How Beth Rodden Balances Work, Climbing And Motherhood

This post originally appeared on Beths's blog.

Don’t worry. I’m not about to go ahead and turn this blog into another self-help column—mostly because I don’t think I know a whole lot! That said, I do actually receive a number of questions from very sincere readers, and thank you so much, readers! It means the world to hear from you all. And many of them are asking about similar topics and issues. I’ve decided to start answering questions that warrant more in-depth responses here, much like my good friend Steph Davis does on her blog. And I’m going to begin with this one from Kristen!

Hi Beth,

I’m a new mom to a two-month-old little girl. I’ve loved your posts on pregnancy and climbing, and your recovery blogs. Thank you so much for opening up and sharing your experiences. I’ve looked forward to your posts! I’m easing back into climbing now and I’m curious about how you are balancing work and climbing. I don’t know exactly how professional climbing works, but I’m also self-employed. I’m trying to learn how to balance taking care of Caroline and starting back to work. Most of my friends have 9-to-5 jobs. So I’m curious to learn how you’re balancing it all. How are you climbing and being a mom?

—Kristen

Hi Kristen! Thank you so much for your message and big congrats on Caroline! Also, a big congrats on starting to climb again. That’s so great!

I’m five months postpartum, and just starting to climb again, too. For me, it’s both humbling and, in some weird ways, enjoyable to take those baby steps back onto the rock. Every day I make leaps and bounds of progress! I’ve received questions similar to this one quite a few times, but I’ve been reluctant to answer them because the truth is: I don’t know! And, I feel a little weird writing a post about this as I know there are moms out there with many more things to juggle than me (multiple jobs, multiple kids, hard time finding childcare). But I guess people must be interested in how a professional climber will juggle it, so I'll do my best to let you know how I've been doing it, even though I know I'm just in the beginning stages of getting back to parts of my job.

When people ask about how professional climbing works, I’m not sure how to answer it because being a pro climber really involves performing a number of different roles—just like any freelance career. For me, that includes everything from being a spokesperson for companies and attending events, to working on product design and being an ambassador for the sport itself, to working with the media. And, if I can find time, actually going climbing! Finding out how to fit Theo in with all of this will be an adventure.

I think answering this question for any mom—regardless of climbing or self employment—will provide a lot of the same conundrums. How do we find enough hours in the day? I love my climbing career in all of its forms, and I love being with Theo and raising him. If I’m to be totally honest, I’m not really sure how I’m going to find all the hours I need to be the mom, or climber, I want to be. I will say that I’m using my parents and their generous support with Theo as much as I can, currently writing this blog while they watch him! I hope that I can lean on them and Randy's parents to let me ease back into my work.

As for childcare, we are also on the wait list for day care here in Yosemite, which I think we'll try when my body is up for more substantial climbing. I know many of my friends who don't have family close by use day care and nanny shares, which we might try once I need more time than my family can give.

But, aside from most moms' troubles with balancing childcare and their professions and time, comes the question of how to climb with this new little human. I've found a few things that have helped us in our very limited time so far. I’m positive this will be constantly changing, though, and these might be old news to all of you. First and foremost, we've stayed true to the old saying, "It takes a village." We've found the best thing we can do for our climbing and Theo is go out with people who are in the same boat. Luckily, our group of friends all have young children and all want to continue with this outdoor lifestyle, so we help each other out at the crag. Whether that's taking turns watching kids while another couple climbs, or corralling all the kids together, just having more hands on deck makes a huge difference. And, because we all have kids, we know how valuable it can be to have someone help.

Another thing that all new moms are good at is being efficient. One of the main reasons I love climbing is for the social aspect, but right now I've found that if I want to climb, I need to socialize another time and just use the time that I have to climb. I take the hour or two I give myself and be as efficient as possible. It's amazing how much I can cram in if I work at it! I also have found it okay to break up my workouts throughout the day. If I can do fifteen minutes here or there, even if it's push ups or using the Metolius Grip Saver Plus, it helps me to get my body reacclimatized to exercise.

When I'm by myself, I know that I have a limited amount of time before Theo has other plans for our day. Over the past few weeks, I've taken him into the garage while I've climbed on my home wall. I'll alternate between having him in his Merry Muscles or on the floor with a few toys to get some training in. My body hasn't allowed me to climb a ton at a time, so Theo has been able to ease into the climbing life. I've also tried to incorporate Theo into certain training, like doing push ups over him, trying to make it fun for him. Or when I'm resting, I let him touch the holds and experience what I'm doing.

I also know a lot of my friends use the childcare at the Touchstone climbing gyms (currently in Berkeley and Fresno gyms), which allows them to climb and be close by. I think Movement in Boulder also offers childcare. I bet as the trend of bigger and bigger gyms takes off, childcare will become more regular.

All this said, if you were to ask me how I feel I’m currently performing at my job, the answer is not as good as I want! That’s just the honest truth. I've been working in regard to other parts of my job (writing, product work, etc.) that aren't as physically demanding on my body. But, I’m used to being someone who sets goals in the vertical world, and works hard to achieve them. And right now, I feel as if I’m far from being able to accomplish my own climbing goals. Instead, I'm taking baby steps to get back there and focusing on Theo. As I said in one of my previous posts, though, it's been really important for me to go easy on myself. If I think about how much time I want to devote to climbing and how much time my body will allow, it's hard for me. But, if I think about where I was four months ago, versus where I am now, it puts a smile on my face.

Every person has a different situation. For me, I haven't found an easy formula for finding balance. If I do, I'll let you know. But maybe that's the point. My most memorable moments in life have been in things that I've had to work the hardest on, and if that holds true, then being a mom is at the top of the list already.

I suppose this was a much trickier question than "What do you take to the crag for your baby?" But I'll answer that one next!