When I prepare for a marathon, I have to train. There are weeks, sometimes months of preparation. As a busy dad, while I don’t necessarily train to accomplish my paternal duties, there are definitely some things I can do better to make sure my mornings with the kids don’t end up feeling like running a marathon with no medal. Let’s look at a few of the unbelievable comparisons between being a busy dad in the morning with three crazy kids (under seven years old), and preparing for/running a marathon. How can I do better to make for a happier morning? Here’s how:
The night before a race, I set out my shoes, socks and what I am going to wear for the morning. Why can’t I do the same thing with my kids the night before school? From now on, we are going to lay out all of our clothes for the next day. Shoes and socks will be by the door ready to go and shirt, pants and any additional pieces of “flare” (yes that is an Office Space reference) will be put on and ready before they exit their rooms.
Before a race, there is typically a group warm-up lead by some fitness guru. It’s not so much a real stretching session, but rather a chance to get prepared together as a group. Our stretch warm up begins at the breakfast table. I am going to send them to the table where their multivitamin and b12 supplements are ready to go. This will set them up for a successful day and make sure they have all the adequate vitamins and minerals they need for a successful race…er…day.
At the start of a marathon it’s easy to go too fast too soon. I get really excited and like to punch it, even if just for a few seconds, to feel like I am in front of the pack. While I might feel like a stud momentarily, I know it’s not a good long-term strategy. Similarly, instead of the kids coming downstairs and immediately playing, jumping around, or watching tv, they will calmly make their way to the table. Before coming to the table, they will accomplish one task each. One will put food in the dog’s bowl and the other will be responsible for letting the dog out in the backyard. The third kid is a baby so we will let him off the hook for this one!
During The Race
I focus on my nutrition during a race. It is the single most important aspect for me. I need to keep my eye on the prize. Without eating the right things at the right time, I can’t finish the race the way that I want. Making sure my kids start their day with healthy food is my job. They will finish their breakfast, or at least feel full, before they leave the table.
At The Finish Line
One of the best feelings I have ever had was when I crossed the finish line of the Florida Ironman Triathlon. I was left feeling overjoyed, emotional and downright exhausted, but I did it. The sense of accomplishment I feel when my kids finally make it out the door is very similar to the feeling of completing a marathon…but so much more gratifying. I am responsible for those three little lives. Knowing that they are off for the day with a belly full of nutrition, a healthy lunch, and happy thoughts makes me feel great. I might not earn a medal, but I am definitely winning the race!
You and I both know it doesn’t always happen that way. In fact, my wife and I have gotten off track recently. Maybe it was the holidays or maybe it was the random day off for a teacher workday that threw us off. Whatever it was, it is time to get back on track. Kids need structure. They need small goals to accomplish each morning and they need to leave the house with a smile rather than tears streaming down their face as they roll off to school. I can do it…and I know you can too. If you have gotten off track, get back on. You got this! Make it a great week!
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A huge thank you to Ashley Sanchez of Ashley Sanchez Photography, who provided the inspiration and idea for this post. If you need some amazing family shots, her photo art is incredible.