We all balance many roles in life. These days, probably too many. Wife, Mother, Coach, Blogger, Friend . . . are just the beginning of my (Makenna’s) slightly overwhelming list. The challenge of course is managing all of the titles and not letting the most important roles (for me, that of wife and mother) get neglected because of my commitment to the others. I’m sure I’m not alone in this trial.
This Summer I added a new challenge to the craziness – I started co-coaching my daughter’s team. YIKES!!! The goal? To gracefully fill both the role of gym mom and coach without confusing one with the other. Only time (& my daughter) will let me know if this is possible. To prepare for this role-overlap I reviewed a Parent Handbook a fellow director and I created several years ago that addresses the unique sub-roles of parent, coach, and gymnast. I definitely have some things to work on!
Today I share the cliff note version of the numerous hats a gym mom (or dad) wears and why these jobs are so important to the happiness, health, and success of the gymnast.
1. Cheerleader – Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool!
One of the most important roles of a gym parent is that of a cheerleader! Yes, you may have heard a cheerleader joke or two circulate the gymnastics stands, but the truth is, we as parents should find no shame in emulating the traditional role of a cheerleader.
First, Cheerleaders create EXCITEMENT – this is not golf, we can clap, yell, celebrate, and let ourselves be heard! Cheerleaders know how to contribute to the positive energy of an event without interacting with the athletes. The key is to not to distract the gymnasts, but let them know we’re there!
Next, Cheerleaders provide UNCONDITIONAL SUPPORT – they are the most devoted fans. Their love, commitment, and support for their athletes are not contingent on the outcome of the game.
Cheerleaders also have unwavering BELIEF in their athletes. To them the game is not over until the time runs out. The season is not over until the last game. And there is always another year. With that said, belief is not to be confused with the pressure of expectation.“A lot of people have gone farther than they thought they could because someones else thought they could.” – Zig Ziglar
2. Banker – Investing in your child is a sound investment; but not always a cheap one!
We all know this can be an expensive sport. The best plan is to plan ahead, but don’t bank on the future!
First, what should we plan for? Talk to your coach or director for a comprehensive list of what items you need to budget. Here are some items to get you started: monthly tuition, competition leotard & warm-up, USAG membership fee, meet entrance fees, coaching fees, and gate fees. Depending on your child’s level/gym you should also be prepared to pay for floor music, choreography, and out-of-state traveling costs. You may also want to plan for camps or clinics. It can all add up fast! So be prepared and get creative! Some gyms offer fundraisers or gym-trade (cleaning/office help) to offset costs.
If we want your children to stay NCAA eligible, all these expenses will be withdrawals from the bank without any monetary “deposits”. In other words, gymnasts cannot make money through their gymnastics!!! Sometimes I hear these costs justified as “payments” towards college with the college scholarship as the reward. Yikes! There is no guarantee and this is an awful burden to place on a child. In fact, there is no guarantee that our children will love gymnastics until their Senior Year of high school, nor that they’ll have the skill set for collegiate gymnastics. Is it not better to look at the cost of gymnastics as an investment in your child’s character and the journey as the reward?!
3. Chauffeur – You can’t give your kid a kip, but you can get them to the gym to learn one.
This role is fairly simple. Getting our children to gym on time and often allows for proper instruction and physical development. If tardiness or attendance is an issue, ask around for carpooling options. Your gym may help you with viable options.
4. Nutritionist – Poor food choice can have ill-effects immediately, as well as over time.
The role of a nutritionist is a bit more complicated. Here are ideas to get us started.
(1) Snacks are IMPORTANT – Pack your athlete a healthy snack for pre and post workout (if practice is more than a couple hours, you may want to provide a snack for during as well). Offer healthy options, but don’t force them to eat. For good snack ideas check out our 10.0 Grab & Go list or this one by Coach Casie HERE. For more nutritional information check out USAG’s Healthy Nutrition article.
(2) Keep them HYDRATED – Send gymnasts with a water bottle or have one ready for them in the car before/after workout. Want to know why? Read Athletes: The Importance of Good Hydration.
(3) SUBSTITUTE with healthier options – Use Almond Butter instead of Peanut Butter. Offer Humus instead of other dips. Try Vegenaise instead of Mayo. You get the idea.
(4) Make it CONVENIENT – Pre-cut/prepare food and store it in individual serving sizes. I love Real Simple’s Refrigerator Snack Station ideas.
(5) Teach them WHY – If healthy food is presented as fuel, it might be less of a fight. Teach them why WHAT they put in their body can effect HOW they perform at the gym. Sometimes the most powerful tool in convincing them of the importance of proper eating habits, is your example!!! If you need help, start HERE.