Making Time for the Family as a Martial Artist

Terizius

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I posted this as one of my blog posts (http://maevolutions.blogspot.com) but I want to post it here as well to get your thoughts. The post was prompted by one simple statement my wife said during our last phone conversation today: "I do wish you were home more". Let me know how you balance your desire to train and your desire to be there for your family. Here's the post:


Does your wife (or husband), ever say that they'd like you to be home more often?
For many, martial arts is simply a hobby. But, for a select few, it is something much more. These unique people realize that to truly get the most they can out of the martial arts, a significant amount of time and energy has to be put into it. Unfortunately, unless you are single, or have found a way to stretch out time, all that time you spend in martial arts could mean time away from the family. Take my story as an example.


This is a schedule that represents my time out of the house, away from my family. All of this is on top of my full time job.


Monday - 5:15 - 6:45
Tuesday - 6:15 - 9:00
Wednesday - 4:45 - 8:30
Thursday - 6:15 - 9:00
Friday - Free day
Saturday - 2-4 hours at the studio
Sunday - Free day


(Extra stuff, ie: visiting other studios/instructors, tournaments, etc takes place a few times a month, usually on my "free" days)


By no means am I a full-time martial artist (yet). However, it is pretty obvious that, on top of my full-time job, I spend a significant amount of time away from home. Even with my current load, I want to spend even more time training. I have two projects now that I want start (experimenting with Bruce Lees workouts, and a 100,000 technique challenge) but I'm not sure exactly where to fit them without reaching the breaking point with my family.


Even if you have a family that is fully supportive of your training, it is still extremely important that you recognize their needs, which may not always be spoken.


Many have heard the old adage, "Quality over quantity". It may be that this is the key with both your family and your training. What are your thoughts?
 

Ken Morgan

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Are you teaching or are you just training? Is it your club? Are you earning money from the Martial arts? Do you have children? How old? Does your wife train in MA? Is this schedule for a short period of time or is it long term?

The times you are away from Monday – Thursday are the times people get home from work, relax, and make dinner, if you have young children, not a good situation to be in.

When I was competing in bodybuilding I would spend many hours at the gym and turned my family’s life upside down for three – four months, but then it went back to normal again.

Unless the MA is your business, your family should always come first.

Quality and Quantity are equally important. Sitting there watching a movie, reading or going for a walk is as important as doing anything “important”. Honestly? Why did you get married if you’re spending so much time away from home?
 

Blindside

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I always tell my guys "real life comes first," which puts me in the "not obsessive" category. I teach three nights per week, plus training on my own, which I think is alot. My weekends are free for family except for the occasional seminar. I trained much more frequently before kids and I would undoubtedly be better if I still was training that much. In fact, arguably it is time I will never be able to recover, and I don't care, it is time going toward something much more important; my family.
 

kbarrett

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I would say the best idea would be to pick 2 days a week within which you can train, it also may depend on how long your classes are, most are 1-1/2 to 2 hours long, make those day's your primary training day's and safe the rest for your family. It's never about the quantity of time training it's always been and will always be about the quality of time spent training, I tell my student 2 time a week is good our classes are 1-1/2 to 2 hours long, that way they have time for other thing in life and still get good quality training. Ken
 
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Terizius

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To answer your questions: I teach on Wednesdays, Assistant Instructor on Tues and Thurs. I earn a little bit, but not much, however I hope to make this a business in the future (so the experience helps). I have a 2 yr old son, and another on the way. Wife does not train in martial arts (despite my best attempts :p) This is my long term schedule.

My constant goal is to reach my peak. I was a hobbyist for many years, but, after 14 years of still going back, I have decided to embrace it. My long term goal would be to have a full-time martial arts/training studio. I hope to make that step in the next few years. Basically, I want to be a full-time martial artist, being able to support my family. Like any business, a lot of time and energy has to go into it in order to make it successful. And, for the business to be successful, I need to be successful and proficient. At least that's my justification.

On a related note, as my wife is well progressed in her pregnancy, and my two year old is at home with her all the time, these feelings of wanting me home are magnified beyond what I believe is normal. Were my son to be in daycare, or if she were feeling better, I don't think she would mind quite as much. Nonetheless, it is still important to think on it and make sure I'm meeting her needs as well.
 

Ken Morgan

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My children are now older but I certainly remember them being toddlers. At that age, and with your training schedule Monday – Thursday, it looks like you would be missing out on family dinner, bathing the child, reading bedtime stories and putting them to bed. I always trained after the kids went to bed, made for a long day, but I got to spend time with them. The other three days you still do MA activities as well when they come up.

