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What do You Wish You had Known?

PinPin

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Jan 20, 2017
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I wish I had known before hand that the CGM is the hardest kind of Crazy Mother to keep under control. :rolleyes:

I am an orchestra and music mum - ODD does orchestra, string ensemble, choir and has Practical Music: Vocal as a high school subject and plays the violin, saxophone and piano. I have also been a ballet mum (still am to a lesser degree with YDD our gymmie ) and a cross country and netball mum. Even though I am a qualified level 1 judge I still battle the CGM come competition time with regards to YDD scores...

With regards to the expense I must add that my ODD's music is any day just as expensive when added up. Per hour though gymnastics is cheaper. We are also lucky to be in a gym where the gymnasts' personal well-being is more important than club performance.
 

LTmom

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Feb 7, 2018
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Medals and scores are not an indicator of how their gymnastics is going and not what you are paying for.

Medals and scores are the least of it.
This is very intriguing; could you please elaborate?
 

amiandjim

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This is very intriguing; could you please elaborate?
Well, I didn’t post this but I would assume she means, if you or your kid are in it for the medals and scores, it will be difficult to go the long haul. Your gymnast should be in it for the love of gymnastics, and should always simply focus on progress. You should be in it because your child loves it, it makes her physically and mentally strong, and will teach her many many life lessons. Neither you nor your gymnast will EVER be able to control her scores or medals so if that is the focus, it can become frustrating.
 

3cats

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I wish I had focused on how adorable my daughter was in her sparkly leotard. Spraying her pigtails with sparkles. Playing kids bop in the car singing loudly on the way to a meet to pump her up. I wish I had focused more on her smiles when she got that pull over, or back extension roll. I wish had had told her more how amazing she was. I've only rarely found myself in crazy gym mom territory. It happens to the best of us. But even still, even keeled me was always looking to the next thing. The next skill, the next meet, the year. And now my daughter is 11, and training level 8. And she is thinking this will be her last season. And I wish I could do it all over again. This time more slowly.
 

Tbrov

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I wish I had known how completely gymnastics would affect our lives. Disclosure: 2 level 10s, 13 years in the sport. Done with club now.

Limited social life: They missed sleepovers, birthday parties and playdates due to practice. Later, missed football games and school dances. No hanging out after school. Us parents also missed stuff since we were at meets or driving to/picking up from practice. No spontaneous weekend get-aways. Going to bed early on Friday nights, since there was practice the next day. My best friends ended up being other gym parents. Kid's best friends are other gymnasts.

Constrained schedule: Practice is most days of the week, often including Saturdays. Have to do drop off and pick up on time. Dinners had to be eaten late. Homework, done late. Weekend trips could only been one day outings. Vacations limited to a week or 2 at most during the off season, and none during the competitive season.

Schooling: Middle school home-schooled, then had to negotiate modified schedules with the school district. High school was Independent Studies.

Money: towards the end, we spent over $13,000 per child on gym fees, equipment and gym travel.

Travel: Our vacation budget was spent on going places we would not have chosen for ourselves, such as Las Vegas, Jackson MS, Indianapolis, Frisco TX. (Not that I regret seeing those places, just that they are not my top destinations for the same $$)

Injuries: Soooo many. I know no other 17 year olds in our non-gymnastics social circle that have been to the ER this many times, had this many x-rays, or had major surgeries. I cleaned out dd closet and found 3 elbow braces and 5 ankle boots.

I also wish I would have known how challenging it would be to parent a competitive gymnast, meaning how hard to let them own their sport without overstepping or becoming invested in results. How not to feel competitive myself. How to bite my tongue. How much time I, myself would spend in a gym when I would rather be somewhere else. How hard to see your kid struggle and know you can't fix things for them. How hard to see your kid in physical pain. How it would be to have the coaches basically as second parents to my kids.

Of course there are a million upsides, but they don't fall under "wish I had known" for me. I didn't need to be warned about the good stuff. FYI, I don't regret our life, but for sure I had no idea what we were getting into when they were 6.
 

groovygirl

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Mar 11, 2013
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I wish I had known how this sport is like a cult to some girls, how they cannot give it up ever. I wish I had known how it was going to take over our lives. I would have gone to Hawaii, Tahiti and Europe when she was in the lower levels and look back and laugh that I feel like we couldn't have missed then. I wish I knew how much money it was. I wish I knew the emotional turmoil it would put my child through - good and bad. The highs are so high and the lows are so devastating. I wish I knew how this one sport would control our whole family.

