Parents Any advice.. to new parent

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Hi all. My name is Amber. My daughter started gymnastics last summer at the age of 4.. after a year of begging my to sign her up. She is now 5. She started out taking 1 hour preschool class every week. Then after a couple months wanted to go more so I signed her up for 2 preschool classes per week. Last month they gave her the invitation to join Pre-team... which is 2-4 hours per week. She currently does 1 2 hour class and is having the time of her life. Last night her coach offered her more time and really wants to work with her more. Says she has the natural ability and would love to work with her more. And there was an opening for her to take more hours. Which could be 1-3 hours long. And would love her to take the 3 hour long class and see how she does. So this would increase it to 5 hours a week. And also offered her to take a special class over the summer months training 9 hours a week that would start a more extensive training for the US team. Her coach is amazing, and my daughter loves her. All she does around the house is flip and tumble and "choreograph" her own floor routines while watching Nastia Liukin over and over LOL. So I guess my questions are... is this too much? how do I handle my other children? My husbands work hours make it hard for him to watch the other kids which there are 5 altogether... my stepdaughter, then our 4 kids. My stepdaughter also does beginners gymnastics she is almost 9. She is very upset that she isnt going anywhere with it and not getting moved up. Any suggestions on how to deal with that?
I love that my daughter is doing so well. I always wanted to do gymnastics as a kid but my parents didnt have the money. I don't ever want to push my dream on to my daughter. I always want this to be "her" dream. So any advice on this would be greatly appreciated. I know its going to be a long ride and hopefully a happy one. But as my other children get older... they are 3, 20 months, and 3 months old... how will I make sure they are all able to do whatever activity they want. Money wise and time wise. How do I handle all this. I should also mention we live 40 minutes from the gym and my daughter starts Kindergarten this fall.
Sorry for going on and on and jumping all over the place. But any advice from parents in similiar situations and such would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for listening to me ramble.
If only crystal balls really worked!

I'm sure your daughter is enjoying herself. It sounds like she has a love for gymnastics. As for hours, I would look to her for clues, especially when she starts school. If she is too tired or not keeping up with schoolwork, you will know it is too much.

Is there anyone in your area that goes to the same gym? Could you carpool, especially if she is there more in the summer?

It is tough when one is doing well, and the other isn't. All she can do is ask the coaches what she can do to improve at home. If she works hard, you never know. Is there another choice besides USAG? Some areas have other gymnastic teams that are still competitive in different organization, but move at a different pace than USAG.

Unfortunately, as the hours increase, so does the price (although the per hour cost usually goes down). It is something a lot of us are facing. We love the sport, and love how our children have grown in the sport, but it is very expensive. You never know how long a kid will love it, so we take it year by year in our house. If she grows tired of it, it will be time to stop. Until then, we do the best we can to keep her in it.

With that many children, you must already be used to going in 20 directions at once! It will be tough to manage, and I would just suggest doing what is best for your family. You don't want to put too much of a time or financial burden on your family, and don't want your daughter to ever feel that her sport of choice is a burden either. There are ways to make it work, and somehow many of us find a way.
Hi Amber! I posted under your other thread too, so I'll try not to repeat myself here. But you really do have your hands full! I would say that networking is going to be a very important tool for you. As your kids get older & the younger ones start getting involved in activities, you will need help getting everyone where they need to be. Make friends with other parents, where every you go! Eventually you will need them to help carpool, etc. As for your step-daughter, maybe gymnastics just isn't her "thing". My older DD did gymnastics, but never had the same talent as the younger one. I faced the same thing, she was unhappily "stuck" in beginners, while younger sis moved to preteam & beyond. Finally, she just didn't want to do it anymore & moved onto other activities. I just told her, people are different & have different just need to find what yours is. There are many sports/activites less expensive then gymnastics! Community soccer,t-ball,swim team just a few off the top of my head that DD tried. Check with your township building to see what your community has available or check into your local YMCA. As they get older you may want to steer them towards school activities & sports to save $. Don't get overly stressed out worrying about the future! Take it one day at a time & ENJOY your children while they're little...enjoy every stage! As they grow, so will you, in ways you never imagined! You can do it! It's going to take lots of planning & organization, but try to enjoy every step of the way. I'm sure you'll get lots of helpful advice here. Good luck!
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Hi Amber! I'm in NEPA also. Don't know what gym you are using, but it sounds like the gym your stepdaughter is going to isn't a good fit. There has been a lot of turnover in coaches in the gyms around here, and seriously, if she isn't happy with her progress, look around. My DD started at 4 at a gym in Archbald. Loved it there, but she wasn't learning anything that was going to get her anywhere, even on the pre-team. It wasn't until she started doing parades with her gym that she realized kids her age were doing a lot more than she was and we started looking for a program that was a better fit.

