Living with an active partner certainly has its benefits. Namely, you have someone nice to look at all day who takes care of him/herself, and it ultimately makes for a happier household.
Fast forward to your post-kid marriage and things get a little more complicated. While before, you could work out as often (or as little) as you desired, now – every free moment is mapped out and assigned to tasks. Unless we wanted to pay for a babysitter to work out, which we don’t since our kid spends five days a week in daycare, we had to figure out how to come up with an equitable schedule while also keeping our sanity. Here is how it goes in our house:
- Assign days of the week – It’s quite simple and the most important to ensure we each exercise. I get Monday, Wednesdays and Saturdays, my husband gets Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Friday is a wild card, so if someone is feeling extra motivated, he or she can claim it (we usually don’t). These “assignments” mean that it is our day to exercise outside the house in the morning and the other partner gets the kid ready and off to school. If we sleep in and miss our morning, that’s it – it’s gone forever. If we are feeling generous, we might grant the other an extension and an outside workout in the evening, but it isn’t guaranteed.
- Maximize the off days – Even when it’s not my “day,” I still make an effort to do something. Usually, I’ll still wake up early and do a DVD or YouTube video. On his off days, my husband gets on the bike trainer. If I don’t feel like waking up, I’ll hop on the treadmill after the kid is in bed (there is something unnatural and depressing about waking up early to run on a treadmill).
- Plan your year – Okay, so anyone with kids knows that it’s impossible to plan a day, let alone a year, but hear me out. Both my husband and I “train” on some level – he for rowing regattas, me for running races. It is much easier to mentally navigate life when one person is in heavy training mode and the other is just maintaining. While this isn’t always possible for us due to the timing of our goal races, it’s helpful to try making it work this way so there is no resentment and we each feel like we’re getting enough time on the water and road, respectively.
- Maintain the dreaded “c” word – Ultimately, and not to sound totally cliche, it really is about communication. My husband and I are totally upfront about our schedules for the week and our current goals. When he needs an extra day on the water, we talk about it and try to figure out how to make it work for both of us.
- Be flexible – This clearly applies to many facets of parenting, but particularly works for exercise. Unfortunately, it’s my husband who has to sacrifice more days due to my work travel schedule. When I travel, I have the benefit of more workout days, while he is down a few. During those weeks, I try to give him priority when I’m in town, since I know that I can always do a DVD and get some alone workout time on the road.
When all is said and done, it’s really about figuring out what’s best for you and your family. We both know that we are healthier and better, calmer people when we have exercise in our systems, so even though it is less quantity time we all have together, it helps us make the time we do have of the best quality.