Being a mom is one of the most wondrous experiences. From seeing your tiny newborn acknowledge you for the very first time to that feeling of your toddler running into your arms with a huge grin, it's elating. And of course, the many milestones of school and life as your child grows are rewarding. Having a front-row seat and influence on your child’s (or children’s) life is fulfilling.
Every parent understands the challenge of trying to be a present parent, spending time with your partner if you have one, trying to get work done (especially during this pandemic!), and taking care of yourself. For many, taking care of oneself comes last on the list, but what if it didn’t have to? Self-care comes in many forms, but chances are, if you are reading this, one of your favorite forms of self-care is riding your bike! The tug-o-war of competing priorities can be overwhelming, but there are ways to create a little more time to ride.
I'm a professional athlete, a podcast host, health coach, business owner, and mom to a 1-year-old. I understand the challenge of prioritization. Here are just a few of my tips on how to get the most out of your ride time. As an aside, if you want to hear from some other cyclist moms and how they manage mom guilt, listen to this podcast episode.
Ok, back to making time to ride and recharge! I don’t know about you, but if I don’t plan, it seems like I spend a lot of time getting ready to ride or looking for clothes to wear on my ride in the winter. We want to spend as many of those spare minutes actually riding our bike instead of the time it takes preparing to ride our bike. Here are some things that are working for me. I’d love to hear what works for you too!
You block off times in your calendar for work meetings and doctor’s appointments because they are essential. What about blocking off time to ride? It’s something I do every week because personally, riding my bike is very important to me. If I don’t protect that time, it would be tough to make it happen.
What about guilt? Some parents experience guilt when leaving their little one with a caretaker as they pedal away from the house. Take a moment to acknowledge that taking time for yourself helps you show up as a better parent. We all feel better after we exercise, and it’s easier to take on the unique stressors in our lives. Valuing your health also sets an example for your children and helps you have the energy to keep up with your kids. Also, being consistent with your rides will help your child or children get used to you leaving to go ride. I’ve been riding since my son was a tiny baby, so he knows that when mom has her helmet on, she is heading out the door and will be back later. That doesn’t mean he is clapping for joy that I’m leaving, but he knows what to expect. Prioritizing the commitment of riding your bike and taking care of yourself as you would for a work meeting or doctor’s appointment is a worthy pursuit.
I make sure my tools are organized. That means essentials for my ride like my hand pump and tools are together, and my sports nutrition is ready to go. You could even put everything in your hydration pack, so the only thing you have to do is fill up the pack and head out the door. Here are the tools I carry every ride. Reducing the amount of time preparing to ride will give you more time on the trails or roads.
Most modern computers sync with phones to notify you of a text or phone call. This feature isn’t always desirable if you’re trying to unplug from work, but if you are concerned about an emergency popping up with your kids, it can give you peace of mind. I use a Wahoo ELEMNT (there are other brands that are text-enabled). I like knowing that I won’t miss a message or phone call if the person taking care of my son has a quick question or an emergency.
The last thing you want is to be dressed and ready to hop on your bike, only to discover that you forgot that you needed to change your tires or lube your chain.
Making it as easy as possible to keep your bike in working order is vital. It’s worth putting in the time upfront to learn how to do basic maintenance on your bike. Having a repair stand will help you adjust your gears, swap out a chain, check your bolts. I also love the Topeak TubiBooster for the fastest and easiest way to install new tubeless tires. Here’s a video on how to do it.
Kid's bikes have come a long way in technology. You can even take little ones with you with things like the shotgun seat. I can’t wait until my son is big enough to go ride! One caveat is that alone time away from the kids is important for many people, so make sure you still take time for yourself!
Sonya Looney is a professional athlete, a podcast host, health coach, business owner, and a wife, and mom of 2. She understands the challenges of prioritization and motivation. She regularly writes about these topics along with mindset, goals, and habits in her weekly newsletter! Let her experiences and expertise be a part of your journey down the path of living a high-performance life!