I could just work, have someone else take care of my kids during the day, come home for dinner, put the kids to bed and hang out on the couch watching TV. But that doesn’t really appeal to me. Instead, I have a part time teaching job, a reasonably full docket of triathletes to coach, an ironman to train for (LP2016!!), as well as three crazy, young boys to chase after. I have chosen this path. This lifestyle full of twists, turns, changing gears, and non-stop action. A typical day for me consists of a 5:00AM wakeup to workout for a couple hours followed by breakfast with the kids. Then I run off to school to teach high school seniors a lesson on game theory. I maybe try to squeeze in a quick 30-minute durability run before rushing home to partake in monster truck races, bouncy house games, and perhaps a pile of fun (jumping off the couch into a pile of pillows) with my three boys before the dinner hour strikes. After dinner, I get the kids cleaned up (maybe), watch a couple episodes of Curious George, and put the kids to bed. Then I feed the dogs (wait, did I remember to walk them earlier??) and hop on my computer to check out my athletes’ workouts for the day and analyze their progress. I work on training programs and answer emails until the clock hits the bedtime hour (no later than 10:00!) as I know that my lifestyle is not conducive to being overtired.
Sometimes it’s overwhelming, and often times it’s exhausting. And there are times that I need to remind myself that this is the lifestyle that I have chosen for myself. I’ve always been the type of person who has felt the need to be productive and directed in life. Upon settling into this crazy routine, I have realized that it’s actually helpful for me to have distinct avenues on which to focus my time and energy. Rather than driving through life in cruise control, with my mind wandering in all different directions, I find that I have become much more mindful and fully engaged in all that I do. As I move from one role to another to another, I have been reasonably effective at being able to turn on the blinders and fully focus on the present moment. Whether it’s my students, my children, my athletes, or my training. One of these avenues is the focus of my attention at all times. It’s all about being mindful. Being present.
Having a firm grasp on my priorities is incredibly important to balancing this juggling act. Family comes first. And my life needs to be structured in a way that supports this value; otherwise I know I’ve got a problem. Work and training follow. My goals are to feel that I’m productive with the time and energy that I devote to each of my other endeavors. I don’t put pressure on myself to make things perfect, as I know they never will be. But as long as I am present and mindful and giving what I can give in the moment with the time that I have available, I’m satisfied with that. Clearly sacrifices have to be made. I don’t have much time and energy for a social life. But I’ve never been very social anyway, so that’s fine by me. I don’t watch TV anymore, but I really don’t miss it one bit. My “me time” occurs during my early morning workouts. The high intensity workouts sharpen my ability to focus and fuel my drive to push myself. And during the more aerobic workouts, I allow my mind wander and skitter around. Perhaps assess my priorities in life. Maybe think about the day to come or the day that has just transpired. But when the workout is over and I head upstairs to the breakfast bar, my kids take over my attention, and I mindfully become engaged in the moment.