If I had to do it all again I'm not sure if I would. One day we were having fun in L6 and the next thing you know she's a 10 and it's VERY serious ALL the time. Like someone else said, I wish I had a crystal ball to see if she was going to do this in college (her goal now) or not b/c if not I would force her to miss more!!! ;-)

Oh and I wish I had just uploaded EVERYTHING to Facebook (for only me not to bombard my friends) so I had it all. I am unorganized and those videos of her small are god knows where!
 

skygirlpc

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A lot of you seem to be somewhat bitter about your child's time in the sport. is it really THAT bad? A lot of these replies seem to be insinuating that I should run while I still have a chance. I knew I would get the good the bad and the ugly but some of you seem to only have bad things to say. That seems sad to me.
 
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Cheryl

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Feb 28, 2018
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It’s not that it’s all that bad in the beginning, but it creeps up gradually. When your kid is in middle school and high school practicing 20 hours a week , which is probably more hours than a kid that age would be allowed to work at an actual job, plus dealing with more difficult academics, thinking about college, SAT prep, it is a lot of pressure on the kid who has to manage the time to do all this.

It’s also a lot of pressure on the family as far as budgeting, time to travel, missed fun stuff because it’s really an all or nothing sport, you can’t just show up to practice whenever, or do rec league. An injury could end their career in a second, no matter how much they love it.

My kid is in 8th grade and has been doing this since he was 9. I have probably spent on gymnastics so far, what I spent to send my daughter to 4 years of college.

It’s not bitterness or regret, it’s just that it’s like a cute little snowball that quickly can become an avalanche, and if you aren’t prepared for it, it can become a pretty big burden.
 

groovygirl

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It’s also a lot of pressure on the family as far as budgeting, time to travel, missed fun stuff because it’s really an all or nothing sport, you can’t just show up to practice whenever, or do rec league. An injury could end their career in a second, no matter how much they love it.
THIS exactly!!! It starts off cute and fun and next thing you know your kids hours are more than a part time adult job and you can't do what you want b/c like she said, it's all or nothing. Maybe consider Xcel - I think that has more freedom! LOL. Am I bitter? Not really......I am prouder than anything of my daughter, but I do "miss" what our lives could be if not for the money and time restrictions of this sport. We would travel a LOT for sure. I think that is what gets me the most, is the time commitment.
 
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groovygirl

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For the original poster - about the time. The reason why we all harp on it is b/c when your child reaches L9/10 (say age 12-14ish generally) their day will be school (If they don't homeschool for the sport which is increasingly common) followed by 4-5 hours nightly of gymnastics, so 4-8pm or 9pm) There will be no family dinners, maybe one weeknight off. They will come home, eat and do homework and go to bed exhausted. Repeat. Homework will be done in the car too and from as well. Saturdays are taken up generally with an all day practice as well. That leaves Sunday, by Sun these girls need to catch up on sleep and school so there won't be may fun-day-sundays either! Also at this level they aren't allowed and won't want to miss many days so that is where the vacation impact comes in. This also depends on the gym but most don't want them to miss more than 1 week at a time at these levels.

Again - so proud of my daughter! I love watching her! I love that she loves it and all the strength and determination and discipline she has gotten from it. But....there is a downside.
 

Tbrov

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A lot of you seem to be somewhat bitter about your child's time in the sport. is it really THAT bad? A lot of these replies seem to be insinuating that I should run while I still have a chance. I knew I would get the good the bad and the ugly but some of you seem to only have bad things to say. That seems sad to me.
If you are getting the idea that you should run while you still have a chance, that's something to think about. People have posted their honest experiences, many from the opposite end of the journey to you and after many years of gymnastics. Hearing the "negative" things, will you be willing to accept these sacrifices if your kid advances in the sport? I get that you are excited at the beginning of your journey. It's a great place to be. I feel maybe you were actually interested in encouragement, rather than what we "wished we had known".
 
