Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Mom with Balls

Ever since my oldest daughter starting playing organized sports, I've noticed that it's usually the dads, not the moms, who volunteer to coach. I can count on one hand (not even using all five fingers) how many whistle-clad women I've seen on the courts and fields over the past three years. And while I've helped coach soccer with my husband, it wasn't until I was running warm-up laps with Cady's basketball team last night that it really hit me: I was the only mom coaching, and the only coach running.

Might sound like a little toot of my own horn, but it's really not. You see, I was just a substitute coach for the night. The real coach, a dad coach, was out of town so I volunteered to fill in. The girls were excited. "I think they really liked you," Cady told me on the drive home. It was an unspoken connection; I felt it too. The same kind of connection I had with my favorite (and only female) high school coach. The kind of connection I hope my girls feel a lot in the future.

There's an easy explanation for daddy-dominated coaching: smells like quality family time. But the paradox is that in addition to having positive relationships with our daughters, we also want them to have strong female role models. Turns out that dads who participate in traditionally feminine activities like baking and cooking with their daughters do a lot to promote more egalitarian values in their daughters. (That, by the way, goes for sons, too). Makes sense to assume that moms who participate in non-traditional roles do the same. It's more than that, though, isn't it? Mom's who get and/or stay fit with their daughters also set an example of lifelong fitness for girls and women.

So, is a dad's time spent coaching his daughter's basketball or soccer (or insert any sport here) team more meaningful than a mom's? Definitely not. Every girl needs a mom with balls.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

See CINDY Sweat: Sick kids don't sideline this mama

Since fall is an easy time to let the ups and downs of motherhood make fitness a low priority, I've decided to use this post to honor a friend of mine who works hard to keep moving. Cindy is the mother of three young children ages 8, 6, and 3; her regular routine was rocked last week when two of her three kids got sick. Here's how she managed to get hot and sweaty through a week of poop and puke.

See Mom Sweat: Your house has been a Petri dish of germs this week. When you weren't scrubbing the vomit off your couch, how did manage to get your workouts in?

Cindy: I wasn't just scrubbing vomit off the couch (and rug!), I was also scheduling doctor appointments, preparing for my substitute teacher, attending an evening work meeting, and picking kids up from school and day care. How did I manage to get my workouts in? How could I make it through my week WITHOUT them? On Monday I ran out the door as soon as my husband got home from work and made it back just in time for family dinner and homework. On Tuesday I got in a quick four mile run on the treadmill after the kids went to bed. (I used to think four miles was not worth getting sweaty over, but I've had a change of heart this week.) Wednesday was another treadmill run during the day when I was home with a sick child. I had to take Thursday off, but ran outside on Friday with my sick three-year-old. Thank goodness for the jogging stroller and our winter guard to keep the elements out. He actually had a GREAT nap in the stroller!  

See Mom Sweat: You were parenting solo this weekend, weren't you? How did you run with no husband and three kids to wrangle?

Cindy: Since Alan was out of town, I ran on the treadmill on Saturday morning. I watched a movie while running and it made seven miles go by super fast. My eight-year-old daughter is a great help while I am on the treadmill by making sure my three-year-old doesn't destroy the house!  

See Mom Sweat: On the day you weren't able to fit fitness into your day, did you feel any sort of resentment or disappointment? 

Cindy: I know I have to put my family first, but I still feel a bit of disappointment when my plans don't go as expected--especially when I know I won't be able to get a workout in the next day. To increase my odds of getting in a run, I plan out the next day, carving out an hour for "me time." I know that I am a much better mom and wife if I can run during the week. If I can't fit the workout in because of something unexpected (or expected), I try to take a few minutes in the evening before bed to lift a few weights and/or do some sit ups and stretches. It gives me a short amount to time to do something good for my body and reflect on my day.

See Mom Sweat: Now that the kids are coming back around and feeling better, have you learned anything that you'll apply to your fitness regimen (mentally or physically)?

Cindy: I hope we are on the tail end of the sickness in our house! Reflecting on the week I can count my blessings: A great treadmill and TV, a jogging stroller with winter guard (and a three-year-old who loves to ride in it), a supportive husband who encourages me to run, and three children who have a mom that knows she is happiest when she gets her workout in. Getting daily exercise can be a juggling act, but it's definitely worth it for me.

Note: As of Sunday Cindy's kids were all on the mend. Last night, on our evening run, I learned two of them are back down...  but she vows to keep moving.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Halloweeny Kind of Family Fitness

Halloween was no small affair when I was a kid. It's not that we got tons of candy--it was pretty much the opposite actually. But we lived in a relatively rural area so we had to cover a couple of miles to hit the less than ten houses in our neighborhood. Calorically speaking, we earned our candy.

This year, while out with my girls on Halloween night, a young Cinderella joined us for part of trick or treating. She was just a year older than Cady (who is now in third grade), and asked if she could walk with us while her mom followed along in their car on the street. I saw other families doing the same thing, so I'm guessing this might not be as odd a practice as I'd like to think. Fitness is probably not on the top of the priority list at home. They likely don't realize that by not walking with their kids they are making a very clear statement about what is not important in life. As we parted ways and her mom said thanks, I thought about the mommy-daughter time she was missing out on, hoped she was hiding a broken ankle in the darkness of her car.

The girls and I managed to hoof it six blocks (three out and three back). Not a bad distance to cover for a four-year-old, probably a pretty good jaunt for an eight-year-old at the tail end of a busy weekend, too. Sure, I ended up carrying Maggie the last block and a half, but it was time well-spent--outside, together, and getting a little exercise. The candy hasn't turned out to be all that important to the girls; they keep talking about the houses, the costumes, and the long walk in the dark. And of course, they're already talking about next year, too. What should I be? Will you dress up next year? and, Will you come with us again? Not so sure on dressing up, but I will definitely be out there.  I'll join them for as long as they'll let me.