I would say that with any age, the fit of the gym is everything. You have to trust the coaches, know that they are spotting safely, and that if the child wants to advance they can do it at a resonable pace, not totally pushed, or held back.

Definitely talk to other parents about car-pooling. I live in a place where car pooling is pretty much impossible, but my DH and I can usually work it so I drop off and he picks up (I have two other kids also) or I take them to the "Y" while we are waiting for the other to get out of gym. Just get creative with scheduling. It gets crazy sometimes, but I think it does anytime you have more than one child and more than one set of interests!

Feel free to PM me if you want to talk off list
Flippersmom and gymjourneymom... thank you for the advice... DD definetly loves gymnastics. Thats all we hear and watch and do. Which is great. And we have explained to her in a way that she can understand that if it ever gets to be too much she needs to tell us. And we will support her no matter what decision. We will see how things go when school starts. Schoolwork is definetly first and foremost. As far as carpooling, unfortunately we are WAY out in the middle of nowhere and 40 minutes from the gym. There are closer gyms, but the gyms closer to us dont have a very good rep. And my DD loves her coach and we also do. We felt comfortable there from day one. But we do have nearby grandparents that could help if it gets to tough. Unfortunately my in-laws are not too happy. Because my stepdaughter is not advancing and DD is. I am going to try and not sound insulting here, but my stepdaughter is not very coordinated, very low self esteem, and only signed up for gymnastics because DD did. She is in a way trying to compete with DD. Which I guess is typical. We have full custody and her bio mom has weekend visitation and biomom has threatened to pull her from gymnastics (she pays for stepdaughter) because its "Not Fair" to stepdaughter. We however make the final decision in that and as long as SD wants to continue for fun we will keep her in there. We have tried other things with her T-ball, but we had to drive her kicking and screaming... then tapdance... she refused after 1 lesson. She is not the outgoing type unlike my DD... we have told her time and again she can try whatever she wants. And have offered several things to her. Unfortunately its just something where she is going to have to get her feelings hurt. Grandparents feel that it is not fair we let DD continue and move up because SD isnt. Well we feel differently. Thats a whole other family issue there. So I won't get into that.

As far as money, yes this is something we are worried about. My husband makes decent money but its only one income and 5 children. Its definetly tough especially since he commutes anywhere from 1 hour to 4 hours away for work. But we are willing to go to whatever extent our bank account will allow. Luckily for us our gym is very good and prices. The cheapest around.

And yes I am always going in 20 different directions and I know it will only get more hectic as my children get older and more involved. But I am determined to make this work and allow every child to have their own choice in activities and such and will try to the best of my ability to spend equal time on all of them.
I definetly feel that school related activites and sports is the best way to go. Least expensive and time consuming.

