108 Kegman Rd. W suite 102, Chesapeake, Virginia 23322

A Mom’s Take on Managing Training With, Well, Everything.

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I was standing in my kitchen on a Sunday morning, about to pour a cup of coffee, when I looked over at my six and eight year old daughters. The eldest was slumped over the kitchen table, wobbly head barely resting on an unbalanced upright arm, and her face held the type of dejection that you’d expect to see on an adult who forgot, for the second week in a row, that yesterday was trash day. (Been there.)  “What’s wrong kiddo?” I asked. “Mom,” she said, “I don’t wanna go back to school tomorrow. I’m tired, and sometimes school is just TOO MUCH.”

I’ve become used to these types of adultish quips from her, and so I stifled my giggle and decided to use this as a teaching moment. Most of us, as adults, know exactly what it feels like to be stretched a little thin; we know what it feels like to simply run out of mental bandwidth. I’m back in college frontloading prerequisites and electives for nursing; I’ve got two school aged kids, volunteer at the elementary, I’m on the mats helping our Professor with the youth classes 6 days a week at the academy, and try and train myself 3 days a week. We’re a military family. This means my spouse is gone more often than not, and our closest family is 250 miles away, so it’s up to me to find ways to budget my time and emotional energy for all of these things which are important to me. Doing this is a bit of an art, but this analogy I presented to my 8 year old is one that helps me gift myself grace when I need it.

I went into my pantry and got out four cups. I put a label on each of the cups: family time, education, Jiu-Jitsu, and ‘other hobbies.’ I then took out a small pitcher and filled it to the top. The pitcher, we labeled “emotional energy and focus.”  “The pitcher is not refillable,” I told her. That’s the most important rule. We only have what we have to start with, and we have to decide how we want to “budget” that energy to fill each of those four cups. I asked her how much she wanted to pour into Jiu Jitsu; she gave me a grin and filled it to the top. I said, “Okay, great. Now what about school?” Again, she filled it to the top, though this time, with less enthusiasm. At this point, she noticed she was pretty low on water in the pitcher; there wasn’t much left for family time or other hobbies. She poured what was left into family time. 

“Are you happy with this arrangement?” I asked. She nodded.

“What about when Dad gets home from a long trip? How would you adjust the water?”

She went to pour some of the water out of “education” and into “family time.” I playfully swatted her hand, and sticking her lip out at me, she reached for the Jiu-Jitsu cup instead. 

“The water can be moved from cup to cup. It will change based on what’s important to you at the time. When it’s competition season, it’s okay to pour more into the Jiu-Jitsu cup. When it’s summer time, you don’t have to pour everything into the education cup. What happens when you feel burnt out and like things are “TOO MUCH?”

“I don’t know,” she said.

I took some of the water out of all three filled cups and poured it back into the pitcher. “It means it’s time to take a little energy back for yourself and reset.”

Recently I’ve been very frustrated that I haven’t been able to train as much as I’d like. It’s been one thing after another that has required my pitcher to pour into the kids cup, which I keep mostly filled anyway; but this cup currently has a leak. Rather than beating myself up, I try to remember this: There is a season for everything. For some of us, we are at our best when we are training frequently; our Jiu-Jitsu cup HAS to be filled, and that’s okay. For others, we have injuries that require long breaks while we pour into the healing cup. We have busy little kids, or jobs that require us to travel or work long hours; that’s okay, too. We look at our cups and we divvy up what we can based on the season of life we are in. Our circumstances might change periodically - and sometimes there is our opportunity to fill that Jiu-Jitsu cup while the reserves are available!

Indeed, There’s a season for everything - and in Jiu Jitsu, the higher belts aren’t just the ones who are great: they’re the ones who are LEFT.

I don’t plan on going anywhere. You?


- Michaela


Michaela is currently a blue belt in BJJ

Assistant Youth BJJ coach at Gustavo Machado Chesapeake

A mom of two young Jiu Jitsu girls

and a Military wife

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