People are always asking me how I find time to ride with a baby. I even get some questionable looks when I talk about competing and my progress at lessons. It is mostly people at work or friends that don’t own horses that seem the most surprised. You mean you have a ten month old and aren’t in your pajamas still at the end of the day? If I’m feeling particularly playful I usually tell them I wear my jodhpurs to bed so I’m ready to go!
Don’t worry, I don’t really do that. Although some of the newer stretchy brands are so comfortable I could.
I have had a mix of reactions from people who own horses also. These range from full support and encouragement to support tainted with notions of being lucky.
For a moment, even the encouraging thoughts I got from people started to make me feel guilty. Was I not being a good mum, or missing something really important because I was riding?
My plan was to be back riding within a few months and would have found time to ride earlier than 5 months post-partum if I hadn’t had issues with my pelvic floor. Tom also suffered quiet badly with reflux in the early days so I spent a great deal of time up at night trying to settle him. I was tired and I’m not going to lie here, I found the newborn baby days hard work. So even if my pelvic floor had of been ok after birth I still may not have had the energy to ride.
All our life circumstances are different. So how you manage and what you can do is completely variable. No particular advice will be right as it’s completely circumstantial.
What I can tell you is that if you’re passionate about something in life, it’s about time management and planning to make it happen. I will admit that there can be some trade-offs and things that you may go without. Some of the things I enjoyed about life before a baby I don’t have time for now because I ride, but I’m totally at peace with that.
I used to love taking my time in the morning and having my coffee first thing. Now I have to get my riding mojo without the coffee because I have exactly 33 minutes before my husband leaves for work! I could get up earlier, but let’s face it I’m so tired from being up with a baby I’m getting the maximum amount of sleep possible.
I often have short quick rides. I work on something and if Den gets it right in 5 minutes I stop there, avoiding being in a situation where I can’t end on a good note as I don’t have more time. Let’s not think about the fact that tacking up took longer than the ride!
If I had the money I would get lights for my arena, then I could ride after Tom went to bed in the evening and have more time. But guaranteed the trade-off here would be that I am so tired from the day that my ride would also be short and lacking energy.
The one thing you really do need in order to ride is a support system. It could be your husband, great instructor that rocks the pram while you ride, your best friend who donates her time, a friend you share babysitting with, grandparents or another mum down the stables that also needs help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help to get something done, you never know the person helping may just be in need of your help too!
One time my husband forgot my usual lesson and had a job booked he couldn’t rearrange, I actually paid a babysitter instead of canceling. I needed that time for myself more than the money the babysitter cost. That’s why we had baked beans for dinner all week! Just joking. But in all seriousness, it’s about trade-offs and what you negotiate to have what you want.
Some days I enjoy my time away from Tom and riding is some much needed space from being a mum. Other days when I have worked and haven’t had time with Tom, I miss him and choose not to ride over having half an hour with him before his bed and bath. Maybe this might have been why I got a 61% instead of 64% on the weekend.
Sometimes the dishes aren’t done in our house for a few days, baked beans on toast for dinner or I had to wear the same joddies twice in a row because I haven’t had time to do the washing. There are never going to be enough hours in the day to get everything done. Pick and choose when things matter and when they don’t, be flexible and just make it work.
Be kind to yourself and remember there is always another day, another ride and another bath time.