ANDY MURRAY: BABIES CAN CHANGE YOUR PRIORITIES, WARNS PARENTING EXPERT
One of the U.K.’s leading authorities on parenting says Andy Murray’s dip in form since the birth of his first child is entirely understandable.
Sue Atkins, “The Parenting Expert,” says the demands and excitement of caring for a new life can change the priorities of the highest-flying individuals, making them reconsider their work-life balance.
Murray , whose daughter Sophia Olivia was born in February, has exited early from the two tournaments he has played since the birth, firstly in Indian Wells, California, where he lost in the third round to Federico Delbonis of Argentina.
On Monday, Murray, 28, lost in the third round of the Miami Open to Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, before dismissing talk of a rift with Amelie Mauresmo, his coach.
Annabel Croft, the former British number one, told BBC Scotland on Tuesday that Murray looked “tired and emotionally drained” and that regaining momentum was a “struggle” for the world number two.
“Babies are very demanding,” Atkins tells Newsweek Europe. “They need feeding, changing, nurturing — they cry, they don’t sleep according to when we want to sleep.
“Of course, it is joyous and wonderful, but it can be very tiring and demanding. So I would understand if perhaps he’s not on top of his game.
“It’s nerve-wracking because you have never had a small baby before and you worry about them, if they have got colic or a tummy ache or are crying… you’re trying to be a detective and work out what’s wrong with them. Add that to the pressures of being a professional sportsman and taking it seriously, your routine is knocked out.”
Atkins says she has seen highly-motivated professionals begin to struggle when a baby comes along.
“When you have a new child, your priorities change,” she says. “Getting up at 5.30 a.m. and going to Canary Wharf suddenly seems meaningless when you have got a small baby.
“Where you were totally ambitious, striving and striving, suddenly you have this adorable baby who depends completely and utterly on you for its survival. Everything changes. You don’t find striving so stimulating any more.”
Nor does life get any easier as a child grows up.
“You never stop worrying about your kids, even when they are 40,” Atkins says. “My kids are in their 20s and present different problems. Toddlers become independent; then you get the terrible twos where they scream and shout and throw a wobbly in the supermarket because you’re not giving them sweets. This is part of bringing up a baby and working; it’s tiring, full stop. Relax and accept it; it’s a phase and will pass.”
Murray will now spend time with his daughter and Kim Sears, his wife, before heading to the Monte Carlo Masters which begins on April 10.