Tag Archives: balance

The Life of a Working Parent

21 Nov

WorkingParentsChart{source}

The question Travis and I have been asking lately is:

How do other parents do it?

How do other parents find time for everything? Specifically for working dads*, how do they find time to work full-time; take care of the yard, house and cars; exercise; spend time with their kids; help around the house; hang out with friends; and make their marriage a priority?

As a former full-time worker, I know it’s easy to feel that it’s all you do. And I don’t want Travis to feel like he doesn’t have time for anything else.

I also know that it’s a blessing that I get 2 days off that Travis spends working. I can exercise, run errands, do chores, get together with friends and spend quality time with Emma those days. Travis still has to fit all those things in after work and on the weekends.

The problem we run into is that when Travis gets off work, I’m ready for him to spend time either with us as a family or watch Emma so that I can have a break. And I end up feeling frustrated when he spends time on the weekend raking our yard or cleaning our cars, because I view those things as non-essential (though I do understand why Travis thinks they are important). I’ve had to re-prioritize since having Emma and accept that some things just won’t get done at all or as often anymore. So in my mind, anything ‘non-essential’ should not be getting done.

There’s a How I Met Your Mother episode after Lily and Marshall have a baby where they talk about how when they keep score of who’s done what and how much, nobody wins. And I agree that “keeping score” per se, as in “I’ve done more than you!”, isn’t helpful. But there should be a balance. I think one of the secrets of making a marriage work – with or without kids  – is encouraging your spouse to continue doing the things that they enjoy. For me, that’s running, reading and writing. For Travis, it’s hunting, fishing and hockey.

So how do you make that happen? Enter the #1 thing Travis and I have learned since having Emma: the importance of communication. We were married for almost 6 years before Emma came. Yes, we learned about communication during those 6 years, but we also kind of did our own thing most of the time (perhaps a bit too much). A baby has taken communication to a whole new level.

I feel a little like the overbearing wife when I ask Travis to ask me if it’s ok before he goes and does something, leaving me to take care of Emma. But it helps me. Because even if nothing is different than it would be if he just went and did whatever, I feel noticed, cared for and appreciated. Instead of feeling like he has the freedom to do whatever while I’m “stuck” taking care of Emma (which is what it feels like sometimes, not gonna lie!), we decide together that I’ll take care of Emma so that he can get x and y done.

I guess this is especially top of mind for us right now because we are working on getting our house ready to sell, and a lot of the projects that need to be done are Travis’ area of expertise (like drywall, gutter/soffit/fascia repair, caulking, etc.) It’s not that I couldn’t learn to do those things, but someone has to take care of Emma anyway, so it might as well be me.

Honestly, I think it will get better (for me) when I’m no longer breastfeeding. Often, I don’t leave to go do something because Emma will wake up while I’m gone and she’ll want to eat, and it’s just easier to nurse her or take her along than have Travis give her a bottle and I pump later. Regardless, Travis and I are trying to balance the ‘Emma load’ a bit more evenly. We also found a couple at church who we’re going to trade date nights with, so that we can get some time just the two of us. But then, those are just more things to add to an already overflowing plate and it brings me back to the initial question:

How do other parents do it?

So I’d like to hear from all of you parents reading this, whether it’s you who works or your spouse. How do you both balance it all? 

……………………..

* I say working dad because that’s the situation we’re dealing with, but I realize that moms who work full-time deal with this conundrum also, in equal –  if not greater – amount.

Weekly Recap: 7/18 – 7/31

3 Aug

The Jungle That Was Our Lawn

With everything unpacked; laundry washed, folded and put away; our garden harvested (lots of spinach, sage, snap peas and a 16-inch zucchini!); and the dishes done, I feel like have a handle on getting back into the swing of things. I even did a brick last night but it was cut short by acid reflux from eating pasta with spaghetti sauce (a notorious offender).

I don’t know how I manage to do it but I always come back exhausted from vacation (this time, I think the culprit was the short night after a wedding followed by 14 hour car ride.) So catching up on sleep is going to take a little bit longer, since I am staying up later than I would normally to get all the aforementioned tasks accomplished after work.

With that, here is my training recap for the past two weeks:

Monday 7/18: 15.35 mile bike (59:52), 3 mile run (28:38)

I did this brick with Travis at the Rec in the evening and totally rocked the run again! (It’s so much easier to run inside on a flat surface!)

Tuesday: Lower body weights, 2000 yd swim

Another evening workout. Did 2 x 15 of squats, lunges and calf raises, then went to the pool. Did 1 x 200 (fs), 1 x 400 (fs), 1 x 800 (bs), 1 x 400 (fs), 1 x 200 (bs). Right foot started cramping up during 2nd 400.

Wednesday: 6.05 mile run (1:10:29 in 85 degree heat!)

I took my Camelbak and went easy because of the heat. It was cloudy for the first half of the run and rained a bit, which helped a lot. This run was actually mostly pleasant, despite the heat.

Thursday: 14.25 mile bike (1:05:40)

Bike home from work – even though it’s slightly easier than the way there, there are still plenty of hills on the way home. My average heart rate was 152.

