How to survive lockdown as a tri couple

Having lived and worked together for the past 15 years, Helen, an Olympian and world champion triathlete, and Marc, coach and property entrepreneur, are also juggling a family with two young children. But how do they do it, and keep a smile on their face? Here’s their advice…

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Separate work and ‘normal life’

Helen: “While triathlon is our main job and makes up a big part of our lives, we try to ‘leave it at the door’ and not bring it into the house, even though it all happens under the one roof. Marc stops being the coach, training partner (whatever other role he plays in supporting me in my training) and I try to stop being the athlete and we become ‘normal people’ – whatever normal is anyway!

“You have to have a switch of mindset and carry on with daily life, especially now during the Covid-19 situation. This is more easily said than done but now we have kids it’s less of a choice and more of a necessity.”

Have a combined goal and focus

Helen: “Setting and workings towards a mutual goal has meant Marc and I are always striving towards the same things and on the same page, even if we’re working on things separately.

“Whether this be setting goals for my training, or the managing of the properties that Marc does or Marc’s other coaching, we do it together. Doing this together means we jointly plan time to accomplish each goal, including managing the family and household around them.

“This brings both positives and negatives ­ when it’s good we’re both happy but, when things start going badly, it can get to both of us.

“When things aren’t going so well, we find that we need to focus on distractions or a secondary goal together, that brings us both back up.”

Find common ground in what you love

Marc: “We like to do the same things. We would swim, bike and run regardless, and we enjoy doing this together and it’s more fun when we’re both fit. That common drive and interest brings us together. In the past we thought of training as a job, but now we consider it a privilege.

“That said, with kids, sharing this common ground is more about enabling each other to keep up with what they love. We make plans and create schedules to help each other manage all the elements and ensure the kids are engaged by the other. There is a lot of tag-team wrestling so to speak on the family, and we ‘tag’ each other in multiple times a day to enable sport, training and work.

“Take some time to plan a schedule that you both stick to. It needs to create the time each need, but also balance time together and, if you have kids, allow for spending quality time with them.”

Be aware of who and what you are to each other

Helen: “After 2012 we were challenged on how we worked together so we could become more effective. Marc and I had never planned to be ‘coach and athlete’ in addition to husband and wife, and now mum and dad.

“The elements of support that come with being athlete/coach were spilling over and impacting on being husband and wife, which made sense. Being aware of this and how it impacts on our environment has helped us mange our lives more harmoniously.

“It was something we’d never really thought of, but it’s helped us find the best way of managing work and life that creates the right environment for both.”

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Make sure to have time apart

Mark: “Right now, no doubt everyone is getting a little bit more irritable with the person next to them, and this is probably doubled or tripled if there are kids.

“Make time for yourself and, when you can, get up an hour or so earlier and get your exercise done (or whatever is your own personal passion and joy) and similarly later when the kids or your adult housemate have gone to bed.

“Also, when planning your schedule, make time for each other, to be able to spend time catching up with the friends and family you’d each normally individually or combined catch up with that help enrich your life, or even let you vent about the others in the house!

“Time for yourself and time with others is key to a healthy balance when living under the same roof.”

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For Marc and Helen, the current situation of spending 24/7 together is something that is now normal, but it’s also something they had to work on over the years to make work smoothly. For everyone else, it’s a crash course, but hopefully their advice can be a helpful starting point for others who now find themselves in the same situation. Rather than see this as a challenge, Helen and Mark hope that using these simple points can help bring families closer together.

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