Courtesy: Elizabeth Wickham
What do Mozart, Benjamin Franklin, Tim Cook and Oprah Winfrey have in common with our swimmers? They were or are early risers—getting up before dawn—just like our kids wake up for morning practice.
Leaving the house in the dark at 5 a.m. to drive kids to the pool doesn’t make my list of favorite moments as a swim mom. Fortunately, I shared the duty with other parents and eventually, the kids got old enough to drive themselves. With numerous studies stating that teens need more sleep and school start times should be shifted later to accommodate their body clocks, are we harming our kids with morning practices? If you look at the benefits of morning practice, in my opinion, no. If practices are limited to two or three mornings a week, they can actually help our children.
In addition to improving their swimming, here are three ways kids benefit with morning practice:
Organizational skills. Our kids need to be in their suits with swim bags packed with gear, towel, shampoo and conditioner way before 6 a.m. Plus, school backpacks must be ready to go with homework, books, lunches and school clothes. Preparation has to start the night before. Most likely this will keep them from becoming a kid who prints out an essay minutes before school only to fight with a printer jam or discover it’s out of ink. They’ll want to get homework done and not procrastinate so they can fall into bed early.
Early riser habit. Many successful people are early risers from CEOs to artists. They find early mornings to be conducive to quiet time to think, be creative and to get work done without interruption. Our kids benefit by being introduced to early mornings as teens, which may become a habit throughout their swim careers and beyond.
Accomplishment. Our kids have tasted success before the sun rises. They fought against a desire to stay in bed and won. They’ve finished a demanding workout all while their classmates are still under the covers. This feeling of accomplishment feeds into their earned self-esteem. Yes, they may be tired, but they’ll feel confident and empowered.
What are your experiences—pro or con—with morning practices?
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.