How many of you have children still at home and how do you manage training/race/travel balance?

SydneDSydneD Senior Member
edited August 2014 in General Discussion
Balancing family and training and work has been tough this summer, especially with a spouse who travels extensively for his work.

I have been wondering how many of you have children still at home and how you best manage your training needs? I'm in a state of feeling perpetually undertrained because there's never enough time. (That pesky work thing gets in the way too.)

In addition, how do you manage traveling as a family for races? I am off to Switzerland on Thursday for the Lake Zurich swim. My husband is my kayaker and we are traveling with our 13-year-old so that adds another layer of organization. We're not quite sure what he's going to do during the swim and that's stressful. Race organizers are helping us with a two-person kayak but even they anticipate he will need to get out about 1/2 way and be taken to the finish area. They've told me "not to worry" but it's definitely a bit nerve-wracking to know you'll be in the water while your 13-year-old child is potentially alone, in another country, waiting for you to finish swimming....

For domestic swims, we've arranged Grandma to come with us, and for the Swim for Alligator Light, he's staying home with her.

It's made me wonder how y'all do it. How old are your kids? What do they do while you are swimming? Any advice or suggestions?


  • timsroottimsroot Spring, TXCharter Member
    With our first child due in January, I am very interested in this thread. That said, my wife has so far expressed verbal support for me doing 1-2 big swims a year, more if they are close to where we live.
  • TimDexTimDex Member
    edited August 2014
    Im lucky, my kids are grown (18 and 20) but still at home for a few more weeks before heading to college. I know at that age they can almost fend for themselves and manage to not burn the house down, although they have come close.
    Im often poolside at 5am and home by 9am ... they are none the wiser that their ol Dad has already got a 10K under his belt. Although, the fact that Im stuffing my face with oats, fruit, yoghurt, PB&J toast and lashings of coffee might give the game away. Mmmm ... second breakfast!
    Good luck for Zurich!
  • ChickenOSeaChickenOSea Charter Member
    My kids are 18 and 14, so it's getting easier to get away. But with full time work, part time study, and kids, I only get in about twice a week. I'm basically untrained for anything I do. But I'm also uninjured, which is a bonus.
  • I have two kids 4 & 9; my wife and I both trained and raced marathons for several years. We both used to do fall/spring marathons and a ton of races throughout the year. The best thing that ever happened to us was the Google calendar that we both use to organize long runs, speed works, who has the kids when our races are and other logistical items. Also very rarely do we do the same event unless family is available not only for the event but for recovery as well. Recovering from a marathon can really make watching a young child excruciating.

    We also found out that getting up very early, before the kids are bouncing around, and getting our workouts in are key. The problem is if you tank a workout and need a redo, there really isn't time so you have to be alright with understanding a training program and not stress about one session. The funny thing is when kids used to go to the grandparents house we would use that time to run together.

    I will say, now that I am not running, it is a bit tougher since we are doing two different sports. I am bound by pool openings and open swim times so there is very little flexibility. It is nice that we are both athletes and understand the need to train. At the same time, both of us are willing to give a bit, especially if it is not a long day or speed session. We also try to make trips out of our events and even try to double up by finding races and swims that are geographically near each other. That way we can just swap watching the kids.

    I read the forums and am absolutely amazed at the mileage a lot of the people do. I know that it is quite difficult for me to do that because of my schedule so I try to focus on quality workouts as much as possible. I also try to do as much dry-land body work as I can. Lots of pull-ups, push-ups, core work, yoga and everything else. I am pretty sure I am perpetually under trained but I take that as part of the challenge of the sport.

    For the kids snacks, games and electronics seems to work best. We are lucky that are kids really like to clap or use noisemakers at most events so they are pretty engaged. When they start getting bored (especially the four year old) we go to some snacks and then the smartphones/electronic devices. I love bringing them to the events because it shows them that all the hard work and sacrifice is worth it.

    Excellence is born of preparation, dedication, focus and tenacity; compromise on any of these and you become average.

  • SydneDSydneD Senior Member
    edited August 2014
    This is the first time we will have been going long distance/internationally for a race without anyone to hang out with my son. It adds an entirely new dimension to the entire experience. I mean, it's one thing for my husband to be in the kayak for hours and hours---which he does amazingly well. It's quite another for my son to be in that boat for the same amount of time, jetlagged and in a country he doesn't know. Not sure any amount of electronics or distraction will be enough because frankly, watching someone swim for 15 miles? Not the most exciting thing in the world---even in Switzerland.

