Cragmama "Not all who wander are lost…" JRR Tolkien

Climb Time for the Whole Family (What Works for Us!)

It’s my theory that eavesdropping on a family’s Sunday night dinner conversation is one of the quickest ways to figure out what’s most important to that family.  The weekend is over and everyone is setting their sights onto a new week, planning out the logistics of who’s doing what, when and how.  Which activities/events are the first up for discussion?  You know, those things that you want to MAKE time for, despite how busy you are?  Each family’s discussion will be different of course, but the logistical conversations are often the same – how to make sure ______ gets to do ______ on ______ days.  

Bouldering intervals in the early weeks

Bouldering intervals in the early weeks

For our family, finding time to exercise during the week is a priority.  For cardio, we’d both much prefer to run or bike outside, but having an elliptical in the house has been a great solution for when time is at a premium.  But training for climbing has been a different story, and that’s especially poignant as we are at a season in our life where we can’t climb outside as often as we’d like.  With that in mind, we’ve found ourselves looking to the climbing gym to keep our fitness level up (and our psych high, since all of us find rock climbing a lot more enjoyable than lifting weights!)  

The addition of Baby Z has rocked our world in so many (good!) ways, and figuring out a schedule that allows adequate training time for everyone has been one of the bigger logistical challenges we’ve had to juggle.  One kid is easy (especially one that thinks he’s a ninja!)  The whole family can climb together – parent 1 climbs alone (or with another partner), parent 2 belays kiddo, then after a while…switch!  But two kids have thrown all of those neat, organized plans out the window!  It’s taken some trial and error, but over the past 6 months we’ve managed to settle into a schedule that seems to suit everyone, even Baby Z.  

The secret has been finding ways to maximize everyone’s available “windows” of time – that, and a lot of tag-teaming!  

Here are scenarios that we have tried, but were unable to implement consistently.  But just because they weren’t the best choice for OUR family doesn’t mean they won’t work for YOUR family, so I’m listing them anyway.

Making sure the crag-kiddos log some mileage as well

Making sure the crag-kiddos log some mileage as well

  • MOM’s MORNING OUT w/INFANT: Last spring I took Baby Z to the gym with me while Big C was at preschool. If she fell asleep in the car and stayed asleep transferring her to inside the gym (and that was always a very big IF), then I could squeeze in 45 minutes to an hour of bouldering intervals – sometimes the Crag-Daddy was even able to take an early lunch break and meet me out there!  (Other days he would go after work.) This was a reasonable option during the early newborn months, but it was always somewhat of a stressful gamble…if the nap failed, then I would spend almost my entire climb time nursing or plugging a paci (and would often STILL leave with a cranky, overtired baby.)  Now that Baby Z is older, more aware, and (sometimes) taking longer naps, this scenario doesn’t work for us.  Another downside to it is that Big C never got to climb at all!
  • LINEBERRY, PARTY OF 4: One Saturday we tried taking the whole family to the gym…epic fail.  It was a great way to get Big C on the wall, but the grown-ups didn’t get much climbing in.  (But if you’ve just got one kid, this option is totally doable, especially if said kid is too young to want to climb that much anyway!)

Here’s the magic formula that is currently working for us: 

