Friday, 24 April 2015


James made me giggle earlier this week with a great blog post about life as a sporty couple. I nodded along at quite a few points, but life as a sporty family is a different kettle of fish again - and that kettle mostly involves laundry and passing each other like ships in the night. Here's what our week often looks like:

Monday: School swim for Eldest, sometimes a run for me (one load of kit) or yoga, karate for me in summer (whites-only wash then iron). Youngest has PE in school (no kit to wash)

Tuesday: Short pool swim for me (wash kit with normal load), sometimes a run for me. Eldest has PE in school (no wash til half-term)

Wednesday: Karate for Eldest, Youngest and me, (load of whites then iron), run for DH (different load)

Thursday: After-school swimming lessons for Eldest & Youngest, longer pool swim for me (one complete load of swim kit)

Friday: Run for me (wash kit with school uniforms)

Saturday: Karate for both kids and me in winter, or OW swim kit in summer (whites load then iron, plus Robie etc in separate wash; dry & check wetsuit for repairs if used), sometimes also my running kit and Eldest's occasionally

Sunday: Run for DH, god knows what else as sometimes there are karate seminars or extra swims.

And I have to keep on top of all the non-laundry kit too - four pairs of goggles, caps, three sets of sparring mitts & pads & gumshields & belts, MP3 players, TomTom and Poolmate, goggle demister, earplugs, snacks, shampoo, water bottles, gels, memberships, licences, attendance cards...sheesh. The cycle is endless and the only way I keep it all together is by immediately reloading each person's bag as soon as the kit is dry, having duplicates, and paying for as much as possible in advance - or keeping a sharp eye on having enough cash available to pay various instructors. I also need to keep up with the endlessly-changing timetables for three or four pools, cherry-picking the free sessions as much as possible (we are very blessed with these in Blackburn!).

What does it mean for us as a family? For the girls, it's actually not too bad - it's quite structured; we do karate mostly together so there's lots to talk about, and DH gets to watch their progress through the summer period. There's a quick handover from Mum to Dad on Thursdays as I head straight out from their lessons to hit a known quiet session at a more distant pool. Eldest fits in three music practice sessions a week for both instruments as well, plus homework, and this will get more complicated as Youngest gets older and develops her interests in different ways too.

As partners it does mean DH and I never get to train together as someone always has to be there for the girls. This is no bad thing, really, as his running pace is a lot faster than mine, and since my work/college hours are less than a full working week, I can do a fair bit of my training flexibly on week days and leave him free to train in an evening or Sunday morning. We also don't need two lots of expensive kit and can share a GPS watch, emergency kit, running lights etc.

The difficult bit is attending events, either to compete (such as it is, since neither of us are exactly top athletes!) or support. Many of my events this year are falling on a Sunday or over a full weekend, which steals his Sunday morning training and we have to move everything around to accommodate it. It also means I can't respond as much as I'd like to when people say "ooh, come and swim at Pickmere/Gaddings/Budworth/Copenhagen", because it's not just my schedule I have to consult, but three other calendars! It's often a negotiation as delicate as UN peacekeeping to fit everyone's training around extras.

Also we kind of eat like horses and the rare evenings we get that aren't dominated by training, preparing kit for the next day, study or work tend to involve beer, popcorn and a colossal amount of telly...but we're mostly having fun, mostly fairly fit, and we have an enormous number of friends we've met through sport. Life is pretty good!