    His reward will be the best Swiss Army knife he can choose. :)

    I am rather lucky on the training part because I have a pool at my home and can train there when I don't go to Masters practice. That said, it's really tough. I look at all of the swimmers on here doing just crazy distances and think "how is that possible?!?" I train for the distances I am swimming, and then sometimes need a little snooze, but there's no way I could add any more to this. I like my kid too much and actually want to see him before that whole college thing. I am also lucky that my job is totally flexible and that I can make my own hours.

    I do, however, work on Sundays so the only day we really have as a family is Saturday, and then if I say "Okay, I have to go swim for 4 hours," that's pretty much shot. I do a lot of stuff in the morning but as I said, my husband travels a lot so I am often the only one here in the morning. (For example, we leave for Switzerland on Thursday, but Tuesday and Wednesday, he will be in Colorado, basically just arriving home in time for us to leave on Thursday.)

    When my son was a baby, I was racing triathlon and that was tough too, but at least I could stick him in a baby jogger and head out for a run, etc. Run time is somehow easier to find than long swim workout time--even with my own pool.
  • KNicholasKNicholas ArizonaCharter Member
    I like to take my kids (14 and 11) on big swim trips but for the most part I rely on family. For MIMS, my parents traveled along so my wife and I could really focus on the swim. I've started having my 14 year old paddle for me - they can go a long way, it's just a matter of keeping focused on where we are going. At a recent Portland Bridge Swim I arranged for two kayaks (at my own expense and transportation which was ALOT of work) so that the kids could be along for the ride. If my kids were younger than 10, I'm afraid I'd leave them at home with family and the open water travel schedule would be minimized. In short, I like to include them in the adventure as much as I can.
  • SydneDSydneD Senior Member
    I've always wanted to do the Portland Bridge Swim. Lived there for 10 years but wasn't a swimmer then.

  • @SydneD thats on my list for next year!
  • JBirrrdJBirrrd MarylandSenior Member
    Haven’t been very good about keeping up w/ my MSF summer reading, but as a mom of three (ages 10, 16 & 19) this thread caught my eye.

    I must confess to feeling parental guilt quite a bit lately b/c of my swimming. As for training, I hit the jackpot w/ a nearby health club pool that opens at 4:15 am. I can get in 3 hours before work b/c my husband is able to get our youngest ready and off to school. There is a small lake I can drive to after work for short ow swims during the week and I head to the bay early Sunday mornings for some ow training with group of swimmers. My supportive husband holds down the fort and I promise to be home by noon.

    I am not doing the race thing well at all. Our children are all competitive swimmers and have their own practice schedules and meets, so I travel without them. Again my husband makes sure the children get to where they need to be. When the oldest is at college, we take a big hit losing her as a driver. The guilt of being away from my family for events is tearing me up. We Skype every night when I am away so that helps somewhat. I wish I could take my family with me on trips, but this is the only way it can work for our family. Hoping to glean some coping ideas from other swimming parents.
  • GordsGords Syracuse, UTCharter Member
    edited August 2014
    I have 7 kids aged from 7 to 18. I started training in 2008 for an EC crossing in 2012, Catalina in 2013, and MIMS in 2014. I did my training early between 5 and 8, then off to work. My wife is a stay at home Mom so that was probably the only way it would have worked for our family.

    For each of the big swims we took one or two of the kids along as a special vacation for them and did a lot of touring afterwards. Those who came along were old enough to come on the support boat and play a role on the crew.

    Many people told me not to include them because they might get sick. Fortunately the patch behind the ear worked for them and none of them got sick and played a important part in the success of each swim. Had I been forced to swim in rough weather that may have had a different outcome, so I was lucky.

    Now I have to figure out 4 more big swims so the younger kids don't accuse me of having favorites, when they get old enough to go.
  • SydneDSydneD Senior Member
    We tied this trip to some extra time in both France and Spain so that makes it more fun for him. He's also been along for Kingdom Swim a few times, Cape May last year, a few other long swims in Vermont, Lake George, etc. He's a veteran which means that basically, he's completely unimpressed. ;)
  • @JBirrrd 4:15 !!! Do you sleep at all? Or have you mastered sleeping while lapping?
  • SydneDSydneD Senior Member
    I don't think he will be tired. More insanely bored. My pace is, ahem, not quite as fast as he would probably like to paddle.

