It was six weeks postpartum that I received the all clear from the doctor to slowly resume exercise. My husband Paul set up the trainer the following morning next to the twin's cot. After their morning feed I hopped on the trainer and returned to Zwift World, only this time with the twins outside of my belly and sound asleep.
Of course after 6 weeks off the bike and being pregnant, things were definitely going to be slower and different. After a few Zwift rides, I was ready for the outdoors. But who was going to look after the kids if Paul and I wanted to ride together?
Fortunately we have wonderful family and friends support to make riding again possible.
My dad met us one morning at Centennial Park with the twins so I could ride laps with Paul and a few friends. My dad was able to spend time with his grandchildren, we were able to ride and the twins were able to nap whilst "Opa" walked them. It was a win win! After a few more Sundays of meeting my dad at centennial for pram and CP laps, I was ready to join the bunch.
I recall nervously asking dad how he felt with waking up at 5am so he could drive over to our place and look after his grandchildren so we could ride. I was elated with his response. He was more than happy to and also willing to change nappies, give bottles all in return for cuddles and kisses with his grandchildren. This has since continued to be the routine even now that the twins are 3 years old.
My mother-in-law also drives all the way from Maitland on a Monday night to look after the twins on Tuesdays. This also conveniently ties in with allowing us to ride Tuesday mornings. She sees this as a wonderful opportunity to bond and spend time with her grandchildren. And my dad comes over on the weekend and on Sundays, he takes the kids to his place so we can go for a longer ride.
Riding is our happy place. It gives us a few hours reprieve from mummy and daddy life.
It was tough at the start and still is. I recall feeding them before a ride, changing them both and trying to get them back to sleep. Dad would sit glued to the baby monitor. They did not stir until we got home and were due for their next feed. We even cut some rides short so I could return home in time to feed. I recall nights where we hardly slept yet we were still determined to ride just for that peace of mind. We had a great routine which was working until they became more mobile, started talking and developed emotions. It became tough to get out the door without tantrums or not wanting mummy or daddy to leave. My family are heroes for putting up with the tantrums.
Cycling events have since became a family affair. We no longer get a motel room with our group, but instead hire an AirBnB house and invite family. We get to ride, and they get a weekend away with their grandchildren.
Our kids know cycling is part of our life (and theirs). Just before their 2nd birthday we got them Cruzee balance bikes. They love them. Vinnie is a different child with his bike. From being cautious of most things, he is a dare devil on the bike. They both enjoy making "movies" (stunts) with their bikes. Also from seeing us ride, they know that helmets are required to ride. They love putting the gloves on their hands, sunnies on their face and pretend to drink out of our water bottles.
On their third birthday last year, they requested a bike with pedals. Ariya was off riding lap after lap at the kids bike track. Vinnie on the other hand, got frustrated with the back break pedal and had a meltdown. He will get the hang of it soon.
Cycling does not need to stop once you have kids. We have been most fortunate to have such supportive friends, family and a great bunch to ride with. Our local group would even change the course to include Centennial Park if we wanted to meet dad with the kids before a ride.
Despite being reliant on a grandparent, we can still make alternate arrangements by getting a baby sitter or taking turns with riding outdoors. To be honest, we are probably riding a lot more now than before we had kids!
It can work, if you want it to work.
Julia van der Veer
This article by Julia was first printed in Bicycling Australia (March-April 2020) https://www.scribd.com/article/449188112/Cycling-After-Childbirth