Do you give your wife a break at all? Take the toddler out on your own? Encourage her to get out with her girlfriends?

Once the next baby comes along, you both will have more home responsibilities, note I said both, not your wife.

Your dream may be to have a MA business, which is great, I understand completely, but have you looked deeply into it? Is it seriously viable?

We can do whatever we want in life, we just have to ask ourselves if it is worth the sacrifices we have to make.
 
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Terizius

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I would say the best idea would be to pick 2 days a week within which you can train, it also may depend on how long your classes are, most are 1-1/2 to 2 hours long, make those day's your primary training day's and safe the rest for your family. It's never about the quantity of time training it's always been and will always be about the quality of time spent training, I tell my student 2 time a week is good our classes are 1-1/2 to 2 hours long, that way they have time for other thing in life and still get good quality training. Ken

kbarrett,

That amount of time is certainly sufficient for the martial arts hobbyist. However, I've done that for the last 14 years. I want to take my training, and my skills, to the next level. As such, I don't believe that amount of time is sufficient at all when you consider the need to practice techniques, sparring, grappling, forms, combinations, throws, etc. Not to mention the fitness side of training as well (often neglected by most martial arts practitioners). As such, I spend at least 3 hours a week on fitness and like I mentioned in my original post, want to add more.
 

kbarrett

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Being a part-time instructor and working on having your own school some day makes juggling your time a little bit harder, but it can be done, it'll be a matter of finding that balance and you will, good luck to you. Ken
 
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Terizius

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My children are now older but I certainly remember them being toddlers. At that age, and with your training schedule Monday – Thursday, it looks like you would be missing out on family dinner, bathing the child, reading bedtime stories and putting them to bed. I always trained after the kids went to bed, made for a long day, but I got to spend time with them. The other three days you still do MA activities as well when they come up.

Do you give your wife a break at all? Take the toddler out on your own? Encourage her to get out with her girlfriends?

Once the next baby comes along, you both will have more home responsibilities, note I said both, not your wife.

Your dream may be to have a MA business, which is great, I understand completely, but have you looked deeply into it? Is it seriously viable?

We can do whatever we want in life, we just have to ask ourselves if it is worth the sacrifices we have to make.

Since both my wife and I have late nights, our son is almost always still up when I get home, which is great. And, as part of my goals for the new year, I have began reading to him at least 3 times a week.

My wife does get a break occassional, for example, she teaches an art class every saturday (she's there now). And we'll be going out for the day tomorrow (try to do that a few times a month at least).

I also take my son with me to the studio on the weekends at times.

As to looking into martial arts as a business, it is viable, but takes a lot of work (like any business).
 

Blindside

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On a related note, as my wife is well progressed in her pregnancy, and my two year old is at home with her all the time, these feelings of wanting me home are magnified beyond what I believe is normal. Were my son to be in daycare, or if she were feeling better, I don't think she would mind quite as much. Nonetheless, it is still important to think on it and make sure I'm meeting her needs as well.

A two year old and one on the way and you training until post-toddler bedtimes 3 nights per week? I think I can see why she is a bit peaved. Does she get 11-14 hours per week to do her own thing, without a toddler tagging along? I understand your desire to meet your potential/peak/whatever, but I would caution you, your family should come first. Without knowing anything about the situation beyond what you just described, your current schedule seems a little biased toward the martial arts vs. family.
 
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Terizius

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No, last night was the first night I didn't get home until after he was asleep. We typically have late dinners (together) and then he goes to bed at around 9:30 on most nights. No, she doesn't get that long per week alone, usually only about 5 or so hours. I really look forward to taking my son with me to the studio with me, but at this age, he requires more attention than I can give while teaching or doing fitness stuff. That would definitely take a load off.
 

Blindside

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No, last night was the first night I didn't get home until after he was asleep. We typically have late dinners (together) and then he goes to bed at around 9:30 on most nights. No, she doesn't get that long per week alone, usually only about 5 or so hours. I really look forward to taking my son with me to the studio with me, but at this age, he requires more attention than I can give while teaching or doing fitness stuff. That would definitely take a load off.

I take my 5 year old with me, and that is just barely old enough to keep him occupied while I am running class.
 
