In the few short years that I’ve been a mom, I’ve come to the conclusion that reading too many books or articles on parenting can make you feel guilty in the same way that reading too many fashion magazines can make you feel ugly. I’m not saying there isn’t a lot of great advice, methods, and techniques out there to learn from but the bottom line is that you have to make anything your own and go with what works for your family and each individual child.
For example, I’ve read a lot about the importance of routines for children whether it be bedtime routines, nap routines, or meal time routines. Unfortunately for me if I followed all that routine advice I probably wouldn’t get out the door too often to train as I’d be constantly interupting a nap time, a bedtime routine, or a specific meal time. Am I being too much of a “selfish athlete” for not structuring my days more around consistent routines for my children’s ultimate security and happiness?
It is a continual balancing act to try and do what is best for the kids while also fitting in my job called training and racing to the best of my ability. I have basically been a “routine-less” mom up to this point. Some days I may train at the crack of dawn (rarely!), the middle of the day when I have a babysitter, and/or a night with my training group. My work as a mental performance consultant is also super variable with changing hours and days each week.
In my routine-less world, Zoe and Nico have adapted very well, and these are the few rules of thumb I’ve followed that help to keep the happy mom, happy kids, happy family ratio the highest….
1. As long as everyone is well rested and happy all is good! This means most mornings I wake up in the middle of a Zoe-Nico sandwich. Although Zoe sleeps in her own bed, in the wee hours of the morning she often sneaks her way into our bed alongside me without me noticing until I roll into her when I wake up much later! Nico still sleeps happily in the middle of our king size bed and though we’ve had intentions to kick him out since he was about 6 months old, it hasn’t happened yet! We will eventually but are not fixing what isn’t broke yet! With a very busy travel schedule bedsharing is what has worked best for our family and getting kids to sleep is never an issue when on the road!
2. A nap on the go isn’t a bad thing! Zoe took the majority of her naps in the Chariot. Having done nothing differently with Nico he easily goes down for a nap in his crib, somedays two shorts ones, or one longer one. While a crib is likely more comfortable, occasional car, stroller or Chariot naps (especially with the added fresh air) while running, cycling, or cross-country skiing can leave kids just as rested and mom re-energized from a good workout!
3. It is important to be able to workout or go to work guilt-free! In the beginning with Zoe I struggled a lot more with feeling guilty spending time away from her while out training such as on a long bike ride or away for occasional overnight trips for racing or work. With some practice, I’ve become better at being fully present where I am when I’m away from the kids whether it be training or meeting with an athlete. They also do just fine with quality Papa time, grandparent time, or fun play time with our energetic babysitter. Breaks also leave me more excited to come home and play with them, while also strenghtening that muscle called “patience” that every parent learns to exercise the day a new baby comes home!
I know one day life might become more routine. In the meantime, as long as I get to spend quality time with my kids and husband every day, as long as they are thriving (e.g. happy, well fed, and rested), and that I get in my quality “selfish athlete” time, then we will continue our routine of “go with the flow”!