This week we chatted with 3x Olympian and 7x medalist DANA VOLLMER.
TINY TAGS: Would you share your greatest joy since becoming a mom?
DANA: Wow, to just pick one is a challenge! Having a child is life changing. I love the joy that comes with exposing Arlen to the world and watching him soak in everything and develop is own little personality.
TINY TAGS: What has been the most challenging part of motherhood?
DANA: For me, the most challenging part of motherhood comes on the days when you feel exhausted, stressed, and overwhelmed. Feeling like you simply can’t add any more to your plate. It seems to be those days when I have to learn how to handle a super cranky toddler. Lots of deep breaths!
TINY TAGS: Are there any similarities between training for the Olympics and being a mom?
DANA: Definitely! Throughout my swimming career, I’ve had to learn how to adapt to situations and make the best of what I’m given on a particular day. I wish I could choose the day I’d prefer to compete—when I feel my best and everything seems to click—but competitions are on a set day regardless of the week I’ve had or how much sleep I got. Motherhood is the same. Children are unpredictable and routines and schedules are constantly changing. It doesn’t matter how many books you read or routines you have in place, the ability to go with the flow and figure out situations as they happen is a vital skill.
TINY TAGS: On your website you reference ‘Momma on a Mission.’ What is your mission?
DANA: My mission is staying healthy and strong throughout my pregnancy and having an active lifestyle with my family. Having a family doesn’t mean giving up on individual dreams. Dreams will shift and reconfigure, priorities will naturally change, and the paths to reach goals may be very different, but we can still reach them if we choose.
TINY TAGS: How did you stay motivated to train all these years?
DANA: My desire to train is directly linked to my desire to learn more about the human body—nutrition, sleep habits, movement patterns, and training regimens. I’m constantly questioning the norms and trying to find better ways to use my body to reach elite performance. The journey is never ending and my swimming career is not over yet!
TINY TAGS: You just announced that you are expecting baby #2. How did Arlen react?
DANA: My son Arlen just turned 2. We still wonder how much he truly understands, although his mind fascinates me daily. He now rubs my belly and says “baby” and has fun showing off the nursery as he says “baby’s room.” We’ve been reading books about having a new baby in the house and Arlen says he’s excited to help out. We asked him if he wanted to talk to the baby… he yelled “yes!” came up to my belly, stuck out his tongue, and blew spit all over me. He rolled over laughing hysterically…. a big brother already!
TINY TAGS: As we prepare to celebrate Mother’s Day on May 14, what has been the greatest lesson your mother has taught you?
DANA: My mother has been an amazing support system for me. She taught me that no matter what life throws at you, you can get through it and tomorrow is a new day! Children are an amazing blessing, but are sometimes hard to handle. But that’s OK! We get through the hard times and the good times are that much better for it.
TINY TAGS: Describe your perfect day.
DANA: I love the mornings. Arlen wakes up and softly says, “Mommy?” I go into his room and we snuggle and talk about his dreams. This was something my mother always did with me. We loved interpreting our dreams together.
Breakfast with my husband Andy follows. Arlen usually squeals about the chance for pancakes and eggs. After breakfast, we have our morning outing, either at the park, an indoor play structure, water park, or discovery museum. You name it, we love it! It’s amazing to watch Arlen run around and try to do everything.
After a busy morning (and being currently 26 weeks pregnant myself), we take a long nap. When we wake up, our other favorite activity is painting. We set out the different colors, lay big canvases on the floor, and go to town! We recently did a painting of Arlen’s whole body (feet, tummy, and hands)! He had a blast and loved being covered in paint.
Early evenings, when its beautiful outside, we spend time in the backyard. Digging with his tools and trucks, picking flowers for vases, making birdfeeders, kicking soccer balls, and scooter riding takes up our time until dinner. Right now, I’m lucky if Arlen sits at the dinner table for more than 5 minutes, so on a perfect day he would sit nicely at the table and eat dinner with my husband and I.
The evening winds down with 45 minutes of bath time (one of Arlen’s favorite activities)! Maybe it stems from my love of the water, but he loves playing in the bath. From water drums, to bath crayons, and (of course) a lot of singing, this is always a treasured time. We then read a few books and cuddle together in Arlen’s big boy bed. We sing goodnight songs. I whisper in his ear how amazing and special he is. I kiss him on the forehead and smile when he says, “Goodnight Mommy, Goodnight Daddy” in the cutest little voice. THAT concludes my perfect day!