By SHANNON MCLELLAN, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — Over the past year dealing with the pandemic, many have had a hard time navigating fitness, mental health and parenting — and WNBA star Candace Parker is no exception.
Parker is a five-time WNBA all-star and a broadcaster for Turner Sports. Her most important role, however, is being a mother to 11-year-old Lailaa.
Like so many parents around the world, she has had to find balance for herself, her work and her child during this difficult year.
“I kind of always have been the Uber driver, the doctor, the chef, the teacher and all that stuff,” Parker said. “Now it’s just more hours.”
More hours equals more time spent together.
While Parker said she has really enjoyed getting to spend more time with her daughter, she also said it’s been important for each of them to find time for themselves.
“I know sometimes it’s hard with single parents,” Parker said. “But just finding that ‘me’ time, whether it’s waking up 30 minutes earlier or going to bed 30 minutes later, trying to carve out some time that you get to do what you want to do.”
Part of Parker’s “me” time, as a professional athlete, is finding time to work out.
For many, finding time for fitness can be difficult while trying to balance everything else during the pandemic.
“I schedule my workout like it’s in my calendar as a meeting,” Parker said. “For Zoom meetings, you show up for them because they’re in your calendar, and you know what time you’re supposed to do it. There’s really no excuse. That’s kind of my best way in trying to hold myself accountable.”
With fitness also comes healthy eating. Parker recently partnered with Sabra to promote healthy snacks, not just for herself, but for her daughter as well.
“Sabra is a part of our refrigerator because of my daughter,” Parker said. “To have something that’s accessible, that’s good — it’s something that we can agree on. I feel like that’s kind of one step in the right direction of something that she enjoys eating as well as something that I am OK with having her eat.”
Apart from prioritizing her and her daughter’s physical health, Parker said she has also focused on prioritizing their mental health throughout the pandemic.
“We have a lot of conversations, I would say just to make sure and check in sometimes and asking somebody what they need,” Parker said. “She’ll get to pick what we have for dinner or pick a book we read aloud together — making sure that we’re still able to do what we like and and what we’re passionate about.”
Passion also played a major part in Parker’s latest career decision. After 12 years with the LA Sparks, Parker signed with the Chicago Sky — in her hometown — for the 2021 season.
“I’m going to be able to take my kid back and play on the same court and the same swing set that I played on and be around people that helped me grow up,” Parker said. “I think it’s just being close to family. If anything during COVID, that’s what we’ve learned is that’s what’s important.”
When asked what advice she has for parents trying to navigate life amid the pandemic, Parker said, “I just think that there’s no blueprint for these times. You just do the best you can as a parent and then as an individual really. Check on the people that you love. We’re all just trying to do the best we can.”
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.