Friday: 14.6 mile bike (1:14:42)

Bike back to work – because the afternoon weather has been iffy in Colorado for the past several weeks due to monsoon season but the morning weather is almost 100% nice and sunny, I decided that it was safer to bike home one day and then bike back the next morning, instead of trying to do both in one day. That way, if there was an afternoon storm, I could just drive home instead of biking or having Travis come pick me up.  My average heart rate during this ride was 147. The mileage is a little longer than the ride home because I took a wrong turn. Whoops.

Saturday: Rest day

Sunday: 2.19 mile run (23:14)

I did this run on the county roads near Nevis, MN. While my legs felt great and I was optimistic for something more like 5-6 miles, the deer and horse flies were horrible. I turned around after a mile to see if they would get better the other way but they didn’t, so I called it quits. Boo.

Monday 7/25: Rest day

Tuesday: 10 minutes of waterskiing (arms and upper back!), 500-600 yd swim

My upper back was so sore from waterskiing. Waterskiing has to be one of the best workouts around because it saps your energy in about 15 minutes.

Wednesday: Paddle boating (legs), Canoeing (arms and core)

I noticed that I had more strength for these activities than I have had in the past, so that was exciting.

Yes, that is 4 dogs on a paddle boat…

…and 2 dogs in a canoe. They are seriously attached to us. (More on that in another post.)

Thursday: 15-20 minutes of tubing (arms!)

I told my dad that he had to treat me like a 5-year-old because I didn’t want to get flung off the tube going 25 mph. (You may say that’s part of the fun but after taking a really bad spill a few years ago, I’m so over them.) We found a happy medium going somewhat fast around the turns, but then slowing down for the waves. It’s the combination of going fast and going over waves that’s the doozy (and has the most potential for making you fly off).

Friday: Rest day

Saturday: Rest day

Sunday: Rest day

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

While I enjoyed my week-long break from training, I am excited to get back into it. Last night, I was actually looking forward to a bike ride but then we got ready later than we should have, and the sky was really dark. So we ended up going to the Rec (after I threw a frustration party for 1). I just feel better when I am active.

Something that I’ve been thinking about for several weeks now and has come to a head with returning from vacation is that my time with God has really been taking back seat to training. I’ve thought about switching to night workouts but the weather here is so unreliable and warm at night (whereas it’s pretty dependable and cool in the morning) and the swim team takes up almost the entire pool at night. Plus, I really just enjoy morning workouts more.

But it’s the same thing with time with God — I’ve tried to do it during lunch but can’t concentrate sufficiently. I’ve thought about doing it at night before I go to bed but I have very little motivation and would rather just read an entertaining book instead of think deep thoughts.

These are the options I have:

1)      Get in the Word in the morning and train at night. (lunch doesn’t work because of the heat)

2)      Train in the morning and get in the Word during lunch or at night.

3)      Get in the Word in the morning and break training up into 2-a-days, morning and night.

4)      Get up early to get in the Word and train in the morning before leaving at 8:30 for work.

I am leaning toward getting up earlier to do both in the morning. My wakeup call would be at 4:30. Even as I type this, though, I’m debating. It’s so hard to stick to a bedtime like 8:30 when you have a husband and church activities during the week.

What I would really like is a 5th option: Get in the Word and train in the morning, go into work at 10:30. 🙂

How do you fit your training in among your other priorities?

Which option would you choose, if you were me?

Maintaining the Balance.

14 Jun

When I trained for my first triathlon back in 2009, I went all in. In addition to three workouts of each discipline a week, I was doing two days of full-body strength training. I still remember one night when I did a workout consisting of: 6 mile bike, 2 mile run, 6 mile bike, 2 mile run. While it got me into great shape and I was running faster than ever before, after that race was over, I realized that it was just too much.

I had started making frozen pizzas and macaroni and cheese for dinner, stopped cleaning my house and reading books, and felt exhausted constantly. So I cut my training back to two of each discipline a week and no weight training. It was amazing the difference it made in my energy levels, specifically dropping the weight training. I was slower in my second triathlon but I had recovered my life and my sanity.

So that’s where my philosophy of endurance training comes from. I am not willing to sacrifice my life just to be a little faster. I need time to relax. I want to eat homemade meals. I like a clean house. I want to spend time with my husband and pooches. I need time with God every day.

But I also realize that with a longer distance comes longer training times. If I want to race an Olympic distance, I have to train for one.

Like almost everything in life, there must be a balance.

After thinking about this quite a bit over the past couple of weeks and getting Travis’ blessing for me to spend more hours training (I want to make sure that my training isn’t going to be a sore spot in our marriage), I have decided to commit to training for the longer distance – with a caveat: I have to keep my priorities straight.

And those priorities (in order) are:

1. God (daily time in the Word, prayer)

2. Husband

3. Church / Fellowship

4. Job

5. Taking care of our dogs

6. Taking care of my home (cooking, cleaning, laundry)

7. Triathlon training

At times, I have felt guilty for spending so much time training. Should I spend this time helping others? Being less selfish? Should I give the money that I spend on race fees to homeless kids in Africa? That’s my never-good-enough fears kicking in. But I believe that God has given me my love and passion for endurance sports and that when people do things that they thoroughly enjoy, they showcase the glory of God because they are living according to how they were created. So I do believe that I can glorify God and train for triathlons.

