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Making it work.. How do you?

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  • Making it work.. How do you?

    You know, the balance of family, work, life, horses.... Every time I think I have a handle on it, I find the balance eludes me.

    I finally have the right horse, and she's at the right barn, with the right trainer! However it is still a long(ish) commute. And, between the kids, their schedules, hubby's job, my job... a week goes by in a blink and I realize I've not been there.

    We had been in the process of purchasing a farm but that fell through, and we've decided to stay put for now. Which means I need to work this out somehow, as she will not be in the backyard, which I had hoped would give me more riding time.

    If I didn't love the horse so much, I would throw my hands up, sell her, and take a break. It is getting *that* hard to keep at it. But I do like the horse, I think she will be a good partner for a lot of years, so I really don't want to part with her.

    I thought it would be easier (ha ha) as the kids got bigger, but the truth is they have activities and things that now overtake my riding time.

    Do I ride early in the AM? Pay a sitter a few times a week to watch little #2 so I can go ride? Half-lease mare out for awhile?

    How are other people juggling the balance? Any advice?
    We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.

  • #2
    My schedule is not as crazy as yours (no kids), but I do work nearly full-time so I know what that's like. I guess I can sum up my answer to your question by what I told my husband recently: "No matter what happens, I'm not giving up riding ever again." And I mean that sincerely. Riding will always be a priority from here on out. Take it from me, I took time off for various reasons. With my level of passion for the sport, I'd be a LOT farther along had I kept going consistently. I'd rather make some sacrifices now, than quit again only to find two years from now I get the itch, but I now have to make up for lost time AGAIN. I'm not saying you should sacrifice your family time or work, but you must find time to ride if it's that important to you. As you said, ride early, before work, if that's what it takes. Or hire a sitter if you can. That's just my advice. I wouldn't trade riding for the world.
    I saw the angel in the marble and I set him free. - Michaelangelo


    • #3
      I hear ya, and I have mine here, they are not in training (all I want is an hour or two to go for a ride), and my kids are old enough to not need sitters. But their activities seem never-ending at times.

      Do a half-lease if it will help keep the horse at a level of training you want more than if it was just ridden by you. Otherwise the best advice I can give is to not expect a lot right now, but do what you enjoy most in what time you can scrape up. If that means getting up early once/week and riding by yourself, put it into your schedule. If you really want lessons, then get a sitter once or twice/week and do that.

      Maybe consider this: if you make time to ride, will you feel happy and satisfied with what you can do, or will you feel stressed that you aren't accomplishing enough or that you should be doing something else with your family?

      I only trail ride and take lessons in the winter for fun, so I don't have any training goals that have a deadline. If your horse is what you want and isn't going to grow old and die before you get more time (hopefully), then I say keep her. You could find a farm in a year or two or three, which isn't all that far off with the way time flies by these days.


      • #4
        Um, I haven't ridden my horse in 4.5 years now (kid #1 will be 4 next week, there seems to be a correlation, ha!) so I hear ya'! I am trying to get back in the saddle again myself, but similar problems...and it doesn't help that my horse is an hour away (and I don't want to bring him closer because it wouldn't be worth the money to board him somewhere near me when I never ride him).

        I might try to find a half-lease if I were you, or maybe a sitter...it's so hard to make it all work!

        I'm lucky in that my horse is in a pasture at my mom's house - I miss riding but I know he's fine and not cooped up in a stall. Hopefully 2013 will be the year for me to ride again, but even then, my goals have changed - I'd love it if I could ride once a week, as opposed to actually showing and training and all that fun stuff I did before kids!

        And what I'm reallllllly hoping is that my daughter likes to ride when she's older so I'll "have" to go to the barn.


        • #5
          I hope I'm not trivializing your concern, but riding is a priority for you if you make it one. Just like the kids activities go on the calendar and you plan around that, so should your riding time. I don't know how much your husband is helping shuttle everyone around and keep an eye on him, but maybe you need to look at how much he is and adjust.

          I don't have children but I am married, am the primary cook/housekeeper, go to college part time (2 classes) and have 1 horse. So, I can definitely relate to having to time manage.


          • #6
            When my youngest was a new born, I traded baby sitting for riding time. I put an ad up and found someone who was willing to give me so many hours of baby sitting per week for time on my horse.

            It worked very well for almost a year, until I moved to Idaho. Maybe something like this would help your situation?


