Sydney here. Frequent guest star on Tri Like Mary and first time blogger!
Mary recently asked me to write a post that addresses the topic of “balance”. I asked her - what the hell do I know about balance?! I feel like I am in a constant struggle to reconcile and have time for the various roles in my world: mom to 2 young girls, wife, full-time worker, daughter/sister/friend, and back-of-the-pack (hoping to be “middle”) triathlete. She suggested that the post need not be about how I have achieved balance, but how I try to. Well OK, here goes - chronicles on my attempts to be superwoman!
It Takes a Village
Like Mary, I am training for my first 70.3 distance triathlon and have embarked on an official training plan, with a real coach. (I often feel the need to justify my need to have a “coach”, but if you are reading this blog, you probably already get it!) The training commitment for this little endeavor is pretty significant. Fortunately, I have a wonderful husband (Andy - who also pops up on this blog from time to time), who has athletic interests of his own and understands my desire to run/bike/swim. Well, mostly he gets the need to run, tolerates the bike, and is ambivalent about the swim since I don’t try to make him do it. :-) Andy is also currently training for his first marathon after running for several years, so our day-to-day household planning always includes the question - “when do you need to workout?” Exercise is something we have integrated into our lives and expect to do almost every day, the same way we need to grocery shop, pay bills, and sleep. We even use running or cycling as a mode of transportation to get somewhere when the day is really hectic and a workout just doesn’t fit. We also keep each other accountable, giving encouragement (ok, sometimes nagging) to do a workout that we may be feeling lazy about. I have watched weightloss “reality” shows before (of the Canadian variety!) where the spouse is not supportive and sometimes a complete sabotageur. And every time, I have to give mad props to Andy for supporting my endeavors.
That being said, it is simply unrealistic for me to workout every evening and during the main part of the day during the weekends. I would also like to spend some time with said husband, and my girls aged 6 and 4! That’s where my super awesome friends come in - I’m looking at you Mary! During the week, the majority of my workouts must be done at a god awful hour of the morning so that I can be home by about 7am to get the kids ready for school (and me for work), or at night after the girls are in bed. I think it’s common knowledge that if you have a workout partner, you are more likely to stick with it, and I have to admit that knowing Mary is waiting to meet me for a run at 6am (or earlier!) is a huge motivator to get out of bed. Since Mary could really be doing these runs later in the morning (she starts work later than me), or right after work, she could be giving me the big F-You to a 6am start. But she doesn’t. And I am majorly appreciative of that. The number of times she has said “I can do it whenever it works for you, I know your schedule is tighter than mine” is too many to count. This is a major contributor to my ongoing ability to “tri”.
I am fortunate to still live in the city where I grew up, with my & and Andy’s parents both living only about 3km away. Both sets of parents are extremely supportive and willing to watch the kids for us to participate in athletic pursuits. This means so much, because we can sign up for the same events (Andy does the “Du”) and on occasion, train together. I also have a really cool and supportive boss, who is okay with me coming in 10 minutes late because of an early morning workout that ran long (she knows I will make up the time of course!)
Drop It Like It’s Hot
I really have to prioritize what is important to me and my family, and forget about all other chores, hobbies, and commitments. There’s a reason I am not a regular blogger. No extra time! :-) Homemade meals and baked goods are important, and I will almost always bust my hump to get this stuff done. Folding laundry and putting away clothes at the end of the day - meh, not so much. Who cares if our bedrooms are a little untidy and I have to fish some (clean) clothes from a laundry basket to dress the kids in the morning? There may be too many toys, crafts, and hair accessories littering my house, but I try not to sweat the small stuff. Sure, my lawn & gardens could be more tidy and lush, but as long as my house doesn’t look abandoned, I’m happy! :-) And of course, from time to time, there may be a workout that just doesn’t get done.
Walking the Tightrope
Finding balance, for me, means incorporating all the things that are important into my life and not pursuing one element exclusively at the expense of all others. While I want my girls to be healthy and fit, I also don’t want them to think that working out is the only way to have fun or spend your time. Sometimes cuddling on the couch with your loved ones is just as important in a complete life. I don’t want my kids to remember me as always out of the house for a workout or an event. I want them to remember me as fit and strong, as well as lots of fun and there for them. Despite my hectic schedule and sometimes being tired after a long or hard workout, I try not to let that impact my ability to take the girls places and participate in their lives. From time to time I do succumb to “mom guilt” and worry I am not doing that enough, but then again, if I didn’t worry about that, it would likely be because I am completely unbalanced!
So, that’s 2 cents from me about how one busy mom tries to find balance in the “life of tri”. Maybe I will check back in on this topic in a few years when my kids start having even busier lives of their own....agh! Wish me luck!