Our daughter recently turned five and for her birthday we bought her a gymnastics bar and mat. One day she said to me, “Hey mom, I have an idea. Why don’t you blog about my gymnastics bar, since you know, your blog is about fitness, and gymnastics is fitness.” Her comment to me went much deeper than she knows. Not only is she actually giving me valuable feedback and ideas for my blog (at 5 years old), but she’s connecting all of the dots by saying, Mom – your blog is about fitness, and gymnastics is my fitness – it’s kids fitness. Goodness gracious moms, our kids are SMART and they watch us, they pay attention, and apply things more than we sometimes give them credit for.
So, after my daughter suggested I blog about gymnastics, it got me thinking. We are all at different seasons in our lives. Our kids all have different personalities, likes and interests. So what does kids fitness look like? Whether it be soccer, karate, hip hop class, ballroom dancing, or playing the drums, kids fitness takes on many different forms. It is not something that fits into a circle perfectly for every family. However, the key is to find the best fit for your family, own it, and run with it!
Finding the best fitness activity for your kids
For our family personally, we find it important for our kids to be involved with a extracurricular activity. Our daughter is a spitting image of my husband and we often have to pull in the reigns with her. She would do everything if we let her, even if just to try it. She did soccer last year, and while it was super cute and entertaining to watch, we could tell she was so so about it. So, we thought through our next move and asked her about gymnastics and she jumped on the idea. Oh.my.goodness friends, we hit the jackpot. She found her niche! I quickly realized, while activities are great and so important for kids, it is equally important to find that activity that they love and actually enjoy doing, not just what we tell them they are going to do. It’s important to listen to our kids – pay attention to what makes them jump and what gets them excited.
Where kids fitness and teachable moments meet
When we began gymnastics class with Brylee, we put her in a fun/recreational class. I don’t have a desire to become one of those parents who travels every weekend going to competitions, spends hundreds of dollars on gear, and makes this our life (my sports enthusiast husband may think otherwise). But for me, it is important to just keep my kids active, interacting with others, and engaging in something outside of the home.
About 5 months into her gymnastics class, her coach told us that she had outgrown the class and needed to move into a developmental class that was by invite only. Our daughter is very shy, and this made me really nervous. In her current class she was confident and comfortable. She left every week with positive affirmation and minimal critiques. Her coach explained that the developmental class went from fun/recreational to serious – getting ready for competitions. This scared me. I just wanted her to have fun, I didn’t want this to get serious. That night, I brought it up with my husband and explained my concerns. He gave me a look like I was crazy! I internally wrestled with moving her up, because I didn’t want her to be too hard on herself. But, I also knew, for so many life teaching lessons, it would be really good for her.
Yes, she was really great in her current class, but that wasn’t teaching her anything about working hard to get to the next level. Realizing that sometimes you have to practice hard to get it right. It wasn’t teaching her how to take constructive criticism with her head held high. I wasn’t “helping” her by keeping her in her comfort zone forever.
So for these reasons, I knew we had to move her up. So we did, and it was the best decision we could have made for her, she loves it! She has grown so much, learned how to take critiques head on and practice hard to become better. Her determination and willingness to learn has been really fun to watch. I love seeing the smile on her face when she has practiced so hard at something and she finally masters it. Through this process, I quickly realized, although I still have no desire to be a gymnastics mom who travels every weekend, there are so many life lessons that she will take away from this class and apply to real world experiences.
What if my child is not athletic and has no desire to do anything sports related?
You are not alone! I was not super athletic growing up. My freshman year of high school, I played volleyball and it was a disaster. I couldn’t serve overhand, so the coach would rotate me out before it was my turn to serve. It was bad, and embarrassing, and so stressful for me!! Thinking about it now, it is kind of hilarious, but at the time, I just wanted the year to be over. So while I quickly moved on from volleyball after my freshman year, I was very involved in my youth group at church. I have so many great memories of mission’s trips, outreach activities, and helping with different events. Although I wasn’t “physically active in a sport,” I stayed so busy! There were so many life lessons and experiences that I strongly believe helped shaped me into who I am today. I would not have had these takeaways from playing volleyball for three more years. Perhaps your child has taken an interest in photography or drums or something else. That’s great! Feed those interests and gifts and help guide them! This is where fitness does not fit into a perfect circle for every family, and that is OK!
We may be over the gymnastics phase in a few years with our daughter, or we may be “those” traveling parents. I really have no idea, but what I do know is that as parents it is so important to be our children’s cheering squad. We must pay attention to what their gifts and interests are and help them navigate those through life. Kids have so many distractions today along with so much pressure and competition around them. It is hard to be a kid today! As parents, we need to be their safe haven, their biggest fans, and the one’s that help them navigate their way through this complicated world. Stay strong mamma’s, cheer on your child’s strengths and gifts, it will pay off!!