As I've watched the Olympics this summer, I’m often taken aback by the talents of so many incredible athletes. And I’m even more impressed by their mental strength and perseverance. So when my friend, Heather Cabot, told me she had just written an article for Parents magazine about managing motherhood like an athlete, the analogy made perfect sense. Think Like an Athlete! is filled with lessons from female sports pros on how they use their proven athletic strategies to transform themselves into gold-medal moms.
It’s an entertaining and informative read that will help you learn to manage motherhood in all sorts of new winning ways. Here’s what Heather has to say about the similarities between being a mom and being an athlete.
What does it mean to manage motherhood like an athlete?
To me, it means to ‘respect the distance’ that I need to cover in a day to get things done. So often, I hear moms being dismissive of the stuff we have to do to keep the trains running: keep everyone well-fed, safe, clean, organized, etc. These things are mundane yet essential to caring for a family. And getting it all done is downright exhausting.
I think if we elevated those responsibilities and reframed them as athletic feats, we might care for ourselves better. For example, everyone in my household knows that I need sleep. My kids are starting to get it when I say Mom is ‘off the clock’ and I need to rest. They see me permitting myself to shut down for the day and they know I’m a lot happier the next day when I go to bed early. Likewise, I get up very early many days so that I have time to write or exercise, and my little ones are starting to understand why I do that.
What’s your favorite sports adage to apply to being a mom?
There are so many that pop in to my head during the day. Today, I’m thinking about, ‘No guts, no glory.’ It takes courage and determination every day to be the parent you want to be. Every person defines that in his or her own way. But sticking with your values, staying strong in your convictions, and creating the environment you want to create in your home is hard work. There are no short cuts.
When have you recently applied this mindset to your own life?
I’m leaning on these principles at this very moment. My 6-year-old son suffered a serious injury earlier this summer and needed emergency surgery, a month of rest at home, and now 6 weeks of physical therapy. He is going to be fine, thank goodness. But it’s been a very tough summer. Asking for help from my team (husband, my mom, sister, etc.) so I could take breaks to exercise and sleep, really helped me.
And also I had to realize that there were going to be days when I just couldn’t get everything done and my professional responsibilities had to take a back seat. I tried to find small goals for myself and also for my son. Both of us needed to understand that it would be a long road and that we needed to celebrate each small victory along the way.
Are you training for anything now?
I am signed up for two triathlons this September. I am really excited to participate in the Danskin Sprint Triathlon in Sandy Hook, NJ on September 9th. It’s all women and I will be doing it with a large group from my town, many of whom are first time racers. I also registered for an Olympic distance race later in the month and I may have to defer. Getting out the door to ride my bike for 2 hours or more has been very challenging. I know I am probably not going to have time to get ready. But we’ll see. I might surprise myself!
Heather interviewed Olympic gold-medalists, Kristi Yamaguchi and Alexandra Powe Allred, as well as other elite athletes for Think Like an Athlete! Find out the sports strategies they use to manage motherhood here.
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