But like I said earlier, there must be a balance. That balance can be summed up in two words: God first.

As I discovered earlier this year when I was unemployed, walking in fellowship with God makes all the other things in life fall into their proper places and gives everything the balance its supposed to have. Since I started back to work full-time, I have been letting training usurp my time with God. And I noticed things unraveling. I was dealing with the same problems I had been dealing with a year ago; struggling with materialism, jealousy, and anger; and feeling far from God.

No more!

I am committing to a daily 30 minutes (at least) with God and if I have to skip a workout to make that happen, so be it. Triathlons are transient; God is eternal.

Practically, I am planning my daily time with God to be in the morning, when I am most alert and in need of a reminder of eternity. I think I will still be able to fit in my whole workout (when I’m just doing one discipline) or part of my workout (when I’m doing more than one) in the morning as well. But I might be switching to night workouts anyway because Travis has agreed to do a triathlon! We haven’t decided on a race yet but it will be in August or September. I’m very excited to be able to share this passion of mine with him and to have a new training partner!

I am also going to start listening to sermons and worship music while I run and bike. I used to do this all the time but lately have been listening to Lady Gaga instead (total extremes, huh?).

I am planning on giving a training update every Monday (so that I don’t inundate this blog with training updates) and while I’m doing that, I’m also going to give a spiritual update. How is my relationship with God? Am I growing in being a servant to others and being a light in the workplace? Or am I sliding easily into worldliness, thinking only of new clothes, fitness goals, and vanity? Working in a secular environment is definitely a challenge – to both keep myself from being pulled into the worldly mentality of expensive things, big houses and nice cars as well as be bold in sharing the truth of the gospel. But I have found that its much easier to rise to that challenge when I’m reminding myself of truth daily by reading the Bible.

So that’s my training (and life) philosophy. We’ll see if I can handle the Olympic time commitment!

The pull of this life

22 Mar

It’s been a LONG time since I updated my blog, an unfortunate side effect of my new job. It’s kept me really busy and I’m enjoying it so far.

But…

It’s kind of bittersweet. Not that leaving Dare 2 Share makes me sad (although it was the day I left), but I’m not as ecstatic about the job as I thought I would be. Deep down, my soul feels wary and disturbed. It feels like I’m living a different life – this wasn’t just switching a job, it’s switching a lifestyle. And I knew that going into this. But I didn’t know it would make me feel so… weird.

Maybe I don’t feel totally pumped about this job because it’s still a job, after all, and not a ticket to paradise.

Part of it also is that I am now salaried and I work from home – 2 factors which make working everyday not only a possibility, but also something that is encouraged (my boss D works 60-70 hours a week). I’ve been averaging something like 45-50 for the 2 weeks I’ve been with YCS. This situation, however, produces guilt in me whenever I am not working, which sucks. I’m sure it’ll get at least a little better as I get settled into this new role and it feels more comfortable. But I was not prepared for that aspect.

The past week or so, I have been good about making time with God and exercise a priority – those are 2 things that I NEED daily or I seriously think I would cease to feel like myself ever. I also need to make time to cook, go on walks, read, and relax – things I really enjoy. If I don’t make time for those things, I think I will end up hating my life and that was most definitely NOT the point of taking this new job.

All that aside, however, my biggest fear is that I will drift away from God. It would be easy to do, with being busy all the time, and thinking about work constantly (something else that needs to stop for the sake of my sanity). And even though I am getting in the Word regularly, and went to Women’s Group and church this past week, I still feel far from God. Part of it is that I haven’t been praying as often as I had been while still at D2S. But the other part I attribute to my job. It’s very similar to my last post about vacation. My whole life now feels like a vacation – unfortunately, not in the aspect that it feels like I’m lying on the beach 24/7, but in the aspect that nothing feels familiar. Everything changed. I live in the same house with the same husband but honestly, that feels like pretty  much the only things that are the same.

As I try to reclaim my identity in the midst of this new job threatening to consume my life, I think about this song by Shawn McDonald:

The ways of this world are grabbing a hold
Won’t let me go, won’t let me fly by
It’s taking it’s toll down on my soul
‘Cause I know what I need in my life
Don’t let me lose my sight of You
Don’t let me lose my sight

Chorus:
I don’t want to fall away from You
Gravity is pulling me on down
I don’t want to fall away from You
Gravity is pulling me to the ground

This world keeps making me cry
But I’m going to try, going to try to fly, GOTTA FLY HIGH
Don’t want to give into the sin, want to stay IN YOU ‘til the end
Don’t want to lose my sight of You
Don’t want to lose my sight

Chorus

I want to fly
Into the sky
Turn my back on this WHOLE world AND
Leave it all behind
This place is not my home
It’s got nothing for me
Only leaves me with emptiness
And tears in my eyes

God is powerful and can – nay, WILL – sustain my spirit in the midst of this. I cling to that truth.