Courtesy of Elizabeth Wickham
We’re coming up on a new swim season. Our kids have had a couple weeks off and we’ve enjoyed a short summer vacation. School is starting up and it’s time for our kids to jump back into the pool.
Like New Year’s Day, the start of swim season is a time to reflect on the prior year, plus plan for the season ahead. Our kids may be working on goals for this season, formulating them with their coaches. It’s the perfect time for us to figure out what we can do better, too.
Here are five things to work on to be an even more awesome swim parent:
Don’t focus on best times or winning.
It’s important for us to encourage the process and not get to caught up with results. Encourage your kids’ hard work, dedication and effort. Your swimmer may not drop time, be in a plateau—or discover that there are lots of faster swimmers out there. That’s okay. It’s the process that they control, not the outcomes. When we focus on times and results, we put too much pressure on our kids.
Reach out to a new parent.
Take a look at your fellow team parents. Are there parents you haven’t met? Or, don’t usually sit with at a meet? Take some time this season to reach out to newer parents. I’ll never forget when one swim mom smiled and invited me to help her in the snack bar. It was the first swim meet for my 7-year-old son and I was as overwhelmed as he was. A friendship began with a welcoming smile—that is still strong today—14 years later.
Volunteer. Try something different.
Get involved with your team. Ask the parent board or coach where they need help. The more we put into our team, the better our experience will be. Can you imagine the surprise when the 20 percent doing 80 percent of the work are asked, “What can I do to help?” If you already volunteer, it might be fun to try something new and help out in another area.
Nothing good comes from talking about other parents, swimmers or coaches on deck. A lot of stress and anxiety gets stirred up. So, when other parents start down that road, don’t jump in and participate. You can walk away or tell the talkers that you’d like to change the subject to something positive.
Be a good example to your kids by participating in a sport, walking, swimming or working out at the gym. If we stay in shape ourselves, we are showing that we think physical activity is a priority. You’ll feel better and have more energy for the busy swim season ahead.
What tips do you have for a fresh start in swim parenting?
Elizabeth 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.