    I will suggest that he be the trip documentarian/reporter. That's a great idea. I could also have him keep a stroke rate log, etc. I have a graph paper journal I could give him to keep swim notes, etc. To keep track of things he's seen along the way, to write messages from he and his dad, etc. He can also be responsible for feedings and timing them.

    I think the thing I sometimes wonder about other parents is whether or not your kids are interested at all. He thinks this is all so Ho-Hum because he's been living with me doing it his entire life so I think it means his patience is a bit diminished. He's spent many, many weekends spectating. He thinks it's kinda cool but is generally totally nonplussed when I get out of the water, and once, told me I'm not "hardcore." Darn. Guess I have to bump it to 20 miles... ;)
  • SydneDSydneD Senior Member
    @Niek - Thank you for the inspiration. I just talked to my son and told him I was designating him "safety officer" for the swim. (He trained and got certified in CPR and First Aid a month after he turned 13, is desperate to do his lifeguarding certification, and is a member of our Community Emergency Response Team, a team of force multipliers for the police and fire departments, so he gobbled the idea up.) I told him he would be responsible for managing my feedings, keeping a log, etc.

    So far, full buy in. Let's see how it goes!
  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member
    4 kids at home. Hard to manage all, but I have a very understanding wife. Most of my swims are local. If I travel, I tend to go alone or take one kid as my support.

    We're all just carbon, water, starlight, oxygen and dreams

  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member
    SydneD wrote:
    This is the first time we will have been going long distance/internationally for a race without anyone to hang out with my son. It adds an entirely new dimension to the entire experience.
    @SydneD, my first open water race was international (Christiansbourg Round in Copenhagen) and I took my then 14-year old. He was the photographer. I was incredibly nervous about leaving him alone. I told him to stay by the start/finish (it was a 2K around the Danish Parliament with the same start/finish line).
    He ended up walking the 2K around the canals, getting pictures of me all along the way. He told me after, and it freaked me out. But the fact that he told me meant he didn't get lost. Thankfully it was Copenhagen where everyone speaks English (better than me) and we had walked the route before hand so he was safe (I'm told myself).

    We're all just carbon, water, starlight, oxygen and dreams

  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member
    SydneD wrote:
    I think the thing I sometimes wonder about other parents is whether or not your kids are interested at all. He thinks this is all so Ho-Hum because he's been living with me doing it his entire life so I think it means his patience is a bit diminished.

    My kids are interested, enough. My girls are swimmers and they enjoy coming to my (local) swims to cheer me or in a couple instances swim with me. My boys are less interested, being 17 and 19.

    We're all just carbon, water, starlight, oxygen and dreams

  • JBirrrdJBirrrd MarylandSenior Member
    edited August 2014
    I could say I go to bed early, but that not be true. Nope, I don't sleep much most nights...too much to do. I drink a lot of coffee.
    Also, I don't swim that early every morning, just when I have longer wk-outs. SydneD asked how we fit it in, this is the only way I can do it. Evenings are family time.
    As far as interest in my hobby, the kids do think it's kind of cool that mom swims too. Just got home from England and my first relay. We've decided that in 2022 we will do a family 4-man relay when the youngest turns 18.....I will be 58 :-)
  • timsroottimsroot Spring, TXCharter Member
    JBirrrd wrote:
    As for training, I hit the jackpot w/ a nearby health club pool that opens at 4:15 am. I can get in 3 hours before work b/c my husband is able to get our youngest ready and off to school.

    I have a similar understanding with the facility that I train in, and am able to get in very early before work. While we have animals and no children for another few months, my wife and I have a similar arrangement for our menagerie at home (3 dogs, 2 cats). In the morning, if I swim, she feeds the animals before she gets ready for work. In the afternoon, whichever of us gets home first usually feeds the animals.
    TimDex wrote:
    @JBirrrd 4:15 !!! Do you sleep at all? Or have you mastered sleeping while lapping?

    Again, my wife is very understanding when I bug off to bed early. I'd prefer more sleep, but I don't have enough time.

