A couple of months ago I was at a sports tournament with one of my kids, as I often am on weekends. On this particular weekend, we were about 300 miles from home. After a long day of sports, our teenage kids and all the parents were having a team pizza night at the hotel. While looking around at our fit teens and the tired parents, I had kind of a moment. An angry, resentful moment to be honest. It felt a lot like I was having an internal temper tantrum. Because I started thinking about how parents, especially moms, are prioritizing our children’s bodies and their health by sacrificing ours. We not only go the extra mile, but the extra 300 miles in this case, so that our kids can do the exercise that makes them most happy.
I genuinely LOVE watching my kids play. I love giving them the experiences that bring them so much joy and all the positive development that comes from being part of sports and the other activities that they love. And I even love going with my son to this 300 mile away tournament every year. We have so much fun together and that time feels like a gift.
Where’s the time for me? Where’s the time for taking care of myself and my body when I am busy driving all over god’s creation to take kids to sports practices and games?
Obviously, there are plenty of parents who do make time for themselves. It can be done. However, for the last few years, I haven’t been one of those parents. My workload has escalated tremendously since the pandemic started. And as our kids have gotten older, the time commitment for their activities has gotten bigger. With those two areas of my life taking up more time than ever, time for taking care of myself just kept getting lower down on the priority list.
My upset feeling from that moment didn’t just go away. I sat with it on the 300 mile drive home and decided that it was time to make some changes. I made it to the gym six days that week, and in the months since, I have continued to use my gym membership for all its worth. I’ve made getting to the gym to take care of me as big a priority as getting my kids to soccer, skating, art, volleyball or wherever else they are supposed to be.
But to make it work, it took a lot. It was definitely not nothing. I have three kids. Each of them is only in one or two activities. While no individual child is over-scheduled, I am. One or two activities that happen multiple days a week times three kids – the numbers start to add up pretty quickly. Between them, they have eight practices or lessons a week plus games, tournaments, and occasional performances (and I’m not even counting the things that happen at the high school where my son can use his school permit to drive himself). There just isn’t time for mom and dad to do all that driving and take care of themselves, too.
So, I got on care.com and hired someone to drive our kids to activities two days a week. I would love to have her do more, but it gets expensive fast. I switched coaches for one of my kids so that she can now do back-to-back lessons with the same coach as her big sister and the sitter can cover driving to both. Then, I set up carpool so we only have to drive to one sports practice instead of two on Monday nights. Even after all those adjustments, we’re still driving kids to practices and games five days of most weeks. But, that made enough room in the schedule to find some time for me. I’ve put myself back on the calendar and back on the priority list, and that feels pretty good.
If you are like me and having internal temper tantrums about how there is just no time for you, I hope you’ll take a look at what the options are to make some time to do what makes you feel recharged and good. You deserve it.
I get up at 5:30 a.m. while in advance of my kids waking, just so I can do a yoga practice. I do it 30 minutes every morning. It has been my life saving grace. When I have moments that you described in this blog, I think back to that 30 minutes of freedom. Sometimes it seems ridiculous, but you do what you can to get that precious “me” time.