Thank you both for your advice.. I am sure I will utilize this forum often. As this is all very new to me. Its going to be fun. Luckily I am the type that is organized and motivated and willing to sacrifice everything I can for my children.
Me again! About your stepdaughter...maybe sports in general aren't her "thing". My older DD tried everything, she very shy & non-competetive(not that coordinated either). She did excel at swimming, but didn't like the pressure to swim faster. Long story short...she has become a very talented artist! Her art has won art shows! She is even thinking of going to college for art. Maybe you need to think outside the box for SDD(step daring daughter). Where do her interest/talents lay? Help her to explore & find her own place to excel. If she has her own area to excel, it will lessen the competetion between the sibs. Good luck! Feel free to PM me if you'd like!
Well one thing I forgot to mention is SDD does one thing that she is very well at, may not sound like much to some but she is a junior dog shower/co owner. Her biomom has a job working for dogowners/breeders/shows that have allowed SD to co-own one of the dogs and show her at the junior level. She is very good at this and has received 3 first place ribbons in just one year. Unfortunately this is something we are not involved much with because its always on her moms time over the summer and such. And we are never told about the shows until afterwards... which makes it look like we dont care. Which is definetly not true. So yes there is something else she is involved in. As far as anything else there isnt much. She spends a lot of time working on homework as she struggles in school as well. Its tough for her. But hopefully she will find her place somewhere, we are encouraging her to try cheerleading, a few of her girlfriends from school do it. But again they started a lot younger. And she was not allowed to try things when she was younger because we didnt have full custody of her then and her mother did not allow her to do things. Her mother though is getting better about things. But now its a competition to with her mother. She doesnt want my kids to excel at something her daughter doesnt. Blended families are definetly tough LOL. But I take it with a grain of salt... thats just how some people are.
Is there an ice skating rink around? Our gymmie's BFF wanted to do gymnastics, but she just wasn't coordinated enough...she quit gymnastics and tried ice skating and was doing very very well. Then she "discovered" the violin and that is her passion! She started at school and has since moved on to private lessons and being in the city's youth orchestra.
Hi and welcome! My dd also started gymnastics at age 4 and by the summer was going 9 hours a week for preteam. She moved to team while still 5yo and practiced 12 hours a week. She's now 7 and we are going 16 hours a week. It's very easy to quickly get sucked into more hours and the expense goes up with each level. The training costs are then augmented by costs for leotards, warmups, and competition. If you then have other children (say your 3 yr old or 20 month old) who want to get into gym, it gets even pricier. We have one family at our gym with three kids on team and their expenses are well over $1,000 per month for everything. It sounds like your dd enjoys gym and is talented, but you should be aware of where you are headed. I had not a clue when my dd started taking a one hour a week gymnastics class that three years later we would be where we are! I don't regret it at all as my dd also loves gym, but our lives would be a lot easier and we'd have a lot more money if we didn't have a team gymnast.

You are really going to have to be organized and find carpools too, especially when your kids get older. I have only three kids and we are dealing just this weekend with two soccer games, a gymnastics meet and a guitar lesson. There is not one single night of the week where we can sit down to eat dinner as a family because the kids all have activities that go on until 7 or 8 every night. I cannot imagine adding in two other kids activities on top of that. We can only manage because my dh does a lot of the work of transporting the kids here and there.

I don't mean to be a downer or anything, I just believe in going into things with your eyes open and with a real idea of where you are headed. I'm sure that it will be worth it to see your dd blossom as a gymnast.

gymgramma, there is a icerink somewhere down in the city but not quite sure where. I am really thinking about having her try some kind of instraument. I played the flute as a kid and loved it. Maybe since she isnt as "athletic" as some kids, maybe that would be a different way to go.
Meg.. thank you for your outlook on things. I know we definetly didnt see going into this that in such a short time it would be way more than expected. But I have definetly done my research on gymnastics and I am keeping myself into reality here that we may not be able to afford for her to be on the US team... but they do however have a rec team that does 3-4 competitions per year... and thats only 9-10 hours of training a week. Which is what she will be doing over the summer. So that much I think we can handle. But I definetly want to keep my head out of the clouds and keep in mind what a sacrifice this will be one everyones part. We are still at the point of wait and see. She is still very new to this. We are taking her to a home meet in April so she can see what the competitive part is all about. If she chooses to go that route then great we will support her. But competitive gymnastics is still at least a year or more away. So we will see then once she gets a better understanding of what all this is going to take. Thank you for your thoughts
Amber, it sounds like you have a good plan and are going to take it slowly. I only wish that I had known what I know now before we got past the point of no return with gym. I think going slowly is a great idea.

As for SDD, definitely try a musical instrument. My ds is not at all athletically inclined but has discovered a real talent for guitar.

may not sound like much to some but she is a junior dog shower/co owner. . . . . And we are never told about the shows until afterwards... which makes it look like we dont care.

