Training for a triathlon is hard. Okay, you already know that. Now, imagine it with a school-aged child who is starting to have their own life.
Once your child hits kindergarten and elementary school, the weekend activities get crazy. So many birthday parties, school activities, Sunday School, and sports. Kids start to explore lots of different activities to see what is a natural fit for them. Will they love swimming, soccer, dancing, or a combination of them all? Their friends are Doing Tai Chi, so they want to add Tai Chi. They are starting in Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and other activities and the parent participation is huge.
As a parent, we want to be involved and engaged in our childrens’ lives, but there is only so much time we have to spare. Now, add a daily workout or two and a long weekend ride, not to mention the races. CRAZY. How do you make it all work?
You don’t want them missing things because of you and you don’t want to miss their activities, but you don’t want to miss your trainings or racing either. Everyone talks about it coming down to a balance. And it does…a balance of family time and working together to make it all work.
We found that making time for all the needs of your family and training was made easier with four simple tricks that kept everyone happy.
Make your training fit into your family’s life.
As with all other aspects in the life of a triathlon family, communication is key. It requires that you work together with your family to assure that your training fits into the family schedule. We sat down each Sunday to talk about the upcoming week. When our kids were little, we both worked outside of the home and my triathlete traveled a lot during the week, so we had those added pressures. We looked at the upcoming week and what we had on our schedules and what the kids had, then made a plan for what worked best for everyone.
It was not all about getting up and getting the bike ride in first thing in the morning. Often we planned his long bike rides in the afternoon. We did this because the twins more often then not had birthday parties or other activities in the afternoons that we were not a part of. This made the mornings family time and that was sacred and precious. It didn’t require two of us to drive to birthday parties and run errands.
Be involved in your child’s activities.
Being involved in your child’s activities not only allows you to spend quality time with your child, but also gives you the opportunity to be a good role model. Kids grow up way too fast, so any quality time together is great. There are often times you can assist in an activity that allows you to share your love of triathlons. For example, ask the coach of your child’s sports team if you can lead or participate in warm up.
Ask the boy or girl scout leader if you can lead a bike maintenance session. Another way to be involved is simply by being there. If your child has soccer practice and you are car pooling, bring your running shoes and get your run in while your child is at practice. One piece of advise, remember this is also your child’s time to grow, so do not be one of those overly involved parents. Remember this is your child’s activity, not yours!
Find friends in similar situations and work together.
This was the most important thing to me when the twins were young. Having a few of us who had kids who trained hard and played hard, as well as active kids was not just awesome emotional support, but also invaluable for getting things done. We helped each other during the week when our hubbies went from work to training and we all met for dinner one night a week. We worked on setting up carpools to activities and birthday parties and we covered for each other. There were some parent events that in reality, not every parent needed to be at, so we took turns attending and reported back to each other.
Weekends with training days can get very lonely, but having a good group of friends who understand your lifestyle, just makes everything better!
Make your training and races family fun.
This is the most important thing a triathlete can do. Time is so tight nowadays and there seems to be less and less family time available. So, it’s really imperative to find a way to make training family fun.
As you have heard us say before, make your training space in the house family-friendly. On a cold weekend morning while you are on your trainer, there is nothing better than the kids curled up in their PJs on the floor or couch next to you, so you can enjoy a movie together, share a few giggles, or just get caught up.
We also often sent hubby to the pool first and ended up meeting there and had some great family swim time once he got his swim in. When he had a long ride, like a century ride, we would get in the car and meet him for lunch on his way back and all drive back together. This always took us to new locations and we were able to explore beyond our city.
Race days should be about the whole family. Engage in the other activities available like kids’ zones and/or family fun runs. Many races have family-friendly post-race parties where you can all spend some quality time together. Make it a treat, not a requirement. Both Challenge Family and Rev 3 races focus on making their races family affairs. Ironman races also often offer IronKids races to get them involved.
If I can give you one bit of information, please do not over schedule your child. Over scheduling to keep up with others or be with others does nothing but drive everyone crazy and make them unhappy. Everyone needs their downtime, including triathletes, so be a good role model and take time off to enjoy the family.
HOW DO YOU BALANCE TRAINING AND SCHOOL-AGED CHILDREN?
Sherry is one of the TriWivesClub and LifeDoneWell co-founders and contributes to multiple blogs. She is a former co-owner of the California Apparel News and had a career in the healthcare industry. Her passions include traveling, real food, the environment, and animal rescue/welfare. She lives a healthy lifestyle and has been a vegetarian since 1987. She and her husband are parents to two rescue pups and reside in Connecticut.