Time MGMT

a.k.a – How to make time to train when you have three children under the age of four

I think this is the skill that I’ve likely honed most since becoming a parent, and yet still need to work on it (based on how long it’s been since my last post :). It’s incredible how many balls in the air you have as a mother: managing your kids needs on what feels like a minute-to-minute basis, grocery shopping, meal planning/prep, laundry, cleaning, feeding the cat, paying the bills, signing your kids up for activities on time….the list goes on. And have you noticed I have neglected to include one VERY important component? SELF CARE.

I don’t know if it’s our biology or rather that we fall into the habit of putting ourselves last but most women and mothers I know are guilty of the same. We are all great at taking care of our children, our spouses, our furry friends but sadly not always ourselves.

Now that I’m on baby number three I’ve come to realize that a) I’m guilty of this and b) this needs to change. Fortunately I have a husband who is super supportive of me making/finding the time to still do the things that make me happy outside of being a mother and for me that is fitness, running/biking/yoga. Those are my happy places. But that still doesn’t make it easy. Our days are full. FULL full. They start somewhere in the 6:00 am hour when our darling boys scramble out of bed full of energy and ready to get the day started and they don’t wind down until 8:00 or 9:00 pm at night after the kids are in bed, the dishes are washed and the toys have been tidied. So how do I find time to train? I’ve learned to make time. It’s never going to be the right time to go for a run, or to get to that spin class. Someone is always going to be crying. There will always be laundry to be done, dishes to be washed, beds to be made, PlayDough drying out that needed to be put away hours ago. But you have to leave it behind and just GO.

It’s funny, for Hagen and I the more kids we have it’s almost easier for us to find time for ourselves. Partly because we are more aware of how important it is and how having that little bit of time makes you a better partner, parent and happier self; but also because we have gotten better at scheduling, prioritizing what makes us happy and realizing it’s something you absolutely have to do.

So what are my tricks to try to manage my time and get it all done?

  1. Make the time. You’re never going to get out for a run, a bike ride, a cup of tea with a friend if you don’t schedule it it. Make it a priority. Days are full but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room. Hagen sets his alarm for the wee hours of the morning to get to the gym or out for a run. Sometimes I’m not leaving for an exercise class until 8pm at night because that’s when there is finally peace in the house. And some days when I’ve got a meeting and a few groceries to pick up and a baby in tow I travel by jog stroller. I run/walk to my meeting, the grocery store, etc. When the car needs service, I drop it off first thing in the morning and run home. I remember one of the few winters in the past four that I wasn’t pregnant (ha!) I’d get up early to run and the kids would be awake and not wanting me to leave so into the Chariot they’d go and we’d run past the fire station and by the bagel shop. Get ‘er done.
  2. Ask for help. Or pay for it. Full stop. We don’t have much family nearby. Hagen’s father lives in the city but works full time as a professor so isn’t around much to lend a hand. My family is all on the mainland. We are lucky to have a fantastic network of friends but most have kids the same age so not a lot of people we can lean on for childcare. So we have a nanny. Full time. Yes, I’m on maternity leave. No, I’m not ashamed. I have a few people ask me if our lives are as happy/fun as they look on social media and I can honestly say yes, they are. Because we have help. We know we need it. It makes us happier people and better parents. It’s a big expense, but absolutely worth it for our happiness. Our lovely Nanny has quickly become part of our family. She helps me run our home, she is helping me raise my children and she is helping me keep my sanity. I can get out for a strength training class, a trail run, and leave the three kids for an hour and focus on myself. It feels so good and I return refreshed and re-energized to deal with the chaos of a three year old who has decided he no longer needs anyone to wipe his bum after he poops or a four year old whose love of numbers and incessant questioning could drive you to madness. But it doesn’t, because I prioritize my sanity.
  3. Be accountable and make the investment by whatever means you can. Commit to meeting a friend for a run, offer to pick them up on the way to your yoga class. Schedule it into you planner so it’s there staring you in the face. Or pay for a trainer. Register for a series of classes. If it’s important to you, it’s worth investing in. If it’s going to make you happier and healthier than make the time and spend the money. It’s probably going to work out to be less $$ that how much you spend on latte’s a month so budget and plan accordingly. Don’t buy that extra bottle of wine on the week-end and put that cash towards the pilates classes you’ve always wanted to do. Always wanted to run a 10k – make a plan to run with a friend every weekend, join the local Running Room ‘learn to run group’ beacuse I guarantee you’ll meet at least a handful of people in the same boat as you who you can be accountable to. And do it now. Why? Because there is never going to be a ‘good time’ now is as good as it’s going to get. Life only gets busier. We all know that by experience.
  4. Manage your expectations. A.K.A Embrace the chaos. In an ideal world I want our house to be clean, everything in it’s place, our kids fed and happy and clean. You get the picture. But we don’t live in an ideal/perfect world. We live in chaos, like most families with small children do. So it’s OK if the French Press sits with old coffee on the counter all day; if the Paw Patrol toys are strewn on the living room floor; if the pile of unfolded laundry sits for just one more day. Now don’t get my wrong, I’m NOT saying let chaos rule, I’m just saying let a little more chaos into your lives. You’d be surprised how much happier everyone will be for it 🙂

