Cycling vs. Domesticity

Guest poster Don Blount has some time management issues, and they’re causing trouble with his family life.

BlountOnBikingIn the history of the world a good conversation never began with the words: “We need to talk.”

But that is essentially what my wife said to me recently.

“And it is about your biking,” she added.

Uh oh. I wondered if I had gotten grease on the carpet.

“I don’t want you to stop riding,” she said. “But you’re spending a lot of time away from home on weekends riding. It’s not the days you have club rides. It’s the days that you don’t have club rides,” she said. “And quite frankly, when the kids ask ‘Where’s Daddy?’ I’m tired of telling them, ‘He’s on his bike.’ “

And of course she was right.

The problem was not the time I spent on Saturday club rides, it was the time I spent on solo weekend rides.

But some background first.

At home, I have two daughters, ages 7 and 10. And of course, I work a job that requires more than 40 hours a week.

I ride about four days a week and go to the gym twice a week. During the weekday, I workout or ride before work. On weekends, well that’s where the problem occurs.

Club rides begin at 8 a.m. during this time of the year. Those ride starts are often a good 45-minute drive or longer from my home. So on those days I am out of the house about 7 a.m. And depending on the length of the ride, I am often not home until well after 1 p.m. By the time I get all of my gear put away and myself cleaned up and fed, it could be well past 3 or 4 p.m.

But that’s only two, maybe three times a month if it is a month such as this one with five Saturdays. I usually clear those dates with my wife to ensure they do not conflict with family plans.

However, on weekends when there is no club ride, I still get out to ride. And although I leave from home instead of driving to a starting point I have often been getting out later than 7 a.m. Sometimes I do not get out until after 10 a.m. Three or four hours out during that time of the day when I have been away a long time the previous weekend does not create for good parenting or husbanding.

It is something that empty nesters do not have to contend with but a working man with a wife and kids at home does.

Fortunately, it is a correctable problem. I do not have to stop riding or even cut back my time on the bike. I just have to better manage my time. The easiest solution is to get out earlier on the non-club ride days. I am confident I can do that.

And I am confident that if I do not then I will be sat down for another talk.

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6 thoughts on “Cycling vs. Domesticity

  1. In my fifties I’ve taken to cycling –seriously. I’ve done approximately 4,500 miles for the last 3 years and am on track for the same this year.
    Althought I wished I’d taken up cycling 20 years ago, I realize that it would not have been possible when. Married with 3 children would not have allowed me the time I need/want.
    All my cycling buddies are either single or empty nesters.
    My ‘hobby’ is my obession. I can understand Don’s dilemma.

  2. You’re a parent. You had kids, and you owe them time and care. If you can’t be at home on a weekend by the time they get up, and ready to spend at least one day primarily with them, then you need to rethink your time management. Get out early, bike for an hour, then have energy to spend with your kids. Take them out biking, hiking, to a museum, whatever. Teach them to fix stuff, take care of a garden, use tools. Teach them to cook something. Go to the playground and play. Sometimes take them out one at a time, or just you and the two kids.

    If you’re doing a multi-hour ride, then you’re probably too tired after to want to engage with your kids, so give yourself time when you’re fresh. Yes, playing teatime or whatever isn’t the most stimulating thing ever. Deal. Grow up.

    Do you expect your wife to parent all week and every single moment of the weekend, too? Do you plan so that she can take off from morning until mid-afternoon while you parent?

    I know my response sounds harsh, but there it is. Try keeping track of how much time you spend parenting and evaluate whether you’re doing your share. Do the same with housework, cooking, and so on. Research shows that men on average underestimate the amount of time their partners work at parenting, housework, and cooking, and overestimate their own contributions. (Look at your statement about clearing dates to make sure they don’t conflict with family plans. Why is your wife the one responsible for “family plans”? Shouldn’t you be making some of those plans?)

    You don’t say whether your wife works outside the home or not. But we’re talking weekends and non-work-outside-the-home time. There, your contributions should be equitable. And I especially say this because you’ve got daughters. Do you know that research shows that girls who grow up with a father who’s close and involved in parenting are much less likely to be abused by partners as adults? What do you want to teach your daughters, and how can you teach them through your actions? (By the time they’re teens, your words won’t matter unless your actions have already mattered.)

  3. Jan,

    Actually, I have four children, one son and three daughters. My youngest two daughters are at home, and I think they all would say I am a pretty good dad. I am quite involved with them all and I could tell a number of stories to illustrate that point. What I tried to illustrate with the post are the challenges between finding time to ride and family life. Balance so to speak. Empty nesters or those with regular work hours do not have the same challenges.
    In the post I did not detail the things I do with my family. For example, Sundays are usually our family day. We attend church, then stop for a snack afterward and spend the day at home or elsewhere together.
    This past Sunday afternoon we went to a local museum and then dinner. I also spend plenty of time with my young daughters, taking them to movies, plays, museums, walks, playgrounds, to ride scooters, etc.
    I mentioned checking plans with my wife because she may have scheduled something to do that had yet to be discussed with me. I also did not mention how I am primarily responsible for dinner on weekends so my wife does not have to be responsible for those meals. A few months ago she started a part-time job at my girls’ school. She works about seven hours a week during the school year.
    So yes, I work at being a parent and a husband with the same or even more energy that I work at anything else I am passionate about. If the post came across as a whiney, “I can’t get my me time” then it was poorly written.

  4. Thanks for the clarification, Don! I think from your post, I thought you also spent Sundays cycling alone. Good work, then :)

  5. Hi Don,
    I am Krishna, from Bangalore, India, i regularly following your blog. I have been cycling for the last 1 year , having logged a little more than 1000 miles. Reading this post,i can identify some of the issues you faced with respect to balancing the family time demands and the time spent on cycling.
    I am younger than you, and have a young daughter, but face similar challenges like you do, and i absolutely agree with you that , getting out early on Weekend rides is the best way to have a long weekend day to spend with family. I have been trying to practice the same with partial success!.

    Cheers!,
    Krishna

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