To much, to soon?

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FL gym mom

Proud Parent
Jun 30, 2012

First. sorry this is so long but I am happy to find somewhere to finally ask this....My daughter is 3 years old, 4 in Oct, and loves gymnastics. She seems to have a talent for it but I am her mother so of course I think so. She doesn't seem to be able to get enough of it but I get comments all the time that she does to much. Not from my DH or my parents,who help me get her to all her practices, but mostly from our friends. It gets to me sometimes, so I wonder, am I doing to much to soon?

Little background-My DD started gymnastics at about 14 months in mommy & me because she was climbing anything & everything. We loved her teachers & stayed with that gym for almost 2 years moving through the rec program. We did 2 classes a week and just before she turned 2 she also started a creative movements dance class. About a year ago I started noticing she was getting bored. She loved the skills part of class but not the silly times. Her teacher always joked about her being so serious. After several months I made the hard decision of trying another gym to see if it was the classes or the sport that was boring her.

The new gym immediately put her in an invite only class for 3-6 year olds, which meets 2x a week for an hour. She is thriving there. Since she started there in Jan she has gotten her cartswheel, forward roll with straddle, backward roll to pike, kickovers on the bar, and casts(?) into a back spin, she is so pretty on beam (I do not know gymnastics so don't know all the terms). l see her coach point DD out to other coaches working with the teams pretty often and she even pointed her out to the owner of the gym. They have already started talking to me about team when she is old enough.

Her original gym called a couple months ago and asked he to come try an invite only class they started. We missed the teachers so I figured why not check it out. Now we have been going there once a week also. It is more of a fun class for dd and she loves seeing the girls so I am having a hard time pulling her out again. I always say I am not going to sign her up again but then always end up back there. This puts her at 3 hours of gymnastics and 2 hours of dance (ballet/tap, & jazz) every week.

Then she got asked to try a cheerleading class. She wanted to go and I want to give her options so we tried it. That is now 2 practices a week. So she has 7 hours of classes each week.

Before you think I am completely insane, she is not in school. She stays home with my mom during the day while I work so these classes are her only activitiy/social time for the week. Most kids are in day care longer than that each day (can you tell I justify this to myself often?).

I keep asking what her favorite is and she always says all of them. One day a week she has 2 classes and now on the nights she only has one she asks to go to another one and gets "upset" when we go home instead. If she fights going to bed at night all I have to do is tell her what class she has the next day and she goes straight to bed with no arguement. I know my child and I know I am not wearing her out and I am asking all the time if she liked her class, if she wants to go again and she always says yes. I offer to let her skip a class sometimes and she always says no. She hates the weeks like Christmas/Spring break when we have no classes for a couple weeks.

My gut tells me she is fine with all the classes but I don't want to be wrong. Can any of you give insight to kids who just can't get enough and how you handle it? Thanks!
First of all, let me welcome you to the chalk bucket. This is a great supportive community of parents that "get it". I know it has been great to have a community of folks who are supportive and knowledgable and who are walking the same path as I am or have been there already and can lend such great perpective. I hope you can find support here as well.

If your dd chooses to stick with gymnastics, your friends will never really get it. At least that is my experience and I know that many parents have said that here before as well. It is tough sometimes and it only gets worse as their hours increase. Now, most of my friends accept that she is a gymnast and that I am crazy and love us anyway and are getting excited for her as they see this is something she loves so much, but when she was 4 and going to the gym twice a week for two hours, you would have thought I was subjecting her to some sort of torture.

Our path seems pretty similar to yours. We started at the little gym in mommy and me classes when The Fellows was about a year old. She loved the movement and dance and swinging and jumping and the "high beam" and we continued there until she was three. At this point she infomed me that there was way too much goofing around and I was to go find her somewhere where she could do "real gymnastics". I still don't know what that really all meant to her, but we tried a class at a club gym, they immediately moved her to the team development program and that was it, she was hooked and the rest is history. She is now newly 8 and training level 5 and is so excited that next week she gets to increase her hours to 12 a week. People still stare at me with confusion and a little bit of disgust when I say how much she trains.

