It’s Hard to Be a Swim Mom

It takes a lot of support to keep this girl swimming!

My daughter is a swimmer, so does that make me a swim mom?  I have pretty conflicted feelings about that label.  While some mother’s embrace it, you won’t catch me wearing a blinged out shirt with swim mom displayed on my chest.  The recent Proctor and Gamble commercial playing for the Olympics has made me reflective of my role in my daughters swimming.  Will she win the big race and run over to me to say thank you?  Can’t say for sure, but I also think that 30 second commercial doesn’t truly depict the duties of a swim mom.  So here’s a brief summary of our additional mommy duties if your child is a swimmer:

1.  Taxi Service

There is a lot of driving to and from the pool.  If you have multiple children, there is little chance they will be practicing at the same time.  You may be dropping of one to then pick up another and then need to go back again.  Most of the time they are getting an amazing cardiovascular workout while your bottom remains planted in the driver’s seat.  The most movement you get is your right foot moving back and forth from the gas to the break.

2.   Master chef of quick meals

Swim practice usually hovers around dinnertime.  It’s pretty late when everyone is home, so quick healthy meals are a must.  The crock pot is your best friend as it can feed many at different times.  Family dinners every night are a thing of the past, so quality time with all kids needs to be scheduled.

3.   Pack mule

Do you have any idea how much stuff a kid needs for a swim meet?  Swim meets last for hours and you need to be prepared to camp out while you wait for your child’s event.  Here’s a list of my bare minimum needs for a swim meet:  chairs, multiple towels, warm up suit, racing suit, cap, goggles, spare cap, spare goggles, water, sports drink, fruit, crackers, energy bars, money, book, phone, video games, playing cards, shade (umbrella or tent), clothes, flip flops, highlighter, sharpie, sunscreen, parka (for cold weather) and a swim bag.  Parking isn’t usually close so you have to delicately balance all this stuff on your body and hike to the pool, secretly praying you don’t fall over.

4.   Manager

It is your child’s responsibility to get to the block on time for their events.  When your child is young, that responsibility lays on your shoulders.  There can be 20 events per day and you need to pinpoint when your child is swimming and keep track of the meet to make sure they don’t miss their event.  When it’s getting close, you search the grounds for your child who is playing with her friends and tell her to get behind the block.  If you have multiple children, you are always on the move trying to find your child for their event (this part makes up for your lack of exercise in the taxi service job).

5.   Cheerleader

This is the fun part during the meets.  You can get all your nervous energy out by yelling at the top of your lungs.  I asked my child once if she could hear me cheering for her as she was racing.  She said no, but she liked the fact that she knew I was out there yelling for her.  So I continue to yell, knowing she can’t hear me, but she can feel my support.  I think daily cheerleader is also a component.  Practices are hard and kids need to hear that their work is paying off.

6.   Bank

There are many sports more expensive than swimming, but the costs can add up quickly.  There are the standard monthly swim dues, but there are always extras.  Swim meets cost money to participate and if they are out of town, there are travel expenses as well.  No matter how much food you bring to the swim meets, the kids always “need” something from the snack bar.  And I really can’t believe how much the swimsuits cost.  Training suits run $40-80 (and they need a few of these) and racing suits are $100-$500.  Racing goggles can be $40, but with how easily those are lost my kid can stick with the $16 pair.  None of this is a one-time purchase, because these kids are growing all the time (or losing things).

7.   Source of perspective

Swimming isn’t everything and your child should know that.  If they are feeling discouraged, they need to know that this is supposed to be fun and a great way to stay in shape.  Very few will be world champs, but so many can benefit from the great things swimming has to offer.

8.   A soft place to fall

Hate to quote Dr. Phil, but he states that children should know that their family is a soft place to fall.  No matter what they do, you are the place for constant support and unconditional love.  It is your job to let your child know that no matter what she does in the pool, your arms are a safe, supportive, loving place for her – always.

I am far from perfect and have failed at one or more of these tasks at one time or another.  Being any kind of mom is hard work.  But, seeing your child blossom in a sport and learn all those important lessons of life, makes it all worth it in the end.  So I guess I’ll end this blog now, because I need to pack up for my daughter’s swim meet tomorrow 🙂

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