            • #7
              Originally posted by FlashGordon View Post
              I thought it would be easier (ha ha) as the kids got bigger, but the truth is they have activities and things that now overtake my riding time.

              Do I ride early in the AM? Pay a sitter a few times a week to watch little #2 so I can go ride? Half-lease mare out for awhile?
              For the activities try to coordinate with other parents, eg, you drop off, other parent picks up, or alternate days etc

              If DH can't/won't, just look into a sitter - check out the grandmas, other moms, teens Also ask at the barn, are there any teens that will childmind while you ride

              Write a list of things you do for yourself, your DH, your kids - I suspect you'll be surprised at how low you are on that list: your family WILL benefit from the happiness you'll feel from actually getting out to ride your mare.


              • #8
                It definitely involves compromises. I teach, and during the school year I resign myself to riding 3 days a week. I ride on the weekend and on Wednesday. At the start of this school year my husband agreed to arrange his work schedule so that my Wednesday ride could be a standing date. He picks up our son from after school activities that day and handles homework and dinner. I'm fortunate to have a horse that can handle that schedule and to not have "lofty" riding goals that would require daily riding. In a pinch on the weekends (if DH has to work) my son (age 8) has, in the last year or so, become very accommodating about accompanying me to the barn and entertaining himself while I ride. As alto said above, pencil yourself in on the schedule and then hold to it.


                • #9
                  I may need to put on a flame suit, here, but.... You may/probably * gasp * need to reduce how much the children do in order to have time for yourself. If your finances allow, hire someone to do all the driving back and forth, and the homework supervision time.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by ACP View Post
                    I may need to put on a flame suit, here, but.... You may/probably * gasp * need to reduce how much the children do in order to have time for yourself. If your finances allow, hire someone to do all the driving back and forth, and the homework supervision time.
                    FGs kids are little; they probably aren't doing that much...I know when my girls were that young they really didn't have many (any?) outside activities. But little kids go to bed early...I remember 6:30-7pm being bath and pj time, and my youngest would be in bed by 7:30, my 6 year old in bed by 8. That is not many hours with them between school and bedtime - fitting in a meal, homework, and playtime!

                    I think your best ideas would be to try to get a sitter for at least one morning a week to watch the little guy, and then also try to ride on Sat. or Sun. and have dad watch the kids. I'd look around the barn to see if there is a quiet teen or adult rider looking for a steady mount for 2-3 other rides a week. Then your horse is getting some work, but not all from you.

                    It will be a tradeoff, for sure -- you may not get as many "good" rides as the half-lease rider...but since she's at such a great barn it seems worth having someone ride her. The other thought is that if you trust the barn, maybe you would be willing to let them use her in 1-2 lessons a week. Obviously that has it's own issues, but in a lesson your mare is going to be ridden under supervision.

                    I feel your pain! Good luck!


                    • #11
                      I'm not sure if your children are school age or younger, but when mine wasn't in school I traded time with 2 other mothers. M,W,F the kids went to someone's house for 2-3 hours (no meal involved, just a snack) and played. It worked really well for me on two levels: 1. It gave me 2 weekdays to ride 2. Even when the kids were at my house it wasn't "work" to have them over. They were excited about the new environment and they all played well together.

                      Before I had that, I would hire a sitter for 2 afternoons a week. If I couldn't find a sitter old enough to stay home with my son, I dragged them with me to the barn.

                      Prior to having my son I was riding 5-7 days a week (2 horses). After having my son I was riding 2-3 days a week. This was fine, as I had chosen to add another person into my life, so you expect to have a bit of a challenge with the calendar and scheduling.

                      My son is now 11 and is a very active boy (Football, lacrosse, carving, hunting, fishing, friends,........). I don't work full time so that I can be the one to get him to and from these events. I am able to do some of my riding during the week (2-3 days) and try to sneak in a short ride 1 weekend day and hope to get a whole day to "piddle" at the barn.

                      My husband works a fairly flexible schedule, but also travels a lot. He has always known that my time with the horses is sacred, and tried to make sure that I had some time at the barn/riding each week.

                      I think its important to realize that yes your wants and needs are important, but so are the wants and needs of everyone else in your family. Your work responsibilities are important. Each of these things will ebb and flow through your life, each taking center stage at a different time. Taking time to reflect on each and whether they are getting the attention they need on a regular basis will help you to know whether your balancing act is working.
                      Also realize that at times the balance can get out of whack and figure ways you can get it back in order.

                      Wishing you the best.


