Anyone who has read more than a couple of of my blog posts knows that exercise and fitness is very important to me. I run, swim, bike, rollerblade, practice yoga or some combination thereof 5 days a week, with few exceptions. Second only to the my own health and the health of my family, exercise takes priority.  I set my alarm and get up before everyone else. If that doesn’t work, I’ll let Abby and Miles watch 30 minutes of Pocoyo and hop on the elliptical run on the treadmill while they nap. I’ve been known to (and will probably continue to) wake them up a little early, plop them in the jogging stroller with milk and a snack and bring them running with me.

I don’t plan exercise around my life, I plan my life around exercise.

It sounds a little selfish, doesn’t it?

Here’s the thing, though. Exercise is a necessity for me, not just physically, but mentally.

I also work away from home 3 days a week. It was something I chose to continue doing after the twins were born. I like my job and I spent 6 years studying my field. It is important to me that I be able to contribute some financially and I feel like I am helping make a difference. I am a nicer, more sane and happier person when I am able to work.

Still, sometimes I catch myself feeling guilty. Sometimes I feel like I should want to stay home and willingly skip my workout so the twins can sleep an extra half hour. Sometimes I feel like a bad mom when I turn on Pocoyo so I can run out some frustration or kiss them goodbye as I leave for work. Even though I feel like these two things make me a better person and mother, particularly after infertility, I sometimes feel guilty.

Cate Pane recently posted a link to a page on The Science of Raising Happy Kids. It contains a lot of good, interesting information, but one fact in particular stood out to me.

Your (moms) happiness matters.

It says that a moms satisfaction with her life is more important to a young child’s social and emotional skills than her education, her income, whether she has a job and the amount of time the kid spends in childcare.

Last week I read a post in Favorite Run Community that left a bad taste in my mouth. The woman posted about how she sees all of this support to moms who run, even waking their kids to take them along. She disagreed with this mentality and said that if she can’t get someone to watch her kids, she just doesn’t run. Family first. I get up early and sometimes take them with me with the hopes they pick up the same habit (of course, if they are ill or truly need me, I will stay home). The post left a bad taste in my mouth because I thought that doing something to keep myself sane and demonstrating a healthy habit was setting a positive example. I thought doing things to ensure my own happiness WAS, at least in some ways, putting my family first.

You know the saying, and apparently its more true than we realize – if mom isn’t happy, no one is happy.

Or at least if mom is happy, her kids will be happier.

Take care of yourselves, moms.