Learning to let go when you cannot fit a workout in is key to keeping your sanity (whether you have kids or not). Life happens and you have to just roll with the punches. Mastering letting things go helps to build mental strength and prepares you for anything race day. Yoga and meditating greatly help build these skills.
Set priorities for specifics in work, family, home, friends, and training life. You have to really want it and make sacrifices for your goals. Sometimes the laundry won't be put away and the counters will be full of clutter. Embrace that reality, take a deep breath and realize it's a momentary sacrifice for your goals. Volunteer commitments, such as coaching soccer or volunteering for PTA, probably aren't in the cards when taking on longer distances such as 70.3 or 140.6. There are only so many hours in a day and we can't do it all or you risk running yourself ragged. That's not good for your health, family, or racing.
I've found being organized really helps my life balance. Have your things together the night before... the kids lunches and clothes for the next day, your workout clothes and fuel, have your tires aired and gear together, even put as much of your breakfast together as you can, have the coffee set to just turn on or automatically turn on in the morning.
Find Your Village
It takes a village to do a triathlon as a mom. Spouses, partners, grandparents, uncles, aunts, close friends, amazing babysitters, or awesome neighbors can be key to your success. People you know and trust can help out with the kids while you workout. Another option is using a gym with an excellent childcare center. The gym childcares usually will watch your children for two hours. You can also pair up with other triathlete moms and trade child watching and training. There are sitter search websites to find sitters and nannies such as care.com or in Houston, Motherhood Center has a search service (for a fee of course). Our neighborhood newsletter has a list of neighborhood teens looking for jobs (see if your's does too). They are listed by what jobs they are seeking along with whether or not they are CPR certified. Another option is a drop off daycare like Adventure Kids Playcare. They are great in a pinch!
Your village includes your kids. Make them a part of your training and racing. It sets a good example for them and creates fun family memories. To create some memories and more training time, invest in a good running stroller and bike trailer to train with your kids in tow. It can be a great bonding experience and set a good example for the kids once they are old enough to safely ride in either (jogging strollers usually have carseat attachments and can run with infant as long as surface is smooth and trailer child usually needs to be 1yr). They will love being with you and seeing your achievements.
Make a game out of it. Sometimes we count the birds or rabbits along the path or name the shapes we see in the clouds. We also find fun landmarks for them to look forward to. For example, on one of my routes, there is a bush that looks like a rabbit. My daughter enjoys spotting it every time we pass and coming up with stories about the “bunny bush”. Other landmarks, such as the long wooden bridge along the path, provide entertainment for my children as they try to look for alligators or other wildlife.
Having your family at your races is a great example to set for your kids. Most kids love to cheer on athletes and meet you at the finish line. They can learn about good sportsmanship by your example. If you don't hit your goal let them know there will be other races and if you win a podium spot congratulate your fellow athletes on their job well done. Be positive.
Your village extends beyond family and friends. Enlist the help of other professionals and services when you need the help. A dietitian, experienced working with athletes, can help you plan healthy meals for you and your family. If planning yourself pick simple yet wholesome foods for healthy meals. My favorite cookbooks for healthy family meals are: The Runner's World Cookbook, Cook Without a Book Meat Meatless Meals, Runner's World Meals on the Run, Danielle Walker's Against all Grain Meals Made Simple, Run Fast Eat Slow, and Paleo for Vegetarians: Quickstart Guide and 30 Recipe Cookbook. When you put good quality food in your body you feel good and it helps you to be a happy mother and healthy athlete. Many grocery stores now have a pick up or delivery service such as Instacart. The hour or more you would have spent shopping can become family or training time.