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How I Balance My Training Schedule As a Single Mom
Finding balance in the chaos of life.
The first piece of advice I received upon signing up for a Jiu-Jitsu gym was to set a realistic training schedule and stick to it. For me, two days a week was something I could manage, so that’s what I started with, but I knew this was subject to change.
I’m a single mom of two boys, 4 and 10, and I’ve been financially, physically, and mentally responsible for both of my kids since day one. Being the sole provider sometimes can impact my training schedule.
My older son started training about a year before I did, so I have to manage both of our schedules. In the beginning, I was going to the adult class right after his kid’s class. I played with my younger son while my older son trained, then while I trained, I packed dinner for both of them and they sat on the side to eat and hang out.
A few months in, my younger son grew into more of a rambunctious toddler that just wanted to go home, play and run around, so just as I was settling into my new routine, I had to change it.
Getting used to training Jiu-Jitsu is hard in itself, but developing a new routine around it and then having to change that routine once I found my flow made me feel like I was taking two steps back. I briefly considered taking a break until he “grew out of it,” but part of me knew that once I stopped, it would be a lot harder to start back again so I stuck with it and figured out a new routine that worked for both of us to still consistently train.
Around 6-7 months into training, I felt like I hit this wall of information overload. I was learning a new sport, working full time, trying to get back in shape and improve my overall health, being mom full time and I was also doing online school at the time. I was constantly retaining information and multi-tasking, my brain felt so exhausted by around 4-5pm each day and when the 6:15pm class came around, I was struggling to focus.
As the drills were being explained, I was completely in a different world in my head running through all of the things I needed to do and having conversations with myself about all of this new information. I was constantly relying on my partner to show me what I needed to do, and I felt like the information was gone as soon as I left class.
I knew I had to make some adjustments for my energy.
For starters, I got strict with my work schedule. Some days I wake up earlier to get ahead on my to-do list so that I have time for lunchtime workouts, drilling, or movement training. Incorporating movement training and solo drills at home has been a game-changer for my Jiu-Jitsu. As I was becoming more familiar with not only how my body moves but how my body can move against someone else’s body, the information was starting to click and stick. I felt that as the body movement piece felt more natural, the more I could understand.
I’ve been training for 10 months now and most weeks, I train three days a week, and my oldest son trains two days a week. Monday evening, Wednesday noon, and Friday afternoon women’s comp class is my usual schedule. My son trains Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.
With Tuesday having two sports and Wednesday having double training (me and my son), those are our busiest days. Mondays are a busy work day for me, so Monday through Wednesday are my busy days and I have to be on my p’s and q’s pretty much all day long. Thursday and Friday are a little more laid back and a much-needed change of pace from the fast-paced schedule at the beginning of the week.
If I want to stick to that schedule every week, I have to be consistent in other areas of my life too.
Jiu-Jitsu teaches me self-discipline on and off the mat.
Mondays are the only night my kids hang out by themselves. My older son is now old enough to watch my younger son, so before I go, I have to make sure dinner is prepped or already made and my oldest son has everything he needs for the next few hours. I usually leave a small to-do list for my oldest son so that when I come home, there’s not much left for me to do and I can just clean myself up, have some dinner and relax.
Tuesdays are very busy, so I start my day earlier than usual. My older son has disc golf club right before Jiu-Jitsu, so I have to be packed with a change of clothes, his bag with his gi and rash guard in it, snacks, water, and out the door no later than 4:05 pm to pick up my youngest son from daycare, pick up my oldest son from the disc golf club at his school and then get him to class. Daycare and school are close by, but the total drive time to pick up both kids and get to the gym in a little bit of traffic is anywhere from 30-45 minutes.
To train in the middle of my day on Wednesdays, I have to be caught up with my work, and even be a little ahead that way when I come back from class, I’m not rushing to get back to work and can take the time to shower, make a smoothie and eat lunch. Since I work from home, I have the flexibility to get up early and get ahead on my to do list. I typically don’t do an at-home workout Tuesday on my lunch break and get to my computer early on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings so that I can make it to the noon class.
I also have to shut down my work day around 4pm (I work until 4:30pm on non-training days) on Tuesdays and Wednesdays to pick up my younger son from daycare and get my oldest son to his class.
On Fridays, I take my kids somewhere to play while I train, so I get them dropped off and then head to my class. In order for all of this to flow smoothly and for me to keep everyone on schedule, as I mentioned, I have to be consistent in other areas of my life too. If not, the exhaustion from it all wears on me quickly.
What I do while I’m not training is just as important as what I do during training.
My alarm wakes me up at anywhere from 5-5:30 am. I start my day with yoga and meditation before anything else. These two things get me in the headspace I need to deal with everything I have to do and stay on schedule. Once I’m done with my morning routine and feed my dog and cat, I check my emails and write a to-do list for my work day. Then, I get the kids up, make breakfast, make lunch for my older son and then get them both dropped off at daycare and school. When I get back home, I start my work day.
On Sundays before I even start my week, I make sure to have meals prepped, snacks ready to grab and go and rash guards and gi’s washed.
On the days I don’t train, I try to do movement drills along with my lunchtime workouts and/or lightly roll with my son since we’re almost the same size.
It’s really nice and convenient to have a training partner at home. I like to tell him to put me in mount and not let me get up, that way I’m always working on my mount escapes. Being a smaller white belt, I end up in mount quite often.
Balancing my training schedule as a single mom isn’t always easy, but as long as I stick to my routine, my schedule happens according to plan most weeks. For me personally, sticking to a morning routine is the biggest factor for being able to manage it all.
The sport itself teaches you self-discipline, but it also encourages self-discipline in every other area of your life too. Training consistently has taught me how to train consistently. There was a lot of trial and error at the beginning and a lot of thoughts about giving up or taking a break.
Jiu-Jitsu teaches you how to solve problems, both in life and in martial arts.
I know there are more obstacles ahead in my Jiu-Jitsu journey, and I’m sure my schedule will change again at some point. Things happen that are out of our control, especially when you have kids, but even when it gets hard and seems unmanageable, there’s always a way to make it work for you. It’s up to you to figure out how to make it work.
Today’s article was written by guest author Ashlee Stoeppler.
Ashlee is a white belt training at Profectus Jiu-Jitsu in Nashville, TN, a mother of 2 sons, and a writer. To read more of her ideas, you can follow her on Twitter.
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