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Terizius

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Does he seem to be developing a healthy interest in martial arts? It would be a dream to have my son train with me as he gets older (assuming we can control his blood disorder)
 

Blindside

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Does he seem to be developing a healthy interest in martial arts? It would be a dream to have my son train with me as he gets older (assuming we can control his blood disorder)

If by healthy you mean we get into a stickfight/lightsaber duel/knights with shields and swords match after every class, then yes, plenty healthy. :D I am not pushing him into martial arts, if he asks to join a class I will let him, but I will probably send him to another instructor rather than having "dad" teach him.
 

decepticon

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I think you have to ask yourself to what end would you be doing these things. Why are you devoting this amount of time to training right now? Can any of it be delayed for a couple of years? Is your goal of a MA career essential to start bringing income in for your family now or do you already have a good job that covers it?

Someone once told me that I could have nearly everything I wanted, but not all at the same time. As an adult and a parent, I have had to accept that there are seasons to life. Times when I was free to pursue things I wanted and times when the priority had to be meeting my obligations to others. In my opinion, bringing a child into the world automatically confers an obligation and committment to giving your best to them.

I ready about a scientific study (back in the late 1990's or early 2000's) that IIRC, said that fathers studied sheepishly confessed that they only spent about 15 minutes per day of "quality" (non-feeding/bathing/diapering) time with their toddler-aged children. However, when actually timed, the researchers discovered that the actual time amount was 37 SECONDS. If you have any desire to pass your values or beliefs to your child, let alone teach them how to interact properly with society, the fact is that it just can't be done in 37 seconds per day. This may not be an issue for you, but count how much time you spend with your son - time actually with him, not time cooking for him, feeding him, bathing him, but actually time interacting exclusively with him. Is it enough?

If not, then the MA training should be put on the back burner for now. A dream deferred is not a dream lost. But with children there are certain windows of opportunity and if you allow the current window to close, you will not have another chance to make up the time. So very many parts of a person's personality are formed during the early years. Google that topic and see if you feel you are doing what is needed.

Another saying, perhaps trite but also true, is that we should love our children like they will not be here with us next year, and train them like we will not be here with them. If you are satisfied that you are doing what you should with your son, your wife, and will be able to continue when the new one arrives, then by all means, train hard. However, if you find that you are not meeting your obligations to them, them in my opinion, you should delay the MA career.
 

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Help! How do I go back and edit my post? There are a couple of typos in there and that drives me crazy! Usually I can see an edit tab somewhere, but couldn't find one tonight.
 

stickarts

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Balance is always a focus for me since I have a demanding full time job with a long commute, a martial arts school with 120+ students, a very active schedule of teaching seminars and special events, and a family! I make it a priority to never miss my family special events and to spend quality time together. We take family vacations and have family nights during the week. Martial arts has been a big part of my life but it is not more important than being a good spouse and parent and friend. The hardest part is finding " me " time but some of that gets squeezed in too. :0) It is important to be mindful about what is truely important.
 

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My Ex-wife was terribly bothered by the amount of time I spent on MA training. I gave it up to make her happy. Didn't work. Many years later, and remarried, I have a better solution. My wife, son and older daughter train at the dojang with me.

As an added benefit, I make sure they know that it doesn't count as abuse if it's part of their training... :D
 

Black Belt Jedi

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Well, at this time, I am single, but I can imagine that it can be tough to commit to a serious relationship and still be married to the art/sport. Most likely it can be difficult to balance between training in the Martial Arts and having a relationship. The importance is that your significant other or spouse must be understanding and supportive, if not relationships will crumble. IMO, it is best to date someone within the Martial Arts industry because you would have more in common with that special someone. I heard stories from some of my peers and they tell me that their girlfriend or wife keep saying to them "spend more time with me. I have missed you." blah blah blah. Even quite a few of my peers decided to stop training because of it. It comes down to a choice to choose between what you love the most Martial Arts or girlfriend. So I prefer to find someone who does what I am doing, it makes things a little easier.
 

jks9199

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Help! How do I go back and edit my post? There are a couple of typos in there and that drives me crazy! Usually I can see an edit tab somewhere, but couldn't find one tonight.

There's a timer on the edit function; after a certain period, you can't change your posts.

On topic...

It's important and necessary to balance training with family and professional life. I would suggest that the Original Poster may need to reassess his priorities. It would seem to me that if he's getting nearly twice the personal time that his wife is, maybe he can give up a day or two, and allow her some more time. It can be hard to realize that what we want may not be what we can do -- but it's a fact of life. My work days average about 14 or 15 hours, including commute. That pretty much means, on work days, that's all I do. Maybe cook dinner... So, on my days off, I make it a point to try to give my wife a break from our almost-3 year old. I try to give her time to do things that she wants to... Yeah, that means some of my own training has suffered. I take my son with to the gym most days (they have a child care service), for example. I can't take him with me to class (yet). And balance seminars and other events... I don't always get to do what I'd like.
 
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