Balancing taking care of kiddos with a rigorous training routine does have it’s challenges, but with a little planning and creativity, you can definitely manage both. My household has faced this for almost two years through training for several marathons… and now Ironman training (for me) and marathon training (for Michael). I can assure you that it does get easier over time.
This weekend, I had a team run workout, our weekly long run, on Saturday. Michael had a 10k race in Central Park at the same time. It was a prime example of the typical struggles we face as a dual-athlete house.
Historically, I would have done all I could to avoid hiring a sitter, including missing my team run and executing the workout solo, but I’ve slowly come to terms with the fact that we might need to spend some of our hard-earned dollars on childcare. Big goals require big investments of both time and money. I am in the process of making my peace with this.
As I like to remind my SO, hiring a sitter isn’t the ONLY way to manage our childcare needs. We can maximize our time with out kids and still devote ample time to training. In fact, there are 5 options I’ve identified over time for managing childcare and training sessions. I call them SUGAR.
Oh SUGAR, I have to get a workout in this week AND take care of the kids.
Or maybe it’s…
What a SUGARy sweet life – I get to train and take care of my babies!
(I feel both on the regular, just depends on my mood that day.)
Ok, so what is SUGAR? Here goes:
- Establish SHIFTS. If you are a two adult household, this will likely be one of your more frequently used options. 7 times out of 10, we just take turns. I workout while Michael is on kiddo duty and vice versa. When Cal and Elin were babies, I remember heading out for my long runs and feeling REALLY nervous. Certainly, he couldn’t care for them as well as I could. What if they cried the whole time? These feelings are natural in the early days. Bring your phone. Establish ‘the rules’ for when your partner should call you back home (e.g., baby crying for more than 15 mins with no end in sight).
- Stay UNDER YOUR OWN ROOF (home). Stretching, strength and if you have the equipment, indoor running and cycling can all be done under your own roof. While this isn’t always the optimal way to train because conditions differ from racing conditions, it can help get the job done. I’m the queen of squeezing in small strength workouts while I’m hanging out with the kiddos. I also ride the trainer during nap time on the weekends and after they go to bed in the evenings.
- Be choosy about your GYM. Ours has complimentary childcare 3x a week. Some lucky gym-goers have access to this service more regularly. At some gyms, it is a paid add-on. A childcare solution at the gym is a must for me now that I’m a running mama. In fact, I remember chomping at the bit for these guys to turn 6 months old so I could take them to the gym childcare.
- Bring them ALONG! Be creative. Stroller running is an option if you have kids who are small in number and young enough for the stroller. If your kids are older and you can all make a trip to a park with a paved path, for example, they can ride scooters or bikes while you run. If they’re fast enough, you all can ride together! If your kids are old enough and you belong to a community pool, it might also be possible to get in a swim workout while they splash around.
- Call in REINFORCEMENTS. Ask for favors from family or friends. Hire a sitter. Find another mom to look after your kids while you workout and return the favor. It takes a village, right? And this option doesn’t necessarily have to break the bank either.
We found a sitter in our building. She’s in high school and has ample experience with kids. Plus, since she’s so close by, I have no problem asking her to swing by for just an hour or two. We started out paying her $15 and hour, which is fairly standard for NYC, and the last time she watched the kids, she refused payment, saying it was a holiday gift to us! I was texting her to see if she could feed our cat while we were out of town for the holidays and I made a joke about how she had to accept payment this time.
She goes, “ok, but we need to renegotiate rates.”
“I’d like $7 an hour for babysitting. How does that sound?”
What? You’re negotiating your rate DOWN? … “It sounds like a bargain! And way below market. How about $10?”
Needless to say we’ve found a diamond in the rough and I hope she never goes away to college!
Of course, there are moments, despite all the support in the world, where you just need a nap. And that’s ok, too. Athletes need ample recovery for peak performance. Michael and I sometimes take shifts napping on the weekends.
I hope that this model helps you get creative about childcare options while training. Maybe you can sign up for that half marathon that’s been on your mind for a while!
Bring on the SUGAR – establish SHIFTS, stay UNDER YOUR OWN ROOF, be choosy about your GYM, bring them ALONG, call in REINFORCEMENTS. – and reduce your excuses for missing training sessions in 2016!
I’d love to hear from you. What other tactics do YOU use to manage childcare and training?