                      • Original Poster

                        Thanks guys for all the great suggestions and the perspective.

                        As S1969 said, my kids are young at 6.5 and 2.5. I think I am mostly feeling the burn from the weekends-- saturdays are spent running the 6.5 year old to and from dance classes all afternoon. (She has a couple classes with breaks in between, and is too young to stay at the studio on her own) Sundays I teach beginner lessons at a different barn almost all day. So I pretty much miss out on prime weekend time. During the week, hubby works long hours so I handle the bulk of the childcare, homework (you'd be surprised how much homework at 1st grader gets!) meals, bedtime, etc. Sometimes I will head out to the barn around 8pm but it's dark and cold now and less fun, lol!

                        I think I may try to find a local college kid or something that can sit with the wee guy 2 mornings a week, so I can sneak out to the barn during the day. I like the idea of trading riding time on my horse for a few hours of babysitting, that's a unique and creative way to go about it. I know a few girls that might actually be interested in such an arrangement.

                        I did just start letting my trainer use her limitedly in lessons. My trainer has very good judgment so I trust she is putting appropriate riders on her. (She is easy and honest, but still a green TB.) And I feel less guilty about not getting there as I know she's getting worked. Thankfully the care and turnout at this barn is fabulous so I don't stress about that anymore. Well worth the extra $$.

                        I think I am just frustrated at the continual lack of progress and the constant battle to make time to get out there and ride. It seems someone else's needs are always a priority over mine.... I am sure that is a plight that is not unique to me, just a common dynamic of a young family.

                        Anyway thanks all for the great suggestions and for giving me a little perspective. I'm usually pretty good at digging in and making it happen but I think I was feeling a little extra frustrated this weekend!
                        We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.


                        • #13
                          I had this same issue when living in MI. Between commuting to and from work (about 2 hours a day) and running the (teenaged) kids to and from stuff and making dinner and whatever...getting to the barn felt impossible during the week. Then the weekends were often full of extended family obligations or activities or just catching up on house/yard work.

                          If you can afford it, I would recommend finding a sitter who can come 2-3 days per week for a bit and then consider a half lease 2-3 days per week so that your horse stays in shape, you don't have to feel guilty about not getting out there daily, but you also have carved out time to get to the barn.

                          Really, you can substitute "barn" in that last sentence for any kind of "me time" activity. If you don't schedule it for yourself, it won't happen. Even then, if you're like me, I kept letting other things creep into my schedule and the only time that was left to sacrifice was the "me time."

                          It really takes a shift in mentality though. Even though I'm not working now (as of what? less than 3 weeks ago) I still find myself skipping the barn to take care of other things because it's quite a hike and a big block of time. I'm working on putting together a schedule that will work better for me.

                          The funny thing is that until kids, I was able to juggle a pretty demanding job and the barn. But kids add a whole other level. You want to be there and be supportive, things seem to pop up without a whole lot of notice, and I have to admit, I find myself having tremendous guilt for saying, "I'm sorry, I already have plans." Because I feel like me going riding shouldn't take precedence over the kids/husband/family. Wait. Correction. I feel badly because I DO feel like it should take precedence if I planned it and they didn't give me notice, so I drop my horse time and go. LOL You'd think I had a Jewish grandmother on the one shoulder and a Catholic grandmother on the other! I've got more than enough guilt to go around! LOL

                          Anyway. Good luck. I'd just try to block out some time for you a few days per week, plan a sitter, and then go. Even if you don't feel like riding, a child free trip to the grocery store might be nice!
                          A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                          Might be a reason, never an excuse...


                          • #14
                            can your daughter not do multiple classes on Sat? why are you teaching riders and not riding yourself? where is DH? can't he take some of the work???

                            For me, I start work at 6:30am in order to ride (I work FT+ commute). My DH also helps a lot with the pets/house. No kids by choice. Moved barns to be closer.


                            • #15
                              You actually have a much better chance of finding a part-leaser for your horse if you DON'T ride on the weekend, as is the case. Most people have more time for riding then. I've seen part leases go very sour when both the owner and the part-leaser wanted to ride on the weekend.

                              Good luck!
                              You have to have experiences to gain experience.

                              1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"


                              • Original Poster

                                Thanks all for the continued good advice. I feel a little more hopeful today.... Mr. FG just started a new job that should be a lot less demanding of his time, which means less stress for everyone and less of me having to juggle all the kid/household duties during the week on top of my own part-time job.