  • I am a father of a 13 year old and a 16 year old and envy those who can log all of those thouands of yards every week. I have a very supporting family, but only up to a point. Now that the children are older, it can be easier for me to do early morning or evening practices as long as there is not something going on at school (conferences, concerts, etc.) Someday I would like to do some of the longer swims (Ederle, Tampa) but don't even want to start planning that until they are in college - just too much too put them all through. For many of their younger years I wasn't home because I was trying in vain to make partner at a law firm. While my wife has always been supportive of both endeavors, it has always been hard for me to justify spending so much time out of the house now on "my hobby". They also get seasick and having them on a boat is not an option. I also felt guilty dragging them along to the smaller events which often involved them sitting around in the hot summer sun while waiting for me to come out of the water. As rough as I felt after these swims, they looked even more miserable. Basically, as soon as I dried off, it was "Great job! can we leave now?". They only come out now for the bigger events which are deliberatlely local.
  • SydneDSydneD Senior Member
    @DavidW -- Exactly!!! I feel you completely and what I always think to myself is "He's going to be home for a split second more, and then, off on his own adventures. Why would I miss out on this time with him??"
  • Mike_GemelliMike_Gemelli Rutherford, NJMember
    Good thread @SydneD, I'm constantly feeling the pressure of swapping family time for swimming time. My kids are 7 and 9 and my wife works evenings and every other weekend, so its tough to find the time to train. My base workout is a conveniently scheduled Masters practice every weekday from 6am-7am 2 blocks from my office. That gives be around 15K yards per week and lets me do most of the local races that are 10K and under. To go further I start begging the Grandparents for childcare and throw in some evening sessions at the town pool. From April-November I like to spend weekends at my parent's beach house. I get plenty of distance in the ocean and bay while my kids get quality time with Grandma & Grandpa.

    For dry land workouts I like to practice yoga with my wife and do push-ups, sit-ups, planks and other stuff.

    If all else fails, I just load up the car, take the kids to the beach and body surf with them. I've been taking them in the ocean since before they can walk, so they both love the water. They won't let me sit still on the beach, which can be annoying until I remind myself that they will only be young for so long...then I suck it up and sprint into the waves with them.
  • SpacemanspiffSpacemanspiff Dallas, TexasSenior Member
    I have 3 kids, right in their "prime" in terms of parental demands (ages 7, 11, 13). For workouts, I'm quite lucky. Dallas Area Masters is a robust club with 7 pools and from 5-9 workout times daily. One pool is 6 blocks from my house and offers 5 am and 6 am (or both) workouts MWF. Another is 3 miles from my office and it offers daily lunch hour workouts (among others). To top it off, there is an outdoor LCM workout halfway between my home and office that offers 6:30-7:30 pm distance workouts and my son's lacrosse practice gets finished at 7:30 about a mile away so I can get in an evening workout and be an involved dad/husband. I get a minimum of 15-20K of masters per week and then I try to squeeze in a 5-10K on weekends (50/50 shot).

    In addition, I have a stretch cordz tether for stationary swims at home. Great for short sessions after the kids have gone to bed.

    Events, on the other hand, are a problem for me. I always plan long solos during family vacations (we have annually-scheduled trips to La Jolla, Cozumel and Norther Minnesota). I have to abandon the family for organized events. The good news is: my wife has a strong preference for the fit version of me and knows I'm more diligent with goals, so she encourages 1 or 2 organized events per year. Perhaps in a few years my son's will be old enough for kayak support and I can attempt a channel or two.

    "Lights go out and I can't be saved
    Tides that I tried to swim against
    Have brought be down upon my knees
    Oh I beg, I beg and plead..."

  • SalishSeaSalishSea Nanaimo, BC CanadaMember
    I have 3 kids, 6,8,9 and the only way to get training in is in the mornings. My Wife has an unpredictable job so we never know when she will be home in the evenings but mornings are mine. I am not a morning person the only way I get out of bed and to the pool/lake is to pay myself a dollar every time I do it; that money goes to paying for the races. No train, No cash, No race. As for the long swims my wife and I go on "date night" on Saturday mornings. We have a baby sitter who comes over around 08:00 for around 5 hours and so I can get a 2-4hr swim in while my wife paddles for me then we go for lunch or a matinee movie.

    I also schedule all my kids swimming lessons at the same time so that gives me another 30-40 min in the pool 3 times a week. Which is the perfect length to focus on technique and the mornings are used for building strength.

    Lastly my kids and I workout together. We have a mini gym set up in the garage and the kids hang out there while I am working out. I had to add extra chin up bars and blocks to the walls because my kids really like climbing the walls while I work out. You have no idea how many times I have heard. "Oh no, you are doing push up in the lava get off the floor
  • david_barradavid_barra NYCharter Member
    no kids; no pets; no houseplants (well, 1 small cactus that isn’t very demanding)

    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

  • SydneDSydneD Senior Member
    Houseplants? Who can take care of houseplants?!?
  • SydneDSydneD Senior Member
    That's waaaaaay harder than a kid or a pet.
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