It's great that you are giving her the opportunity to explore different things and if she is an active kid who likes to be busy, which we can all relate to here, and she's not in school then it seems like a pretty reasonable schedule to me.There will always be those who will tell you she needs time to be a kid, that she will miss out on too much. I can guarantee you my dd doesn't think she is missing out on anything. She knows she is special and wouldn't give up her time in the gym for anything. Only you know what is right for you child and what she can handle. Trust yourself and know that you can always come here and get honest and supportive feedback.

Welcome and good luck on your journey! :)
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I can see that if you said to someone my 3 year old does 7 hours of classes a week they would be shocked. It does sound alot. But as you describe how those classes built up from 1 a week and are in lots of different activities (I would include the fun gym class as a different activity from the other more pre team class as well ) then you can see how it has come about. It is great that she is getting to experience lots of different types of dance and gym activities. And none of the classes are long. As long as all the classes are age and level appropriate why not. Some children just want to try everything. And as she is not at school she won't be too tired.

As she grows she will probably drop classes bit by bit until she is left with her favourite.
So far it sounds ok to me. Five hours of structured activity, as long as she's into it, is no big deal. I'm assuming there are no sacrifices being made in terms naps, non-structured play, and down time. The skills you mention in your post seem pretty age appropriate, so I can't see any harm in continuing with things the way they are.

Just a bit of advice about her age and choices.....Try to drop her out of one of the gym classes to allow time to "try-out" a few other activities. Limit the activities to five hours total each week to give her the chance to choose to "come back" to the ones she really wants to be doing. I think this would be one way to let her figure out if gymnastic is "the one thing", as there may come a day where she'll have to choose one over all of the others
I don't see anything wrong with it, you are right if she was in day care it would be more like 30 hours a week of structured time. If she doesn't seem tired and is always keen to go then it should be fine. There is no need to make her choose at 3. There will be time for that later on.
Oh, I'm sure my dd whose birthday is in October (but is five years older) was in that much class at that age. She was also not in preschool and that probably makes a huge difference. My daughter is not an early talent in gym but she loved it then and loves team now.

If she's not tired then it's not that much for a kid who is not in school.
I totally get it. At 15 months my DD couldn't say gymnastics so she would get up every morning and say "Jump jump!!!". We tried different, cheer, etc, but she always wanted to go back to gym. Now she's 9 and going 12 hours a week (and BEGS to go the extra 2 on Saturday). She was at a birthday party yesterday with her school friends and someone asked if she was still doing gymnastics. Then the questions start. Then the jaws drop. But you know what? My DD looked just as happy, well adjusted, and in much better physical shape than most of them. I would rather have her active and learning self-discipline than sitting in front of the TV 14 hours a week. So yes, I think you are fine, and I think if your DD continues to love it and be the one pushing you to take her, she will eventually be part of a team where all of the extra stuff won't be an option. It's hard for other people to understand.
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My daughter had about the same schedule at that age. She did gym only once a week, and dance 3 days a week. As time went on she decided she just didn't like dance. I think she decided that if all the other girls in her class could do the moves they must not be that cool. She likes the "wows" she gets from her gym moves. As long as your daughter is having fun I think it is fine. She'll whittle down the activities on her own as she gets older.
You are not alone. I think most of us here started in the mom and me classes. My DD was 15 - 18 mos in the mommy and me because big brother was on the boys pre-team and she wanted to do that too (she could actually walk and talk fairly well at that age). So off to mommy and me we went. At 3 yo she started pre-team classes 2x a week for 3 hours a day. She loved loved loved it. Here we are DD in high school and 20 hours a week in the gym at the optional levels and on the HS gym team as well with more hours for practice there. Not one of my friends understand the hours or sacrafices made for DD to do this even my own parents are not exactly on board but it really is a calling for my DD - she won't be an olympian but she isn't awful either.

The path of gymnastics is a hard one for non gymnastic folks to grasp - they will never get it because there isn't another sport that is like it.

So long as your DD is haveing FUN first and just loves what she is doing then you are doing ok. Look at the programs you are enrolled in and you need to determine which is going to be the best for her. Which will not only be fun but also provide the training that you envision for your DD?

Keeping the "crazy gym mom" (CGM) hat off your head isn't easy and we have all been a CGM at one time or another. Just remember that non-gymnastic families will never understand this so don't feel guilty.

And most of all welcome to the CB and good luck with your DD
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