As parents today, we are overly busy, sometimes frazzled, and we struggle to find balance. How do we meet our children’s needs, our family’s needs, and still find time to meet our own needs? Let’s be real: it’s hard to find balance.
When my oldest son was a baby – almost 16 years ago now – I did not know how to make time for myself. Perhaps that is part of the learning curve of becoming a mother. Perhaps it is a natural progression that parenthood envelopes us for a little while. But as time passes, and babies get older, we do have to make time for ourselves in order to meet the needs of our family. Here are some ideas to fit CrossFit into your busy parenting life:
1) Work out with your baby
Because little babies need to be close to a caregiver and because they have immediate needs, one easy solution is to get your workout in *with* your baby. Wrap baby up in a sling, put baby on your back in a backpack (Ruck hike!), or, once the baby is old enough, use the jogger. When your baby gets hungry, it is easy to stop to nurse or feed…take a quick break and you can get right back to your WOD. Both your needs and your baby’s needs get met – it’s a win-win. And you can consider your walk, hike, run, or bike ride an RX+ workout with the added weight of the baby! You can also workout with your baby close by. Depending on your box and depending on your baby (you know your baby best!), you can bring your baby with you to the WOD, keeping them close by in their carrier or secure seat. You can do a “travel WOD” at home while baby is sleeping. And last but not least, you and your partner can take turns getting your WOD on – my husband and I called this the “high five” phase of parenthood. He worked out early in the morning, and then when he walked in the door at night, and I gave him a “high five” on my way out to the gym.
2) Work out with your children
It is important to model our active lifestyle in front of our children! Yes, it might take longer to do that hike with a strong-willed 4 year-old who wants to do things by himself …. yes, your shoulders might get tired from carrying them when they get tired …. yes, you might need to take more breaks when you go on a family bike ride together. But teaching your children by example – teaching them to love what you love – is worth it. One thing that worked well for our family was to take a bike ride to the local park, and then get our workout in at the park while the kids played.
3) Be willing to wake up early
To get a workout in by yourself, you may have to be willing to wake up early to get a WOD in before work and before the rest of the family wakes up. How do you do this? First of all, think of how wonderful it will feel – how accomplished you will feel – to have your WOD done before breakfast. Picture the result in your mind. Then, tell your partner and your WOD-buddies your plan, to hold yourself accountable. At night, set out your workout clothes and shoes. Set out an easily digested pre-workout meal, ready to go for the morning, as well as a post-workout recovery, ready to take with you. Set your alarm. And PRESTO! You are all set to get yourself out the door.
4) Or, be willing to take the late shift
It can be difficult to get yourself out the door for a WOD after work, or after a long day of parenting. But as CrossFit has taught you, “difficult” doesn’t mean it can’t be done! Take a similar approach to the early morning workout: tell your plans to your partner and your friends, to hold yourself accountable. Have the clothes ready to go in your workout bag. Have a nutrition plan in place – make sure to eat a meal or snack 1-2 hours before WOD time, and be sure to have a recovery shake in the car ready to go. You’ve got this!
5) Teach them well
The pinnacle of balance could possibly be found by bringing your children into the lifestyle with you! Imagine if they could understand what you are saying when you say “no-rep”, “toes to bar”, or “box jump”? Imagine if they were the ones to encourage you to get out the door? Teach them – show them – bring them with you when it makes sense. If you sign up for a local competition, make sure that they come to cheer for you…and spend some time prepping them for what they will see there. Hopefully these are future CrossFitters in the making – or athletes of a more specialized nature – but either way, it’s good to teach them about what you do.
In conclusion, there are many ways to balance parenting and CrossFit. Along with the ideas in the post, it’s always good to ask other parents how they find balance. And be willing to share what has worked for you! As my children have gotten older, I have developed an the “airplane oxygen mask” theory: as a parent, you have to put your own oxygen mask on FIRST, so that you can take care of your children. The Box may not be all there is to life – but it can be an important part of life. It is an important part of having the energy and capacity to meet the needs of your family, and it is certainly is an important part of teaching your children to be active, healthy, and to meet their own needs!
About the author: Coach Molly is CF-L1, as well as a volunteer breastfeeding counselor with a local support group. She has 3 children, who are now 15, 12, and 10 years old.