This week, Chicked Nation asks:
#DearSolo, I am a single mom of two beautiful girls. I also work full time, and try to maintain some sort of social life. I feel like I am pulled in a million different directions on any given day. How do I do it all? At what point, taking care of my own health, and satisfying my own desire to train and race become selfish? Is it selfish? And if it is not, why does it feel like it is?
Feeling selfish when taking care of ourselves must be one of the universal struggles that women experience. I have heard this sentiment from young and old, single and married, parents and non-parents alike. When working away from home, a woman often feels guilty that she is not spending more time with her children. When spending time with her children, a woman often feels guilty that she is not spending more time at work. It seems that we manage to find a way to feel guilty, no matter what we do.
There is an answer. Although I don’t think you will like it.
How do I do it all? You don’t.
You pick and choose.
It may be perceived as a controversial stance by many. Women are supposed to do it all. This is what a successful 21st century woman is, after all. Just watch some commercials. It’s easy to feel inadequate in comparison to a happy mom, who seems to effortlessly juggle working, cleaning and feeding a toddler wholesome meals made from scratch on a white couch, of course.
(I’m kidding. Do not watch commercials.)
I am not a parent, and I do not have dependents. However, I am a full-time health coach. I am also a blogger, and a yoga teacher. I prepare most of my meals. I do grocery shopping. I see my friends. I visit my parents. My friends ask how do I manage to train six days a week, and race as often as I do?
You pick and choose.
There are intentional gaps in my life. I do not read as much as I would like (although audio books come in handy here). I have to schedule visits with friends days, sometimes, weeks ahead. I often get my news during my commute to the gym. If I do not drive, I have no idea what’s happening in the world. I am often clueless when it comes to politics.
I wish I didn’t have to choose. But I do. And certain things I intentionally chose to forego, to the benefit of something else. And, if in the future, my career situation changes, my family situation changes, so will my intentional gaps. You thought showering every day was important? Talk to any mother of a newborn to learn about how priorities change.
My clients often ask – how can I do more? I already take care of three children, and two dogs. I work full-time, I sit on three committees at my kids’ school, and I visit my grandma at a nursing home twice a week. How do I find the time every day to exercise?
I have to ask the hard question. “Your life sounds quite full and busy as it is. What will you give up?”.
Free time does not magically manifest itself, and we all carve time out of the same 24 hours. What will have to go? Where can you cut corners?
I often recommend to clients to keep a detailed timesheet for few days to see where their time actually goes. Try it for yourself – record everything you do from the moment you wake up to the time you go to bed, in 15 minute increments.
You may be surprised by what you discover. How much time do you spend commuting? How much time do you spend watching TV? How much time do you spend on social media?
Is it selfish to take care of your health? Is it selfish to train and to race?
Selfish is defined as “lacking consideration for others, and concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure”. On the surface, it may seem that training and racing is, indeed, a selfish endeavour. On the other hand, how good of a friend, mom, partner will you be, if you are miserable?
When I stop training and racing, eating well, and taking care of myself, I am not a pleasurable person to be around. [Talk to me sometime after I have not slept for 24 hours. Not. Fun.]
The concept of self-care is gaining traction in the fields of health care, and we’d do well to incorporate self-care into our lives also. Caretakers especially need self-care.
As for balance… That can be many things to many people. Can you involve your loved ones into your decision making? Can you bring your kids to a race? More and more obstacle races are starting to offer options for children. Joining a team like Canadian Mudd Queens or the Weeple Army connects you to opportunities for carpooling and babysitting. Some of my friends with children discuss their wave times ahead of time, so they can swap watching the kids, while the other races.
Can you talk to your partner about how many races a year he/she would be comfortable with you doing? You can turn some destination races into a vacation – think Vermont, Hawaii, New York – possibilities are endless.
YOUR TURN: Do you feel selfish when pursuing your own training/racing goals? What strategies have you found helpful to balance it all?
Last week, Anonymous asked if OCR was a good way to meet women. Here’s what Anthony Matesi, experienced obstacle racer and now Hurricane Heat Coordinator for the Spartan Race, had to say:
#DearSolo, OCR IS a great way to meet someone. In my case, I was introduced by a friend, Sue Luck, to Kristine. We then finally met at the Dallas Beast. Running the course together removed all the normal barriers, guards and attempts to impress that we typically put on. No longer are you in a situation where you are worried about being proper or any of that typical first date silliness. You are raw. Running, sweating, possibly cussing, blowing snot rockets and whatever else comes with doing a race. Meeting Kristine at a Beast meant we spent 3hrs and 45minutes on course, lots of time to get to know each other. Followed by hanging out all day. It was by far the best first date ever and I didn’t even feel the need to go in for a kiss, yet. Fast forward almost 11 months later and I now live with Kristine.
Now that’s an amazing first date!
For those of you who missed last week’s column, check it out here.
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Few weeks ago, I became one of the admins for one of the largest online obstacle racing communities, Chicked Nation.
As part of that role, I have launched a weekly advice column #DearSolo. Think Dear Abby, but SO MUCH COOLER. So, if you have a question about obstacle racing – hit me up. Send me an email, use Contact Me form on this website, tag me on Facebook or Twitter, just remember to use hashtag #DearSolo.