Reflections from the saddle.
Just like riding a bicycle takes balance and practice, so does being a working Mom (or Dad). Life is a balance no matter what stage you are in. I am currently at a point where I have two kids, ages ten years and four months. I work full time and go to grad school part time while my husband stays home with the baby and makes increasingly tasty soups. Because bicycling is such a big part of my life, it’s no wonder that it’s constantly running through my brain. That is probably why it became apparent to me the other day that there are a lot of correlations between being a working mother and being a bicycle commuter.
Anticipate the Terrain
When you’re on your bike you are likely to encounter hills and other challenges. It’s a good idea to map out your ride and know ahead of time where the hills are, so you can properly prepare for them. Gear down before you get to the hill and mentally prepare yourself to tackle it. Likewise – when preparing for the week one must look at the calendar ahead of time and note when the PTA meeting is, when drama practice get’s over, and when the evening meeting takes place. Preparing ahead of time – and letting the family know your schedule can help make the week run smoother. There may be surprises and you may need to alter your course at times, but at least your less likely to be surprised when your iPhone tells you need to bring treats to the classroom in 15 minutes.
Don’t Get Too Caught up in Gear and Gadgets
All you really need to ride a bike, is a bike. And all you really need to raise a kid, is a kid. It’s easy to get caught up comparing bike accessories with your riding buddies; to eye their new clothes, gear and bike parts with envy. It’s just as easy to fill your living room with brightly colored plastic toys, swings, jumpers and the latest must have educational toys. Will extra gear make your ride more comfortable? Most likely. Will extra toys make parenting easier? Maybe – to a point. Sometimes less is more. The exersaucer is a blessing when you’re cooking dinner and need to put the baby down, but there are so many products on the market now whose manufacturers seem to tell parents that unless their baby has said item they will no doubt be last in their class and never get into college. Talk to other parents to see what they actually used – and talk to other bicyclists to see what their ‘must haves’ are. Utilize the experts around you, you’ll end up saving money and making new play date friends and riding buddies.
Remember to Coast
Sometimes life is so busy it feels like all you’re doing is pedaling as quick as you can to get to the next destination. Wake up, make coffee, get dressed, get the school aged kid up, make lunch, snuggle with the baby, get the kid off to the school bus stop, take the dog out, bike to work, check emails, go to a meeting, make a few phone calls, eat lunch at your desk, check emails, go to a meeting, schedule dentist appointment, make more phone calls, bike home, eat dinner and coast. Put the phone away, don’t check your email. Sit in a chair and hold the baby, go over multiplication cards with the big kid, have no agenda, no time frame (except bed time). Stop pedaling, sit back and feel the cool breeze go over your face. Enjoy the scenery, this is what it’s all about.