 

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I’ll finish by saying this. I am by no means an expert, if you have other tips on how to fit training and self care into your lives I’d love to hear about them! I plan on doing another post on the importance of self care in general as well because I think this is something we women need to get better at!!!!

Until then, stay well and train. Hard.

xo

Aspiring to endure

en·dur·ance
inˈd(y)o͝orəns,enˈd(y)o͝orəns/Submit
noun
1.
the fact or power of enduring an unpleasant or difficult process or situation without giving way.
“she was close to the limit of her endurance”
synonyms: toleration, tolerance, sufferance, forbearance, patience, acceptance, resignation, stoicism More
adjective
1.
denoting or relating to a race or other sporting event that takes place over a long distance or otherwise demands great physical stamina.
“the annual 24-hour endurance race”

 

Dare I say it? I do. I’m doing it. I’m going to call myself an aspiring endurance athlete. I’m declaring so for two reasons, really: 1) I’m a goal oriented/action oriented person; I can’t just run or work out, I need to train for something, aspire for something and 2) I hope to inspire/motivate/encourage you out there who have always thought about signing up for something, whether it be a 5k community run or the Canadian Death Race; I hope that after reading this you are inspired to sign up.

So why endurance, you might ask? I don’t know, really. It just attracts and inspires me. I like running (most of the time, though not so much these days). I really do. I was never super fit as a kid, not un-athletic, just average. I didn’t make any teams in junior high school. In Grade 10, I tried out for volleyball and didn’t make the team but was offered the manager position which allowed me to practice with the team then travel to the games to assist, which I was totally down with. I tried every sport under the sun, literally. Swim team, soccer, basketball, volleyball, softball, rhythmic gymnastics, ringette, synchronized swimming, figure skating….you get the picture. I had incredibly supportive parents who would let me sign up for/try whatever sport I wanted, encourage me to finish what I had started but never pushed me beyond what I wanted. Sometimes I wondered if they had ever pushed me to pursue one sport, instead of try the pot-pourri that was my childhood athletic experience, if I would have ever really gotten ‘good’ at something, but then I think of all the incredible experiences I had and how they have shaped me to be the person I am today, and am I grateful for the way they chose to raise me.

So back to endurance running. I was fortunate to attend Rothesday Netherwood School for  Grade 11 and 12 (my final years of high school). Every year, after spring break, the entire student body participated in ‘Spring Trots’. Sounds like an unfortuage GI event to me now, but it’s actually a school running series where the elementary, junior and senior school students (and teachers!) run daily after classes working up to a set distance. I had never really run any significant distance before this and as a senior school student we worked up to a 10k run. There were lunchtime awards for most improved runner, which I was awarded at one step along the way, and although I was by no means the fastest, I felt a huge sense of accomplishment. And after that, I always ran. I rowed competitively during my undergraduate studies and ran to keep fit in the off season.  Then, when I moved to Japan after my undergrad and experienced intense culture shock, running helped me stay grounded. So, for some reason that escapes me today, I signed up for my first 1/2 marathon in Japan. I suspect it was for the same reason that I’m now hoping to move into endurance distances: to motivate myself, to challenge myself and to stay fit. I made myself a training schedule and manage to follow it pretty religiously, and ran my first 1/2 marathon in Kashiwazaki, Japan. I was one of three non-Japanese people who entered and probably the first person who had never previously run any distance close to that. It wasn’t a huge race, maybe a few hundred people. It was tough: hot, lots of uphill and only one water station at the half way point. I think I was the third last person to finish (literally a few 80 something year old Japanese runners behind me). But you know what? I didn’t care. I DIDN’T CARE. Because I was running for me. I ran through the finish with tons of people cheering ‘Ganbari’ which translates to ‘tenacity, endurance’ and I shouted back ‘Ganbarimasu’ which translates to ‘I will do my best’. And I did.

