When Kids and Babies Disrupt Your Training
Casey asks: “How much is my training affected when I have to stop and start or take an extra minute to tend to kids or to feed the baby? It’s not every session but it does happen.”
Well, of course your training is going to be impacted but you have to ask yourself what’s the alternative? The are certain things which are a give, certain things that just aren’t open to negotiation. And this is one of those things. Looking after the kids, looking after the baby, it has to happen.
So, let’s put that fact to the side and say, “Well, yeah, this has to happen, let’s make the best of the situation that we have left.” A lot of people focus on this obstacle, the obstacle being my kids are interrupting me during my exercise, it’s supposed to be my time and they focus on this obstacle, on this problem, as they perceive it and they don’t focus on making the best of that situation.
So, it’s a given that you have to play the role of a mother. That’s a non-negotiable. That’s there. How good can you make your training given this non-negotiable? That’s the question and that’s what we have to try and optimise.
If there are times where there are constant interruptions, a really good way mentally to deal with this, there are two good strategies. The first is on measuring the success of your exercise by completion, not by quality. Sometimes we try to be perfectionists and the exercise session has to be perfect, otherwise we perceive that it’s not valuable. This is absolutely not the case. If you are faced with constant interruptions, if the kids need your time, which occasionally of course they will, if you’ve done an exercise session, you can tick that box. You don’t write in that box, “This was a four out of ten.” It doesn’t matter, the quality isn’t important in this case. What’s important is that you just continue to tick the boxes, you continue to create these chains in your habit and behaviour, which is going to give you some long term behaviour change. Look at completing the session as the win. Not the quality of that session, how much you lift or how fast you go.
The second strategy that we can use here comes from a model called the six thinking hats which was established by a guy called Edward de Bono. And basically, it’s more of a corporate marketing tool or strategy, this one. And he has six different hats. Each is a different colour. Maybe in a corporate setting you might say to a board of people, “All right, everyone put on the blue hat, that’s the hat for creativity. Everyone put on your red hat, that’s your hat for analytical thinking.” Each of these hats has different qualities which exemplify a certain task that needs to be completed.
Now, I’ve used this in the past with athletes to some really great effect and you can do the same thing. Identify what it is that you need to do in your role as a mother. What qualities do you need to have? You need to be patient, you need to be empathetic, you need to be helpful, you need to be caring, you need to be loving. These are things that make you a good mother.
Then, what other things, what other tasks, what other qualities and core values you need to have to be a good athlete? You need to be determined, you need to be committed, you need to be willing to go through some discomfort. These are very different things, very different qualities than those which are required to be a good mother or a good parent.
Now, sometimes you will need to switch very quickly from wearing the athlete hat, from wearing the exerciser hat to wearing the mother hat. Having this metaphorical hat that you can put on and take off allows you to switch very quickly between these two roles. Otherwise what can happen is one role can bleed into the other. You’ll be exercising, your kids will need you, and then once you’ve finished helping the kids, it takes you a while to get back into the rhythm of what you were doing.
However, if you can, again, have these metaphorical hats, your kids need you, you take off the training hat, you put on the mom hat, with all of the core values and the actions that that comes with, soon as you’ve finished helping the kids, you put back on that athlete hat, it’s a clean cut and you’re able to then maximise not only how much you can help your kids but how much you can try to maximise your benefit from your exercise session.
Okay? Couple of things to have a play with here. Just remember certain things are non-negotiable, they’re a given, make the best of the situation outside these non-negotiables.
Dan Williams is the Director of Range of Motion and leads a team of Exercise Physiologists, Sports Scientists, Physiotherapists and Coaches. He has a Bachelor of Science (Exercise and Health Science) and a Postgraduate Bachelor of Exercise Rehabilitation Science from The University of Western Australia, with minors in Biomechanics and Sport Psychology.