Raising kids is great. I’m so lucky to be their mom. It’s rewarding, emotionally fulfilling, blah, blah, blah. Yes, I’m glad I’ve got the job. I adore them! But actually spending the day with two toddlers? That’s an endurance sport, people. It’s pretty much exactly like a triathlon. And if you’ve got more than 2 kids under the age of 6? Well you might as well be an Olympian. Here are just a few of the similarities:
You’ve got to TRAIN: Unless you’re some sort of miracle athlete, people don’t just run out and do a triathlon without TRAINING first. And unless you’re the 19 Kids and Counting mom, you don’t just do a day with toddlers. Sure, their infancy may have prepared you a little, but let’s be honest, babies don’t do a lot of “pushing boundaries” or “talking back” or “insisting to get in the car by themselves only to wander around back there elusively, daring you to try and force them into the car seat”. You’ve got to have patience, and know the right phrase to use to coax them into submission, and when to pull out the big guns…candy! All that takes training, countless hours of testing your body’s limits and your mental acuity, so you won’t be outdone by a cranky toddler who wants to keep you from enjoying Target!
FULL NIGHT’S SLEEP: The night before your triathlon, you’re prepping. You’re carb loading, going to bed early so you can wake up feeling great! Getting ready for even the most mundane day with toddlers is no different. If your biggest task is 2 loads of laundry and dinner with little “helpers” running around, you better be well rested or you don’t stand a chance. The irony is, toddlers themselves don’t actually value sleep yet. They’re ok with keeping you up till 10 asking for water and getting out of bed 100 times, or freaking you out redrum style by standing silently beside your bed at 2am, staring at you until you wake with a start. So good luck with that. Carbs? check. Caffeine? check. Slept a full 8 hrs last night? Only if you’re lucky.
HYDRATE: Oh you’re triathlon game is strong–you’ve found the perfect electrolyte solution, plus you’ve been drinking 8, 8oz glasses of water for weeks now. A day with toddlers is no different; you’ve got to hydrate. You start the day with caffeine, and get the rest in where you can. You sneak sips out of their sippy cups at the table rather than waste energy getting up for the drink you forgot. By 5pm a small hand holds out a princess teacup full of lemonade and you grab it and pour it over your head, catching a drop or two in your mouth, hoping the jolt will keep you going for just. a little. longer.
You need the right OUTFIT: Those triathlon bodysuits are money. You’re not going to try and do a tri in flip flops and a bikini. No. You get the right gear thats going to let you do all the things you need to do, quickly. For a day with the kiddos, I need something that’s going to take me from the store, to the sandbox (eew), to the preschool where other people I know will actually see me. It has to be snot proof, sweat resistant, and I have to be able to bend over without offending anyone. So if I’m wrinkled and in yesterday’s t-shirt, don’t judge. It gets the job done. I don’t see you ironing that triathalon body suit because that would be pointless, right? Same goes for me. And footwear? Don’t even get me started. I haven’t seen a pair of heels in years.
It’s NOT FOR QUITTERS: You can’t quit a triathlon in the middle of the bike ride. You can’t just hop off, after all your training and hard work and walk away, because at this point, it’s easier just to keep on truckin’. Then you hit that hill and you see people zooming past you UP the hill and you’re like “woah! what the…” Parenting toddlers is much the same. You can’t just quit in the middle. You have to focus on your own race and stop the comparisons. Just keep your head down and pedal. Your foot hurts? Keep going. You’ve got two dirty diapers, a two-year-old meltdown, a sinkful of dirty dishes, and no dinner plan? Keep going. It’s almost bedtime.
And when it’s all over, and you cross the finish line, you’ll look back with pride. Or, when your day is done and they’re finally asleep you’ll look back with either pride or a glass of wine (or both), and think to yourself : Swim. Bike. Run. HA! How ‘bout Dinner. Bath. Bedtime. Where’s my bumper sticker for that?!
If you do triathlons and don’t even have kids, I commend you. If you do triathlons AND have kids, I commend you. If you do the triathlon that IS having kids and nothing else ever, I commend you. Because it’s all really hard! Happy race day everyone…Are you ready?!
*full disclosure: I have never actually done a triathlon. I watched my husband do one once and wanted to cry, much like I do during bedtime at least twice a week, which is what inspired this post.