After that, I was hooked. Despite literally being one of the last people to finish the race, I felt so good. I was so proud of myself to finish. Maybe I was lucky to do my first 1/2 marathon in Japan, so I didn’t have to prove anything to anyone but myself, and I think that was the point where I fell in love with running. I did a handful of other races that year, and actually got on the ‘podium’ for one race, coming third place in a ‘mountain’ race which literally had us running straight uphill for 5km then downhill 5km. So when I returned to Canada after my year abroad, I kept running. I signed up for local community runs like the Bluenose 10k and 1/2 marathon, Ottawa 1/2 Marathon, ‘races’ like that for fun and to give me something to motivate myself to get our there and train. I’m also  fortunate to have done a lot of traveling and have run road races not only in Japan but also in Tanzania and The Netherlands. I eventually got into triathalon and joined the Halifax Triathlon Club and started doing group training sessions.  During my first year of medical school I trained with the cross country club at Dal which was an incredible (albeit humbling) experience which hugely improved my running. Since then I’ve done a bunch of 5k and 10k road races, a few marathon’s and a handful of 1/2 marathons.

And then I got into trail running. At first, just casually and for fun/training to mix it up. And belive it or the the first and only significant endurance distance run I have ever done was ‘for fun’. My ex-boyfriend/training partner and I decided one Saturday for fun we would run Cape Chignecto in Nova Scotia..it’s somewhere around 50km. We started out late (I think we decided, or rather I decided, it was imperative that we go to the farmers market for Mary’s Cinnamon Buns before we headed out of town). But I loved it! We had a ton of fun, seriously. Except for the fact that we ran the last 10+ km in the dark….bad planning on our part.

Then I moved to B.C. for residency (and ended up staying…another story!) and found myself getting more and more into trail running. Then I meet this super cute resident in the same year as me who is also into trail running who tells me about some awesome trail runs in Victoria (spoiler alert: WE’RE NOW MARRIED WITH THREE ADORABLE BABIES!) So I started getting more and more into trail running and fell in love,  with trail running and also with said resident. I’ve done a few little trail races here and there. But now that we have three beautiful boys and our family is complete I’m excited to start training for some longer distance trail races.

 

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I’m fortunate to have a very enabling husband when it comes to fitness so I’ve already gotten the okay and even encouragement to sign up for some races this summer. I’m starting easy with a MEC 5km run at the end of march at Thetis Lake (start slow and build!) and then gradually building up with longer distances doing an 11km trail race at Royal Roads in April and a 7km trail race in Duncan in May. I’ll hopefully do a few more races throughout the summer and my hope is to finish the season off with the Finlayson Arm 28km race in September. I feel like that’s a reasonable distance to aspire to over the coming months. Then maybe next year I’ll tackle the 50km!

Diving back into running after three babies, and only a bit of running in between pregnancies has been challenging. I decided to make it easy on myself by following a training plan. For one thing, it forces me to take things gradually so I don’t go all in too quickly and end up injuring myself. The other thing it does is make me accountable. I’m following this beginner 10km training plan from Running Shoes Guru. Right now I’m on Week 4 of the plan and it’s going well. It’s easy to follow and gradual enough that it’s not overwhelming but definitely starting to challenge me. I’m trying to work on strength on off days through boot camp etc.

So race one is just over two weeks away and I’m excited. I know I won’t be fast, and even though it’s only 5km it will likely hurt. But it will feel so good to get back out there into that community. I love community races. You see people of all shapes and sizes and level of fitness ability. Everyone is so positive and supportive. I’m excited to get back into this world, and also to show it to my children. To show them how important it is to be fit and active and to challenge yourself. Wish me luck!!!

xo

Sarah

 

 

Finding Patients

pa·tience ˈpāSHəns/ noun
– the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.

If you read my ‘About Me’ you’ll know that this blog is about many things: being a mother/parent, a physician, and an *aspiring* endurance athlete (I say aspiring as I have only ran any signifiant ultra distances once…but I’ll get into that another time) but that they all share one thing in common and that is patience.

