Four years ago, I became a mom. Prior to this life-changing event, I had never babysat or changed a diaper , and I could count the number of babies I’d held on one hand.. I felt completely unprepared for motherhood. What I didn’t realize was that my background of 18 years of coaching various ages and levels of gymnastics would actually prove to be SUPER beneficial in becoming the best mom I can be. Today, I am sharing ten of the ways coaching has helped my parenting. My focus is on gymnastics coaching, but I truly believe all coaches and teachers will relate to most of my points. I hope you enjoy!
- It gets you used to hearing your name 1 MILLION times a day
I used to come home from coaching and complain to my husband about how all I heard all day was “Lacey, watch this!” “Lacey, Look at me!” it was constant – “Lacey, Lacey , Lacey…” Nowadays, I hear “Mom, Mom, Mom!”
When you are a gymnastics coach, you get used to catching kids when they fall. This comes in handy more than you might imagine during parenthood! HA! There have been a number of times my spotting skills have helped not only my own kids, but also random kids at playgrounds. As a parent, eventually it becomes second nature to catch a kid who is about to land on their head, but as a gymnastics coach, you get a head start to this training!
- Teaching your kids to fall safely
Another thing people may not realize about gymnastics coaches and gymnasts, is that they are trained to fall safely. It’s simple really – don’t lock your knees, don’t knee yourself in the nose, DO NOT put your arms behind you if you are falling backwards. These are all very common words from a gymnastics coaches mouth. Perhaps this makes coaches annoying parents, but safety is important! I also must say gymnastics coaches know how to have fun, so even if they are sticklers for safety, they are likely to let you do some crazy things! 😉
- How to help injured kids
This is another way that coaching has helped my child care abilities in a huge way. Through my own gymnastics career, and through coaching, I have seen and helped in a lot of emergency situations. Many more than the average person. So, while I have no medical training, I do have experience in emergency situations, and I have watched a lot of sports rehab/physical therapy. I also have taken a variety of coaching classes on CPR and how to spot and handle concussions. I don’t get scared when I see a kid get hurt, I take action. The number one thing I have learned during coaching is a phrase I learned from my former boss, Ryan Rohloff. I had a little girl fall from the beam, and she was crying hysterically. I was coaching without a partner that day, so as I struggled to help the little girl and keep my group busy, Ryan came over to assist me. I asked the little girl if she thinks she needs ice, and he said a phrase that has helped me SO MANY TIMES. He looked at the little girl, and calmly said, “Are you scared or are you hurt?” She replied through tears, “Scared.” She wasn’t even hurt! She took a bad fall, but she was just scared! Kids are resilient and can take some crazy spills, but usually at a young age, they are just scared. Seriously, remember that phrase if your kids are entering the toddler/elementary years… it’s GREAT.
- How to deal with a variety of kids
When you coach a team, you work with a variety of kids. Through coaching I have learned to feed kids who are gluten free, I have learned to use an epipen, and overall, I have just learned to manage a lot of personalities, attitudes and kids from all different upbringings. This is all valuable knowledge that I believe will come in handy as my kids have more and more friends and sleepovers and such!
- Strengthens intuition
Coaches see things before they happen and they learn to read children. They learn to relate and to be able to see things on an empathic level. You must build trust with your students, and with yourself, and this in turn strengthens your intuition.
- To be a teacher
I always notice I’m the parent at the park coaching my kid through climbing a ladder, rather than doing the work for her. I cheer her on when she is trying new things, encourage her not to give up, and clap the same way I would if one of my gymnasts made a skill for the first time. I ask her a lot of questions, and I try my best to have her figure things out for herself. Teaching is a very special gift, and it is very rewarding getting to teach your children everything!
- How to discipline
In a gymnastics gym it is completely dangerous to have no discipline, so it comes with the job. You MUST keep your kids at their designated event or area in the gym, and you must always have an eye on them. The second you let your guard down, a preschooler could run in front of a level 10 barreling down the vault runway. You also must learn to communicate with the kids you coach, and to make sure they are paying attention and listening to you to hear your instructions. Coaching not only prepares you to always keep an eye on your kids, it prepares you to sit kids down and talk to them about behavior, safety, and respect.
- How to come up with a ton of fun games and activities
Gymnasts play some great games, and build AWESOME obstacle courses, among other things. I always can come up with a kids’ activity, and it’s from the years of coaching! Any age group, any weather, any time of day, I have some silly team-bonding activity or game to play with kids!
- How to treat my kids’ teachers and coaches
By far the worst thing about coaching is the parents. This of course is my opinion, but I believe most all coaches agree. Certain parents I have dealt with in my years of coaching have taught me exactly how not to act. So far, my daughter has only has a couple teachers and coaches, so I haven’t been in the position much. I’m sure later in life there will be times I am frustrated with my kid’s coaches, and we shall see if I can follow my own advice. I have also met a lot of amazing parents, who have certainly inspired my parenting. Mostly, I think it’s about being grateful. Show your kids’ coaches and teachers that what they do for you and your children is appreciated. Respect their decisions. Teach your kids to say thank you to their teachers at the end of the day, and thank you to their coaches. As a parent, say thank you too! Something as simple as that goes a long way.
Gymnastics didn’t stop making an impact on my life when I stopped competing. It continued during coaching, and It has seriously made an impact on everything in my life, including parenting. I was certainly not the easiest kid to coach myself, so I am sure I taught my coaches some lessons in how to deal with feisty girls. I’m thankful for the sport everyday, it introduced me to many of the greatest influences in my life and it continues to help me strive to become and better and better person everyday! Has coaching or teaching had a similar impact on your parenting? Let me know how! I’d love to hear! If you are interested in tips on staying fit after kids check out my post on “How to Stay Fit as a Stay at Home Parent.” I hope you enjoy!
Much love & Happy Travels,
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