One of the most significant life changing moments for me was when I became a mom. The added responsibility of taking care of another human being has been extremely overwhelming, and the sacrifices along the way have been endless.
The days of just worrying about myself have come and gone. Today it is all about balance and finding that happy medium, which does exist ... if you let it.
It wasn’t until I got into a rhythm as a mom when the wheels in my head started turning. When will I find time for me? Will I ever have the time to get back into marathons or triathlons? Am I ever going to be the same athlete I used to be? Is my body ruined? Will it make me a bad mom if I take time away from my child to train long hours?
The STRUGGLE in my head was, and still is, REAL!
Why do we immediately think that being a mom means we can no longer have time for ourselves to do the things we love? We may have added responsibilities and need to sacrifice a bit more, but we can still have time for ourselves too. I have had my share of ups and downs and still struggle with a bit of guilt. I don’t know if I will ever be 100% guilt free, but I can say I have found my happy place again. Here are some thoughts and lessons learned along the way.
You are not a bad Mom if you take time for you
You can really beat yourself up by overthinking this one because of the guilt factor. Everyone should be able to spend their free time doing what they enjoy, including YOU! You need to be confident in the decision you make to spend your free time training for a marathon, half marathon, triathlon, or whatever sporting event strikes your fancy. If you allow yourself to spend some time doing what you love, it will have a positive impact on everyone around you. You are actually a better mom if you take time for you!
Get the buy-in and support from those around you
Don’t be afraid to share your passions and goals with your significant other and family. Talk about what it means for them too and not just you. What you do impacts the family as a whole. Don’t be afraid to ask for help in order to carve out the time that is needed. Depending on your situation that may mean leaning a bit more on your significant other, calling on local family, or investing in childcare. If you take the time to communicate and talk it through from A to Z, it will give you that extra boost of confidence to go after what it is you are passionate about.
Nail down your schedule
Time management is a must when you are trying to juggle a family schedule and training schedule. You need to understand what the family schedule looks like before you have an idea of what you can realistically put on your personal calendar. Determine how many weekly hours you can commit and then start building your season. Don’t forget to allow for down time too. There is nothing worse than biting off more than you can chew. We know that this will only result in frustration, disappointment and added stress. It is all about making time for realistic goals that are attainable.
Be prepared for the unexpected
No matter how on top of your schedule you are, or how perfectly you have structured your day, something unexpected may derail you. You are going to have to be OK with giving up that workout or whatever you may have had on your schedule. When you are a Mom life happens and sometimes you just have to roll with it. The real challenge is to stay cool and don’t let it impact everything and everyone around you.
You may never be the athlete you used to be
This is the hardest reality to grasp for us moms who used to be hardcore endurance athletes. You take a significant amount of time off and then you want to come back as the old you. Not so fast ... it is going to take a lot of time (that you may not have to give) and a lot of patience. We need to accept that maybe we now do what we enjoy, not to be the best, but to focus on ourselves. Don’t put the unnecessary pressure on yourself to be the old you. Come into it as the new you and readjust the expectations you put on yourself.
Don’t worry about what others may think
What matters most is that you and your family are excited for what lies ahead. A lot of times we think that others are looking at us as if we are crazy. They very well may be because the thought of a marathon or triathlon, for some, is just totally insane. Do your best to tune out the negative comments or reactions from others. Unless the other person is/was athletic, shares the same passion, or is in your family and friend circle, they may just never get it ... and it’s OK!
We all come to a point in our lives when we have to readjust our priorities
For most of us women, that time is when we become a mom. We need to remember that having that title does not mean we are now limited and can only do for others; we must do for ourselves. Balance is key as it has an extremely positive impact on all those around us. Carving out time for ourselves makes us better moms. Don’t be afraid to get out there and find the time to do what you LOVE the most! So the next time you cross that finish line, say to yourself… I AM A MOM and I DID IT!
Michelle Fisher is a coach with QT2 Systems (www.qt2systems.com) and The Run Formula (www.therunformula.com), and is currently a member of the QT2 Advanced Triathlon Team. She became hooked on endurance sports after completing the 2003 Boston Marathon. Throughout her athletic career, she competed in countless road races, marathons and short and long course triathlons, including two consecutive Ironman World Championships. Michelle’s personal bests include a Boston Marathon time of 3:19, Half Marathon (1:28:14), Sprint (57:26), Olympic (2:24:35), Ironman 70.3 (4:45:47), and Ironman (10:24:56).
Michelle has an extreme passion for endurance sports and has found her racing experiences and sports knowledge have given her the tools needed to empower her athletes to train and race to their potential. As a coach she enjoys working with all levels of athletes and strives to make a positive impact when it comes to their physical and mental health. Michelle has found with hard work, determination and the right training program, one can make tremendous strides in endurance sports.