One of the most important concepts in my life right now is the concept of balance. Without the ability to balance all my life’s priorities on a daily basis I would not be where I am in my life right now—a successful professional triathlete, proud mother of two, and happily married spouse. When I decided to turn pro, I realized that it is a full time lifestyle commitment to be successful. Already having two kids, I knew this would be very hard to accomplish. I want to be a stay at home mom and spend as much time as I can with my kids before they head off to Kindergarten. I also want to train and race at my highest potential. Finding balance between these monumental goals is a challenge.
When racing, every second counts. When balancing motherhood and training, every minute in the day counts. I had never been a ‘morning’ person until I became a mother. Early on I realized how much can be accomplished before the kids wake up! For example, I teach a 6am spin class 4 days per week, which allows me to get in 4 solid hours on the bike each week, while my husband is at home and the kids are still sleeping. Then when I get home from class, I quickly shower and change, make breakfast for the family, pack lunches, get everyone ready for the day, and head out the door (usually with wet hair) to either pre-school or the gym. I typically wear workout clothing, and have a gear bag packed for a swim or run. The gym I chose to join has a great childcare the kids enjoy, and it allows me to swim indoors and run intervals on the treadmill year round.
One day a week, I get help from either a babysitter or my mom so I can complete a bike/run brick. Whereas some moms might use babysitter time so they can go on a peaceful shopping/errands excursion, I always make the most of babysitter help by using that time for training. This means I’m often (always!) that mom with screaming kids riding in the shopping cart, reaching out for every last item on the shelves. Finding balance often means making sacrifices. A peaceful trip to the grocery store is a luxury in this lifestyle, but not a necessity. A quality training session is a necessity.
My afternoons are generally spent playing with the kids, cleaning up after the kids, and trying to enforce a 'quiet time', as both kids recently decided to give up nap time! When the kids become immersed in their own activity, I take care of the administrative functions of my career, most of which I handle on the computer. I also use this time to knock out household chores and try to get ahead of the packing and planning for the next day.
I schedule my long rides and runs in during the weekends. I couldn’t do this without the help of my husband. He makes a lot of sacrifices to support my goals, but they don’t go unreciprocated… again, that word, “balance”. He gets to spend time with the kids while I train, and we make sure he gets time to pursue his own hobbies and maintain his own state of balance.
In the evening I make dinner, so we can sit down as a family and spend time together over a meal. This doesn’t always equate to a peaceful meal, given the age of our kids right now, but I think it’s important for us to be together as a family for this part of the day. After the kids go to bed (no naps=early bedtime!), I try to wind down and relax, which I believe is a critical piece to achieving balance as well. I also go to bed around 9 every night, so I can wake up feeling fresh and energized to do it all again.
With the right priorities, a few sacrifices where appropriate, and a great supporting cast in my husband and family, I feel like I’m living a life that is both balanced and fulfilling in every way possible. I’m looking forward to a very busy and successful year in 2013. Please visit my website in the coming weeks as I will soon ironing out the details of my 2013 race schedule.