I think that is awesome and maybe if you focus on that with her she won't get sucked into this competition thing her biomom is starting. She's 9 - you should be able to talk to her about her competitions - ask when the next one is- tell her you would all love to come to watch.

make sure she understands that your little one has a talent - like she has with the dogs.

Hope that helps! Good Luck and Welcome to the crazy world of Gym parenthood
Thanks everyone... its going to be a wild ride LOL... I know things will all work out they way they are supposed to. Just as long as I dont run out of caffiene LOL
Advice from the end of the rainbow. Why do I say that? Because post-gym, there's a lot more money left in the pot! Mine stayed in long enough to compete at the optional levels. During the season, because we were now traveling throughout the region, meet travel expenses could equal the tuition payments.

Ok, I had two kids in gym. One got off to a very slow start. Took rec classes, took a break, then went to team. She competed through level 8 and ended her career with an AA medal at regionals (forget what place). She now works at the gym.

What I learned from her:
1. You do not have to start in preschool and continue straight through to be successful. If your child wants to take a break and try some other things, do it. Yes, she'll loose skills and "get behind" during her break. Big deal.

2. Hard work is WAY more important than talent. Dd1 outlasted and outperformed far more talented kids because of her pit-bull tenacity.

3. When it hurts, STOP. This is my biggest regret as a gym parent. The doctors found no damage in her painful knees, so I let dd continue training. Big mistake. She hurts every day now. She'd have been mad as heck if I'd have made her quit, but I should've endured that wrath. If your dd develops chronic pain in any area or has a recurring injury, make her quit. Really, is a few years of gymnastics worth a lifetime of pain?

Dd2 loved gym from the minute she set foot in the door. What I learned from her:

1. Don't give in to the mounting pressure to move up and move up quickly. After dd2's level 4 season, the coaches wanted to have her move up to level 7 (do a 5 meet to qualify, 6 the rest of the fall season and 7 in the spring). I said no. I let her do a 5 qualifier and move right to 6, but kept her out of 7. She was too little for that many hours.

2. When it's time to go, it's time to go. Lots of times, we try to talk our dds into staying with the sport. We're pretty sure they don't REALLY want to quit--must be some other issue to work through. Let them stop.

And other advice -
Know your limits--financial, time, emotional. See, every level is just a few more dollars and a few more hours a week. It's easy to get in over your head.

Things were easier for me because I had 2 kids at the gym. Even with different practice and meet schedules, at least they were headed in the same direction. There's no way we could've handled two different directions (we both work FT, and dh's job, though more flexible, has lots of night and weekend work). I have no advice about juggling schedules for 5 kids.
Just to add my .02 for what its worth. When you talk about the US team are you referring to their USAG program vs the rec team at the gym? Most kids have some potential, but at age 5 its probably impossible to predict what any of them will do with it or where they will be at age 12(most won't even be in the sport). It won't get cheaper---thats a given. You will spend more money for each level dd moves to and more time on the road unless you can work out some type of carpool. I know of parents that do a drop off to another parent about 1/2 way to the gym.

Sounds like dd is doing about 2 hours/week, but the coach wants to increase to as many as 9? That a big jump and with all the other kids, you could find your summer is very limited on what you can all do together. Is there some middle groud as far as hours go, let her get used to more without too much stress on family and then discuss an increase later on?

Asking a 5yo who is in love with an activity to tell you if it gets to be too much is like asking them to do calculus----they just don't understand that concept. These kids will go and push themselves til they drop. You and DH need to monitor dd to see if she's able to handle the increased hours. Sounds like your plate is overflowing, so my advice is not to take on too much at one time----slow and easy wins the race(or at least keeps you sane!)
Hi Amber and welcome to the CB!! Five kids?---God bless you!!!

My only advice is to go with your instincts on any situation. Also, try not to be influenced by the "pressure to go all the way". I'm not trying to sound harsh or anything. Your dd sounds like she has a lot of talent as a 5 yr old. But you also have to be realistic inthe sense that she will start school next year and you do have 4 other kids. Your best bet is to take it slow and follow her lead. Give her plenty of time to be a kid and play.