  • MID-WEEK SHIFTS: This has surprisingly worked out very well for us.  Basically we climb in two separate shifts, with a break in between for dinner as a family.  Steve hits the gym on his way home from work, and I do the “night shift” once the kiddos are asleep.  For me it provides not only an uninterrupted chance to climb, but also a chance to socialize with people that don’t necessarily see me as a mom.  When the kids are with me, they are always a talking point in conversation, so it’s refreshing to be able to go 2 hours without my “mommy hat” on.  The downside for me is that working out late at night means I’m pretty revved up when I get home…so I often end up staying up later than I’d like.  The downside for Steve is that his free window is tight – if he gets tied up at work or hits more traffic than usual, he ends up with a much shorter workout, since dinner can only be delayed so long before it starts messing with bedtimes.  
  • WEEKEND TAG TEAM:  We always try to squeeze in a gym session on weekends that we aren’t already climbing outdoors.  For that we just employ a tag team strategy.  If the weekend is pretty open, one of us goes on Saturday, and the other on Sunday.  Otherwise we both try and go on Saturday, one of us in the morning, and the other in the afternoon (thankfully Baby Z is pretty willing to take a bottle of expressed milk…her brother never was!)  
  • KIDCRUSHER AFTERNOONS:  Since none of the previous options include Big C, we try to set aside some climb time that is just for him.  Although sometimes one of us will take him, it usually means the whole family goes together after Baby Z wakes up in the afternoon. Since none of the grown-ups are even trying to climb, all of our focus is on him, and he can do whatever combination of climb/swing/hang he wants for as long as we’re there. 


The only pic I could find of the Crag-Daddy was on the down-climb of our topout boulder...but he has a cute spotter!

The only pic I could find of the Crag-Daddy was on the down-climb of our topout boulder…but he has a cute spotter!

So there ya have it. That’s how we’ve rolled, both past and present, and managed to get everyone the climbing fix they need.  And while it SEEMS like our current strategy will be a good holding pattern for the next long while, who knows, we could be doing something totally different next month!  How has YOUR family managed to find time to do the things you love to do, be it climbing or something else?

Related posts: 
How Parents (and Other Busy People) Can Find Time to Train in the Climbing Gym
Creating a Cragbaby: In the Gym





5 Responses to “Climb Time for the Whole Family (What Works for Us!)”

  1. Stephanie

    I know it’s not always an option but our gym offers daycare (starting at 12months). I managed to find a climbing partner whose schedule matched up with the day care schedule so I got an hour or two with her one day and another hour or two with my husband on the weekend. We started off with two so it has been challenging at times to juggle things. We are skiers too so figuring that out was also interesting 🙂


  2. Patricia

    We have an eleven month old baby. When she was in the newborn phase, we definitely could do the nap in the car seat thing. When she woke up, I had plenty of friends who were super excited to hold the baby. Now that she’s older and mobile, I have to recruit a friend or my husband to chase her around. Then we just tag team climbing. Most of the time, I climb after work when she eats her dinner, so now I have her in a high chair eating finger food while I climb. It works for about 30 minutes and then we’re back to the tag team and chasing her around while she crawls (and now practices walking) on the crash pads.

    As for other exercise, somehow my husband and I managed to do a 205 mile Ragnar relay race this past weekend with the baby in tow. She rode in the support van. Our whole team was super supportive. For training, I run from my house to her daycare to pick her up with our jogging stroller.

    I also did a triathlon this year and did the biking with her in a trailer and running in a stroller. We have a Chariot so I could do bike/run training where I just converted the bike trailer to stroller mode in the transition. For the swim training, I just took her to daycare early and swam at the gym before work. It was definitely challenging but so worth it since I had set the goal of doing a triathlon before the baby was one (instead of setting a goal for losing baby weight–I set a fitness goal for myself.)


  3. Erica

    Stephanie – I SO wish our gym offered daycare! Sadly, I’m not sure there’s enough interest for it, although perhaps if it was offered all the moms would come out of the woodwork!!!

    Patricia – So you bring the high chair in there with you? That’s awesome. 🙂 Tag teaming it definitely seems to be the way to go, especially the more kiddos you’ve got!


  4. Angela

    We’ve had great success taking turns to climb too (usually on alternate days). It feels great to take time for ourselves doing something we love and managing it with 3 young ones. I too get revved up with the night shift climbing and I’m wondering if you can share any ideas on winding down?


    • Erica

      I ways find I’m wired after nightshift climbing…glass of wine maybe? 😕

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“Not all who wander are lost.” —JRR TOLKIEN