                                I've been thinking about letting go of the teaching gig on Sundays.... I love my wee beginner students and enjoy the people at the barn where I work, but it eats up a lot of my weekend time and I don't exactly make a ton of money doing it.

                                I'm hoping having my mare in the lesson rotation at the barn where she's boarded might mean that one of the students falls in love and wants to half-lease her. I remember being a teenager and riding the adults' horses... I used to wonder why they didn't have more time, why they were not at the barn every day... LOL. Now I know the answer to those questions!

                                My daughter is getting to the point where she's old enough to come to the barn with me and she has a reasonable understanding of safety and rules. As she gets older it will be easier to take her along with me.

                                BuddyRoo, you did hit the nail on the head in terms of what a juggling act it is. Things pop up and plans change quick, so even if I say I am riding on X day at Y time, it doesn't always happen. One reason I stopped lessoning.... because it seemed half the time I was needing to reschedule due to a kid having an event at school, a work issue popping up, someone getting sick, blah blah blah!

                                Anyway it helps to know that other people out there understand the struggle and more importantly, are making it work. I know how hard it is to find a horse like mine (maybe not everyone's perfect horse, but she is perfect to me) so I am really reluctant to let her go. Hopefully I'll find a way to better balance my time!
                                We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.


                                • Original Poster

                                  LOL I love the "bad" ratings on my posts on this thread... I swear this new system is so bizarre (or, the people using it are bizarre...)
                                  We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.


                                  • #18
                                    I know there is a general societal push to make kids #1 at all times but really? No one is #1 at all times. Not unless you're bleeding or dying.

                                    We ALL get to be #1 sometimes.

                                    (do as I say, not as I do)

                                    My vote? You block off at least 3 hours 1 day per week that is YOURS and is NON NEGOTIABLE unless there is an EMERGENCY! (btw, brownie day is not an emergency. You have a husband, or they can plan better!. )

                                    People really do need to plan better and not assume that all parents are doing nothing but waiting on baited breath for the opportunity to jump through a hoop for their kids. It's ridiculous IMHO.

                                    You have no idea what they come up with later in life. Hosting entire DINNERS for athletes on a team with oh...30 min notice when I worked 60 min away and had to drive another 20 after that to the store! Or driving 6 kids to a tennis match at 10am on a Tuesday...wait. I work...

                                    Fun times.
                                    A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                                    Might be a reason, never an excuse...


                                    • #19
                                      I know how you feel. I have one wee (too wee to be out in the cold!), a husband who isn't home until after dark (she's not at an indoor), and a green as grass mare. DD goes to bed between 7-730 so I don't even get out to the barn until at least 8. I don't ride for weeks at a time and it's frustrating. I'm learning to just enjoy her, and spend what time I can with her, even if it's just grooming her after dark. I'm kind of enjoying the slower pace, and being able to relax with no pressure. She's always so very good when I get on her, that I'm less worried about leaving the safety blanket that is my trainer.

                                      I agree with trying to find a sitter, if you can afford it, or trade babysitting.

                                      I'm hoping that once we move and childcare will be more affordable (free on post!) plus Wil will be at an indoor, I'll be able to get into a good schedule with her and meet some of the goals that I've set.

                                      It's hard to make time for yourself when you're a Mom, but it's something that you need so badly!


                                      • #20
                                        I finally have my first tiny farm (and it's tiny) and I struggle finding time too. I have a 5yr old, a 3yr old, and 1.5yr old. Oh dear. The 5yr old is in school this year and my 3yr old is in 3k twice a week for a couple of hours...now I guess I'm waiting for my youngest to start school. You would think that the couple of hours that my 3yr old is gone I would have time to ride right? Well youngest has decided she doesn't take morning naps anymore and I have to watch her like a hawk. She's a climber (picture 17month old on top of table doing spins*sigh*) and is always doing something she shouldn't. she's the most active baby I have EVER seen (example..we go to the doctor and she kpet trying climb the doctor's desk and exam table! ). Doctor was pretty suprised how active she was. She just advised me to get as many calories that I can in her. Little DD is such a little trouble maker and she hasn't even hit 20lbs yet.
                                        Then it seems like I spend any extra free time cleaning, barn chores, or something with the family. The only riding time I get it seems is when I hop on my mare's back to lead her and the pony to the pasture in the morning.

                                        I think I'm going to have to start waking up at 5am to get a short ride in before they get up for school.