Motherhood is a special time filled with joy, wondering, and apprehension. New mothers are often very concerned with how their lives are going to change after having children and whether they will be the same person, who does the same things, before and after becoming a mom. This goes for golf also; many future golfermoms want to know if they will be able to play while they are pregnant and then continue playing after the baby has arrived. As a well-experienced, in-the-trenches golfermom I have come up with a 10 things that are MOST IMPORTANT if you are really serious about keeping your game alive once children arrive in your life. Some of these I learned along the way and some of these I wished I had done. The goal is not perfection in your golf life after baby arrives. (Were you perfect before?) Instead, the point is that you don’t give up, be patient, and allow for some flexibility in your new life as a mom. Here are the 10 MOST IMPORTANT things I have found in setting up your new lifestyle to support your golf plans.
#1 – DON’T WAIT. Forget about waiting until the planets line up before you actually get back out there playing golf. (I’ll just wait until the baby sleeps through the night, or until he or she is potty trained before reviving my game.) Trust me, that is a recipe for making yourself wait until they are nearly grown. Here’s the thing with motherhood that you should know now; it’s never ending and there are always new challenges to deal with. Whether it’s giving them solid food, driving them to soccer practice, or helping your daughter shop for the junior prom; there will never be a point when it completely lets up. For the rest of your life YOU WILL HAVE TO CARVE OUT the time for yourself and your golf. Do it NOW, do it EARLY, and make it STICK.
#2 – HAVE MODEST SHORT TERM GOALS. You might hope to win the U.S. Women’s Open in 5 years but that particular goal is not helping you get through the day with a colicky baby while trying to squeeze an hour in to go to the range. Since your life will forevermore be broken up into 3 month increments, even after they begin going to school, set goals based on these timelines. Your goal could just be to hit 10 putts a day in the living room while the baby is sleeping during those first 3 intense months. The point is to roll with the punches and just keep things going. Again, don’t try to be perfect, just try to be consistent. Have your short-term goals lead up to your ultimate long term goal and then stay on track with a bunch of little steps.
#3 – SMART GOALS ONLY. The acronym S.M.A.R.T. stands for 5 characteristics of goal-setting that make them more likely to be achieved. Set goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based. Make goals with these characteristics. For example: “I will hit 4 out of 18 greens on average by the end of this coming season” rather than “I will play better golf this year.”
#4 – TAKE LESSONS. You may or may not rely on regular sessions with a pro. In either case, signing up for lessons will a) get you out there to make it happen, b) stop your game from falling off too much, and c) keep you on track and hungry for golf.
#5 – JOIN A LEAGUE. Just nine holes a week might be enough to keep you in the swing of things. That’s better than nothing. Signing up for it makes it more likely to happen. Plus you’ll get the mental and social benefits of getting out of the house at least once per week.
#6 – MAKE PROCESS-RELATED GOALS. In motherhood and in life you don’t have control over everything. Things come up and you can’t always get things the way you want. Therefore your best bet is to focus on what you will DO rather than what you will GET. You may not be able to get hugely better at golf when you first become a mom but with some planning you may be able to maintain your current level. Make your goal to DO something that will help you get where you’re going rather than GETTING to some point. Rather than “I will break 70 before the baby turns 2” or “I will be club champion this year” make goals such as “I will go to the driving range for an hour every weekend” or “I will practice for 20 minutes while the baby is sleeping everyday” or “I will play 9 holes twice per a week during school hours.” You ultimately have no control over how this life change will affect your golf game but you can control what you do once it has happened.
#7 – MAKE A DATE. Do you have a gym buddy? Same concept; find someone who likes golf as much as you do and arrange a weekly time to play some number of holes or just to practice. Again, with someone else waiting on you it is more likely to actually happen.
#8 – FITNESS. Have a post-baby fitness regimen. You might be blessed with a great body naturally but your muscles and ligaments change with pregnancy. Furthermore, the core muscles are arguably the most important for golf, and guess what changes the most with pregnancy? To lose fat: walk nine holes as often as you can. To regain muscle tone: do a core regimen focused on generic exercises AND add exercises to improve your golf game. The goal is not to have a perfect body but just to keep you focused on supporting your golf game.
#9 – FOCUS ON QUALITY. You don’t have all day to play and practice like you may have in college or when you began other sports or hobbies in your life. However, you CAN make the most of the time you do have. 2014 Curtis Cup Captain Ellen Port won 4 of her 6 USGA titles after becoming a mom. During our interview she shared with me that it is more about quality because you don’t have all the time in the world to practice. The key for me has been to remember that a little bit goes a long way.
#10 – MANAGE YOUR EXPECTATIONS. Becoming a mom is a gigantic step and a huge transition in anyone’s life. Sure things will always be different but in a lot of ways they will be better. Don’t expect things to be perfect or to reach everything goal you aspire to all at once. Better to make a million short-term goals and reach all of them than to make one big goal and be disappointed forever if you don’t reach it. Embrace your new life responsibilities and role and they are sure to embrace you back.