Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Balancing Act

One of the things about signing up for an event like a road race or a triathlon is you get put on an email list.  All the races I have ever signed up for have been through so I get a lot of emails from them.  I actually don't mind this because they have some great articles, tips, up coming events, and yes the occasional advertisement.  An email I received last week was triathlon themed and there was an article about balancing life and training.  I immediately click on it because I have been thinking a lot about the topic lately.

Overall it was a good article but there was just this one little thing I had a problem with.  It was this sentence: "I have a full-time job, a husband and a dog that is spoiled rotten and can, for all intents and purposes, be counted as a child."  If you have children you know why I have a problem with this statement.  Unless you are a reeeeeally bad parent, having a dog is nothing like having a child.  Even having three dogs is nothing like having a child (I would know because I have three dogs and children).  Don't get me wrong a dog, especially a spoiled one (or 3), is work.  And when you are childless you do think that having a dog is pretty much the same as having a child.  After all you feed it and love it, right?  Then you have a child and you laugh at that former diluted version of yourself that thought that having kids wouldn't really change your life because after all you've had all this practice with the furry babies.  I am not writing this to berate this women and say she is a total idiot.  Of course not.  She had a lot of really good things to say.  But she was definitely missing the perspective of a (real) parent.  And being a parent and participating in events that take a lot of training present a unique challenge.  How do you balance being a good mom (or dad) and fit in your workouts (especially during two a day times)?

I definitely don't have all the answers but here are some things that have helped me fit in both.
  • I have the mind set that exercising might be taking a few hours away from my kids during the day, but it is hopefully adding years to our time together later in life.
  • When I take a little time for myself I am a happier, calmer mom (and wife).  
  • I found a way for the kids to be taken care of when I need to train.  For some people a spouse is always available.  Or they work out at home when the kids are there or at school.  That just wouldn't work for me.  So I joined a gym with a daycare.  My kids love it and I don't have to work around my husband's crazy work schedule. 
  • I have a husband who can stay with the kids when I do my long runs or ride my bike (things I don't do at the gym).  A relative, friend, or babysitter would work too!  I work my schedule around his availability.
  • I have a rough training schedule but I remain flexible in case things come up.  And things come up all the time!  Illness, appointments, playdates.
And then there are the times you can't balance it all.  And you know what, you just have to make peace with that.  I love to participate in these events but my family's needs come first.  If my kids are sick or my husband needs to work, then I just have to sit on the side lines for a few workouts.  And this week I have been sitting on the sidelines.  I have a sick baby girl and a husband who is working long hours.  So I missed some workouts (including my long run).  I have started to freak out a bit because that May 15th date is looming, but in the long run missing a few runs here or there won't make or break me.  This is just for fun!

So, if I still just had my dog babies I would have been able to make those runs, but then again I wouldn't have anyone to cheer for me at the finish line!

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