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Five Tips for Training with a Toddler

with RADKA KAHLEFELDT, Liv Racing Collective Triathlete

When I became a mom to my daughter Ruby in 2018, I thought I had figured out how to be a mum, wife and athlete – all at the same time. But, fast forward to today and we are now a family of four. Ruby is almost a 4-year-old with her own personality and her own needs and Indiana is eight months old.

Ruby is at daycare four days a week and I have Indi at home. I am back to what I was doing training-wise when Ruby was a newborn: lots of hours on the treadmill and on the wind trainer while Indi is sleeping. With two little ones, time management is even more important in our lives. We have a routine, but have to be flexible; you can’t break down when something disrupts your plans.

Here are a few tips that have helped me get my workouts in while being a busy mom of two.

1. Find a gym and pool with a crèche/nursery/daycare facility.

This is one of my top recommendations. A little research of the area where you live should turn up some great options for a child-friendly gym and pool. I was lucky that I had the option to choose from three gyms and pools in close proximity from my house.

Regardless of what your goals are, joining a gym with a crèche facility gives mums the opportunity to get some me-time in while their baby is happy playing and socializing with other kids. It is a great way to reset your mind, relax a bit, and have some time for yourself. I really enjoy the time for a shower, steam bath, and stretching or coffee before picking up my happy baby.

Depending on how the crèche/ nursery facility works at your gym, you may be able to book times for a week or so in advance. This commitment is a good way to get you out the door, which is sometimes the most difficult thing to do.

2. Pre-pack your gym bags.

Sometimes I’m so busy getting stuff for my children ready, that I forget what I need for myself! So, I try to have a swim bag in my car all the time so I can’t forget anything. I also try to prepare my gym bag in the evening when the kids are asleep, so I have everything ready in the morning.

3. Get your bike training done indoors.

I do most of my bike training indoors on a wind trainer. Using an indoor trainer, I can get solid training done in less time than I would riding outside at any time of day. In my case, I usually have Indi at home with me in the mornings while Ruby is at daycare. I’ll typically play with Indi and get housework done until she looks like she’s ready for a nap. Then, I’ll get my training place setup and get dressed so I’m ready to start training when she starts to sleep. Indi used to nap in a bassinet next to my bike or treadmill – surprisingly, the noise helped her sleep through the whole training session (most of the time). Now, she’s too big for the bassinet, so she sleeps in her cot with a baby monitor. I just put the monitor next to my wind trainer or treadmill and I can see that she is –hopefully– sleeping peacefully.

4. Don’t miss an opportunity to go outside.

Yes, I get most of my bike training done inside. But having said that, I still try to ride outside whenever possible. I try to ride outdoors two times per week, mostly for my long rides. It is important to ride outdoors as you may forget important riding techniques and handling skills. It is great to get out and enjoy a real bike ride in nature.

5. Post-ride nutrition is a must.

I have learned to not get frustrated when for some reason my planned training doesn’t happen that day. Sometimes, it just doesn’t work out! But, I’ve also discovered how important it is to be flexible with my training. If Indi isn’t sleeping, I can still go for a run and have her with me in my running pram, or I can just do a mom and baby “gym” session. That is always a lot of fun.

I love the saying “HAPPY MUM, HAPPY BABY” – it’s true! I want to be the best mum I can be, but I know that I can’t be the best mum if I stop doing what I love. Some days, I am really tired (sleepless nights with a teething baby) and I think there’s no way I can train the next day. But then I decide to just give it a go, and most of the time I feel 100 percent better after some exercise. I’m happier and have more energy to devote to my kids.

I know that if I can keep training with two children, I will be a strong athlete as every day makes me stronger not just physically but also mentally. You really have to love your sport if you can manage to do it with children. But trust me, everything is possible.