6 Tips for Swim Parents When Their Swimmer Says “I Don’t Have a Life!”

by SwimSwam 10

May 10th, 2017 Club, Lifestyle, Opinion

Courtesy of  Elizabeth Wickham

Maybe you’ll be one of the lucky ones and you’ll never hear your child complain, “I don’t have a life!” With heavy loads of homework, demanding practices and long meets, your child may face ongoing conflicts with his or her schedule.

It wasn’t until my daughter was a senior in high school that she realized she didn’t have a life. She faced more than a few conflicts that busy year. She was devastated when senior grad night at Disneyland was scheduled the same weekend as her high school championship meet, called CIF.

I told her, “You know, you can choose grad night.”  She looked at me in horror. “Of course I can’t. I’m a swimmer. Life’s so unfair.”

My daughter had sacrificed Friday night football games, concerts, and grad night to pursue her swimming goals. She was repeatedly telling “normal” friends, “No, I have practice or a meet.”

Here are six tips on what you can do if your child tells you, “I don’t have a life.”


Stay calm.

It may be a fleeting thought or normal grumbling of a tired teenager. They probably love swimming and have no intention of quitting.


Let them know they are right.

Swimmers have less free time than most teenagers. Acknowledge their feelings and tell them you’re proud of their sacrifices.


Remind them about the good times.

Swimmers have tons of fun hanging out with teammates, traveling to meets, bonding with a group of kids they might not otherwise know. They lead a life that other kids dream about.


Let your swimmer make choices.

Having more control over their schedules will help prepare them for college. Do they need all AP classes? Would it hurt them to go out with friends once in awhile? They will judge what they can and cannot do and will take ownership for their decisions.



What do they feel they’re missing? Why do they think they don’t have a life? Try to get them to express what they’re feeling. Letting them express their thoughts, without mom or dad jumping in and giving our nickel’s worth, will help them feel better.


Give Love and Support.

What if they have lost their love of swimming? It’s way too hard of a sport and a big time commitment if they’ve lost their passion. Be sure they know you will love them and support them in whatever they choose to do.

What other tips do you have for parents when their kids say they don’t have a life?

Elizabeth WickhamElizabeth Wickham volunteered for 14 years on her kids’ club team as board member, fundraiser, newsletter editor and “Mrs. meet manager.” She’s a writer with a bachelor of arts degree in editorial journalism from the University of Washington with a long career in public relations, marketing and advertising. Her stories have appeared in newspapers and magazines including the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Parenting and Ladybug. You can read more parenting tips on her blog. 

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Antonia Reed
6 years ago

It’s hard when they leave club swimming to have a life, but then during high school swim season, remember how much faster they used to go. There were more tears this year over that. But I gently reminded her of her 4.5 GPA and her 3 AP classes she took this year, her ability to see her friends after school, her mostly free weekends. They miss the results but not the work getting those results.

But… the know how hard to work to achieve almost anything now. Swimming, it’s what teaches a little bit of everything!

6 years ago

Great article Elizabeth,
Couldn’t agree more. Encourage them to take ownership of their career and focus on the positives that they have received from the sport. But most importantly, give love and support at every turn.
We’ve spent many nights hearing our daughter complain about what she has had to miss out on. But being just a little flexible and creative can go a long way. Sleepovers with non-swim friends were always a big one for her. But somewhere along the way, we came up with the plan of allowing her to go, as long as she got up and went to practice in the morning. Often, she’ll attend the sleepover, go to practice and get back to… Read more »

6 years ago

Great article. Sometimes it’s hard as a parent when a child has been on one path for a while, to realize the child may be ready for a change!

Rules rule!
6 years ago

Sooooo? What about alternative that don’t make you choose! For Sr.year club teams need to be more flexible…such as allowing Sr swimmers to make up practice at early practice times during younger age group practices. Oh I know…how dare we use up a lane for a Sr when we have 7, 8, and 9 year olds. Why? It’s a great opportunity for younger kids to witness, dedication, hard work, great technique and the reward of flexibility as you mature!

Reply to  Rules rule!
6 years ago

Seems like hardly the place for such a rant, you might want to reach out to your head coach or find a new place if this is such a situation to go off anonymously on a swimswam thread..

Rules rule!
Reply to  coacherik
6 years ago

Not a rant…simple observation! He

Reply to  Rules rule!
6 years ago

I have to assume you used to be one of those 7,8, or 9 year old swimmer that needed the lane space because you didn’t yet have the ability to handle an over crowded lane…

Rules rule!
Reply to  Shannon
6 years ago


8 years ago

This advice may only apply in certain cases; but, if your swimmer is interested in swimming in college, let them know the fun waiting for them there on their future college team will trump anything they will experience in High School 100x over. I reminded myself this constantly in High School… And I was right. College swimming was the greatest experience of my life!

Anne Lane
8 years ago

Great tips. Teen years are tough years even when you aren’t an athlete but these tips are good for teens in or out of sports. But 5 is key for any good relationship.