I can honestly say, I never knew how patient I was, or would learn to be, until I became a mother. Those of you who know me well know that I’m a doer. Before having kids I was constantly on the go. Being home doing nothing wasn’t something I did. People would watch movies or binge on Netflix during the day? That was crazy talk to me (though now sounds like a dream day….). I was out studying, running, hiking, working, involved with committees, socializing – you name it. Now with three young children my days are the opposite, mostly spent at home keeping the peace and trying to run our home. Getting out with just the baby, or alone, for that matter, is a feat for me these days.

Being a parent, patience is probably one of the most important traits you need to have, or learn. Holding your newborn as they cry for no reason for sometimes hours on end; dealing with the constant negotiation of toddlers as you try to get through a day without tantrums, getting out the door on time, getting healthy food into their mouths, getting into the bath, getting out of the bath, negotiating bedtime etc. And I can’t even imagine what the tween and teen years will bring!  The amount of negotiating, explaining and waiting that goes on in a day as a parent is unbelievable. I think of myself as patient person, but I have to say that at times I do lose my patience and I am constantly working on this. It’s SO hard as a parent to maintain composure when you’re at the end of your rope, you’ve been negotiating all day long with your brood and you just want them to go to sleep so you can have that coveted hour of two of uninterrupted adult time before you go to sleep to recharge and do it all again the next day. I’m currently reading a book called ‘Permission to Parent’ by Robin Berman who talks a lot about this and how hard it is as a parent to remove emotion from the equation. And this is something I think I do well most of the time, but that I also need to work on daily.

I also need to be more patient with my husband, who is incredibly patient with me (most of the time :). My mind works at a mile a minute and I’m constantly doing five tasks at once. I’m very organized in my own disorganized way. In my efforts to keep our family of five organized, I have piles around our house. Piles of children’s toys I want to take back up to their room, piles of toys to donate, piles of laundry to be folded, piles of clothes to donate, piles of paperwork to be filed, piles of magazines to sort through…you get the picture. And my husband, whose German heritage tends towards tidiness and order, is not into piles. His home has basically become over run with toys, baby paraphernalia and piles and piles and piles. His closet is his only sacred space left in the house.  So when I see his socks on the counter or his bike left out in our mudroom, instead of asking (dare I say nagging) him to move it, I have to take a breath and remember this is his home too. I may be the one at home these days and organizing our lives, but I need to be patient and remember it’s a shared space and he puts up with my piles so I need to relax a bit. I’m not perfect, so why should I expect him to be?

Being a family physician also requires an immense amount of patience. Gone are the days where a physician was put on a pedestal (which isn’t a bad thing) and we now are taught to practice ‘patient centred’ care where we put the patients needs, interests and wishes at the centre of our treatment. I think this model works most of the time and is a positive change in the practice of medicine. The problem comes when you are dealing with patients who doubt that you have their best interests at heart; when they don’t want to vaccinate their children because they believe the ‘research’ they have done on the internet reading testimonials and totally false information; when you disagree that the vitamins and supplements their naturopath has prescribed are indicated; when you disagree that cannabis oil is going to cure their cancer. You need an inordinate amount of patient to listen to their side, understand where they are coming from and to try to explain that you DO in fact have their best interests at heart and your goal is to optimize their health.

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And being a mother and physician while still trying/aspiring to be an endurance athlete requires a well of patience. Patience mostly with myself. I have had three children in four years. My body has changed incredibly, and I have to be kind and patient as I slowly work to get back to the level of fitness I once had. I have zero abdominal tone. I have bad PFP (patello-femoral pain syndrome) after my hips expanded to carry and deliver these beautiful babies. I am still carrying extra weight (how could I not be?! I gave birth to my third beautiful boy only three months ago!). But I have to remind myself of this almost daily, when I can barely do five push ups in a row (on my knees!), when I am out of breath after running just a few km, when I still can’t squeeze into half of my wardrobe, that I need to be patient and kind. It took 10 months for my body to change and to gain the weight, so I need to expect it will take the same amount of time to shed the weight and get my fitness back.

So that’s why I decided to name my blog finding patients. I wanted to be a bit clever 🙂 And because on a daily basis,  I am trying to remind myself to be patient; patient with my children, patient with my patients and patient with myself.