Cycling is a fantastic physical activity that promotes a fun, healthy lifestyle.
But it can also become a hobby that can consume your life. From daily rides to those longer adventures on weekends, if you’re not careful, your family and friends may only see you in your cycling kits before and after rides.
When that happens, your family life can become problematic.
So, what can you do to find that perfect balance of enjoying your cycling hobby and spending that important time with your family?
While it mostly comes down to simple communication, there are some other tips and tricks you can use to make sure you’re keeping your family as your top priority, while also tackling your favorite cycling routes and staying fit.
Set Realistic Expectations
It’s easy to head into the weekend thinking you’re going to clean the garage, mow the grass, say hi to some friends at the local pub, and squeeze in a long ride that eclipses 50 kilometers.
But that doesn’t leave much quality time to spend with your family.
Since most of us ride on weekends, it’s critically important to set expectations at the beginning of the week of what you want to accomplish cycling-wise over the coming weekend, and also listening to what your family wants to accomplish.
Think back to past weekends. Were you out for four or five hours on Saturday and Sunday tackling some hill climbs?
It’s probably not realistic to put in that kind of time each weekend. Every so often is fine, but your family needs to know when you’ll be finished with your workout for the day so that everyone can plan quality family time together.
Instead of figuring out how to squeeze in family time around cycling, ask yourself,
How can I squeeze in a ride around my important family time?
Creating a cycling workout plan that includes things like location, distance and the type of workout is a great way to set fitness goals.
But it’s also an effective tool for finding that balance between family and cycling, as long as that plan is communicated with your family.
The easiest way to plan ahead is writing out your cycling plan at the beginning of each week and then asking for input from your significant other to see if that plan jives with the family’s activities for the week.
If your family sees that you have four hours of riding planned all seven days, they’re probably going to question if you’re spending too much time on the bike.
Conversely, your family may have their own individual activities planned on a certain day, opening up an opportunity for you to add on a worry-free longer ride.
Communication is the most important tool in any relationship. So, communicating effectively with your spouse and family about your cycling plans is really the only way to find that perfect balance where everyone is happy.
So, before you commit to a big cycling trip that’s out of town, confirm with your family that they’re OK with it. This is a win-win for you and your family. Your family knows when to expect to have you home, and you can partake in your ride without any guilty feelings about leaving the family back at home.
Remember to pause when communicating your plan to gather input from your family.
You don’t want to sound like you’re dictating your family’s weekend plans around your cycling schedule. Ask them what they want to do and then see if your cycling plans can fit into their schedules.
Communicating effectively also means keeping the family informed when something comes up that delays your plan. Maybe you got a flat or bad weather rolled in, forcing you to pause the ride. A quick call or text message explaining the situation keeps everyone informed and happy. Most of the time they’ll understand. Other times, though, you’ll have to cancel your cycling plans and head back home.
Stick to the Plan
It’s easy to chat with your mates postride, but unless that time was included in the cycling plan you communicated with your family, then you shouldn’t be wasting time after your rides.
A plan is only effective if you stick to it. So, stick to it!
If you ride with a club or some friends, it’s a good idea to let them know you need to be done at a certain time so you can get back to your family. Chances are good they have families to get back to as well, so if everyone is on the same page, everyone can have an enjoyable ride and then be on their way.
Remember, your plans don’t always need to end with the ride. If you want some time to catch up with your mates after a ride, let your family know that in your cycling plan. If you need an extra hour, it’s probably not a big deal, but if you need several hours week after week, it’ll probably start to become an issue.
Get the Family Involved
You love your family. You love cycling.
So, put two and two together!
Going on a bike ride with your family is a fun, memorable activity that can turn into a weekly tradition.
Now, it’s safe to assume your younger children can’t keep up with you at full speed, so don’t expect to get much of a workout in.
This ride is all about spending quality time with your family. Chalk it up as an easy day.
If you want to take these family rides to the next level, pick a destination to ride to, like the ice cream parlor or a fun city park with a playground if you have younger children.
And remember, cycling with your children can help instill a passion for the sport early on in life. As they get older, they just might be able to keep up with you on those longer rides.
Commute to Work
If you’re determined to get in a certain amount of miles each week, you may need to get creative in order to accomplish that goal and still have enough hours left in the week for quality family time.
One of the easiest ways to do this is by commuting to work. Depending on where you live, cycling to work cuts down on time sitting in traffic, and, of course, is good for the environment.
Commuting to work on a bike is also a fantastic way to see your community.
Many office buildings today have workout rooms and showers that employees can take advantage of. So, if you sweat a lot, you can wash up before starting the work day.
Commuting to work via bike likely means leaving earlier, but when you get home, your cycling will be done for the day and you can focus all of your attention on your family.
Give Your Spouse Their Me Time
Healthy relationships are about giving and taking. Cycling is your preferred hobby, but your spouse may have something else he or she enjoys. It’s important to also encourage your spouse to take advantage of their hobbies.
So, as you are mapping out your cycling plans, make sure to also include off days where your time is 100% committed to watching the kids while your spouse goes to do his or her own thing.
Being proactive about giving your spouse their me time can go a long way.
They’ll not only be happier and relaxed (just like you are when you get in a solid cycling workout), but they’ll also be more open to you taking time for cycling.
Remember not to make a big deal about giving that time to your spouse. Giving them time for their own hobby should never feel like you’re making the bigger sacrifice. If it does, then their time won’t be as enjoyable and stress-free. Simply tell them to have a nice time.
And remember, just because you’re with the kids, it doesn’t mean you can’t get on your bicycle.
Refer to the step above – Go on a family ride!
Ride Early in the Morning
There’s a lot you can accomplish before the sun rises, including getting your bike ride in.
By the time you return home, there’s a good chance your family will just be waking up and getting ready for the day. After a quick shower, your work is done for the day and you can focus on your family.
Getting in an early-morning cycling habit is a great way to get more out of your day. It’s been proven that those who exercise early in the morning bring more focus and optimism to the other tasks in their lives.