My dd did all star cheer for 3 years (started at age 6) and we quit last year because it was too intense. The travelling, the pressure from coaches and other kids on the team, and the money took its toll on her and me. We decided to switch to a MDL gymnastics last year that only competes 6 times a year and is at a slower pace than USAG. DD is so happy, doing really well, and not nearly as stressed. She loves it!

Just monitor her hours and there is no need to rush into anything. More hours does not necessarily mean "better" or that she will advance quicker. Slow and steady is usually the way to go.
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You've gotten some great advice. I don't think that I can add to it, but I think that you might get something from these documentary shorts

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When you talk about the US team are you referring to their USAG program vs the rec team at the gym? Most kids have some potential said:
I am also in agreement here...I think it is impossible to decide whether a child that young will have great successes. We are at a very competitive gym with many elites and our coach has told us it is impossible to tell who will make it to that level (US team). Talent is only one piece of the puzzle---there has to be the right coaching, mindset of the athlete and the physical quality (strength and flexibility) after puberty that plays a part for girls. I don't want to dash any dreams for you--but I do think that at 5 fun should be the most important of it for now. 9 hours seems like a lot for a kindergartener to handle, but you know your child best. My dd works out 30+ hours a week on an elite path, we have had to make changes for schooling and adjust our vacations to accommodate gym. My dd is 12 and aware of all involved--so for right now we can support her. I just know that the hours start coming faster and faster. Her talent will be there---but right now add a couple and enjoy her being 5. It will be easier on her body and on your family time.

As far as your sdd goes--I am sorry it is so hard with your inlaws. Can you talk to the bio mother and see if she can tell you about the dog showings? (I personally love to watch dog shows) Maybe the inlaws could fill you all in. I have 4 kids--all of them have tried gym, I has potential and the other is only 4. I think you are wise to keep seeking out other alternatives for her. What about acro gymnastics? Tramp & tumbling? Rythimic? Just some ideas...

Welcome to CB--it is a great place and you can always get a question answered. Please know these are just my opinions and not meant to offend. Only you know your family best. Gymnastics is a great sport--but I think it is hard to remain balanced sometimes. The fact that you are already questioning things means you are working hard to maintain balance for your dd and family. Best of luck to you!!!!:)
gymlaw- yes she is currently doing 2 hours per week. Next week her coach wants to try her at 5 hours. 3 hours one day and then her normal 2 hour day. If 3 hours is too much for her then try 2-2 hours days. Then come June she is starting a summer program that would be 3-3 hour days. BUT she did say she would never push her too hard.we are definetly very comfortable and confident with her current coach. And we know that not only will she know if its too much, but we will as well She is still welcome to do this summer program and only come the hours that she can handle and we can afford. Then once school starts in the fall it would be back to the 5 hours. As far as their teams. They can tryout for the Rec Team at age 6 and the USAG team at age 7. Whether we ever even consider the USAG team we definetly want her to start on the Rec team (if she does make it that far) which is still another 8 months away before she can even tryout for it. I know its a given the higher the lvl the more money and time. As far as a 5 year old letting us know if its too much. She is a really great kid about this sort of thing. She started ballet class around the time she started gymnastics. But she didnt like it. And told us flat out. She is constantly asking us for help (which I try not to too much, because I totally believe in that is the coaches job and me not knowing a whole lot about gymnastics would rather leave that to the coach although I will spot her in skills that she is learning but I wont offer advice because it would most likely be wrong) but when she is flippin around the house she tells us flat out , I am tired, I am done. And thats that. I have confidence that not only will I be able to tell, but confidence that she will have no problems saying okay enoughs enough.
She was scheduled to start T-ball next month, but with the increase in hours, she was given the option. She said "I love gymnastics, thats what I want to do. I dont really want to play ball"
She does know that the option to try other things is there and always will be. But we really try to leave it up to the kids on what they want to do. With some guidance from us of course to make the right choice. But its ultimately their decision. Some people may disagree with that, but thats how we have agreed to raise our children.
Anywho, thanks for all the advice... and TeamDad I am looking forward to watching those clips as soon as I get a few. I have to run and do all the mommy things. Fun Fun. Thank you all again

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