure time activities from feeling like another obligation. This is why women who start an exercise program because they feel they should—instead of wanting to for their own reason—are much more likely to drop out. Finding an activity that is engaging and fun is also more likely to lead to flow— a positive state of consciousness associated with peak performance and enjoyment.

Things that tend to demotivate active mothers include physically comparing themselves to others, trying to modify their body with exercise and feeling like they should be exercising in order to live up to an expectation. This Mother’s Day 2021, let go of living up to expectations.

A Place of one’s own existing

For many mothers, exercising in a place that is separate from their work or home life is a key part of the enjoyment and stress relief they get from the activity. Being in a different environment —without the ongoing possibilities of distractions and other obligations—can help them to tune out their to-do lists and focus on themselves. Many women mention these oases of time as key for stress relief and recharging their batteries. Mom’s who participated in a 12-week group exercise class reported that classes helped them to feel more relaxed and in control, less frustrated and worried, more optimistic and improved their coping abilities. Finding a space that feels welcoming and restorative is a key component of many empowered women’s activity plans. 

Reframing motherhood on their own terms

Many women who have successfully created space in their schedules for active leisure mention reconsidering some of the concepts of motherhood that they had been previously influenced by. They report choosing to actively push back on the “superwoman” stereotype, which implies that they should be able to do everything without taking time for themselves. 

Strategies women have successfully employed for taking charge of their leisure lives including cutting back on housekeeping chores, sharing childcare responsibilities with others and adopting an empowered attitude that they deserve to have time and space for themselves. Many women see this time as a vital resource for their self-care, personal growth and reflection. Instead of feeling guilty for taking this time, these empowered moms believed that being physically active allows them to be better mothers, partners and workers. Through the process of taking restorative time, these moms begin to positively link nurturing and caring for themselves with their ability to do the same for their families. This Mother’s Day 2021 can be a great time for reflection and self-care.

Physical activity and active leisure time is important for everyone, especially busy mothers. Active moms get the opportunity to feel good through engaging with their body’s, sweating, flexing their muscles and having fun. As more women carve out this time and space they will enjoy the many benefits including relaxation, clarity, fulfillment, exhilaration and confidence.

If you are a mom, what is your favorite feel good fitness activity?