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Gymx2

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Personally, I think there ought to be a New Parent's Handbook given out when a kid starts team, including a bunch of experiences like parents have shared here. Forewarned is forearmed! ;) I'd always rather have more info than less, and I think it's so important to have some idea what to expect if your child is going to continue on this journey.
 

txgymfan

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OP, many or most Level 10 gymnasts are at an international level compared to other countries. I’m guessing you would get similar feedback from parents of national/ international level teens in other sports or the arts. Ballet dancers often move away from home as teens to get the best training in the hope of being a professional. Tennis players travel nationally and internationally for tournaments. Gymnastics seems to have less recreational level options than other sports. You simply can’t do gymnastics on a court in the backyard or on a casual team that practices less than 10 hours a week with only local competition. It’s very much an all or nothing sport for the majority of teens still in the sport. There are exceptions and we have parents on CB who adamantly defend low hour teams but after middle school, that’s the exception not the rule.

Frankly, I’m glad Xcel seems to be growing, but it’s still looked at as a lesser program when it should probably be the most common type of team with JO being the exception. There are many reasons that very few athletes make it to level 10.
 

cp13

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I think one thing to keep in mind is the sport could snowball on you as others describe IF, and it's a big IF, that you have a child who is truly driven and motivated to get to upper level optionals. If you have a kid who just stays happy in the sport through L5 or moves over to Xcel, you can keep some more balance in your life. As others have said though, if you have a child who finds their passion in this, then it's very hard to take it away. My daughter started L2 with about 25 girls. 5 years later and only about 6 of them are still active in the sport and some are J.O and some are Xcel. Many kids move off to other things when the skills get harder and more hours are required, especially around the middle school years.
 

GAgymmom

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A lot of you seem to be somewhat bitter about your child's time in the sport. is it really THAT bad? A lot of these replies seem to be insinuating that I should run while I still have a chance. I knew I would get the good the bad and the ugly but some of you seem to only have bad things to say. That seems sad to me.
I was thinking the same thing, these are so negative.

I wish I had known that injuries would prevent her from making that college team that was her goal. She had offers, it didn’t work out.
But I also wish I had known how much I would love this sport and love my girls being in this sport! How much I would enjoy watching them amd how I’d tear up at awards. How their teammates and team parents would be closer than family, would look out for them when I wasn’t there, would be their best friends. How much FUN it would be in spite of the long hours and sacrifice of time and money. How I wish I had known sooner how great being a judge would be! And how many opportunities the sport would open for my daughter and me beyond club competitions.

And I wish we could go back in time and do it again. I’d enjoy it more and worry less, we would take those vacations though, and I’d remember to marvel at how amazing they are out there. I have one more chance to do all that, and I don’t want to forget these things.
 

LJL07

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This isn’t true, and to be honest this is very negative and gym specific. Maybe in some places, but not the norm.
Unfortunately it is very much the norm where we live. Granted our gym options are limited. Georgia has many more options. Honestly due to where we live and our experiences, there is no way I would do this over again. I just think it’s good to go into this with your eyes wide open. We found a place that treats the girls well, and it’s a commute. Lots of sacrifices made for gymnastics due to the commute and time invested. Also, this is a marathon and not a sprint. It’s easy to get sucked into privates and crazy high hours at the compulsory levels but those kids usually end up burning out.
 

LJL07

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A lot of you seem to be somewhat bitter about your child's time in the sport. is it really THAT bad? A lot of these replies seem to be insinuating that I should run while I still have a chance. I knew I would get the good the bad and the ugly but some of you seem to only have bad things to say. That seems sad to me.
Well congress just found usoc, usag, and the fbi did nothing to protect the athletes in this sport for years. The culture is very harsh and I don’t see any change coming down the pipes even after Nassar. This sport is not for the faint hearted. I am very bitter. My girls don’t want to quit and have poured a lot of time and energy into this. They have at long last found some coaches who care about the girls and treat them well, so until they want to quit, we will get them there.
 

Tbrov

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I think one takeaway here is to enjoy as much as you can watching your kid compete, but be aware gymnastics requires great sacrifice at the higher levels. Therefore, let your child be the guide. If it's their passion and they are dedicated athletes, the sacrifices are easier for the family to make. I'm not talking scores here, I'm talking love for the sport and work ethic. There are many positive outcomes; strong, resilient, successful kids. Awesome videos. But if the athlete gets to a point when they want to leave the sport, don't push them to continue. It wouldn't be worth the sacrifice required.
 

Sk8ermaiden

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I think that everyone else has covered the nitty gritty of making it to upper level optionals. But I think probably the most important thing for the vast majority of parents to know is that their child will probably never make it to upper level optionals. Most kids quit when they repeat level 4 or enter junior high or high school. It is so hard to avoid getting swept up in the next level, the next skill, the race to level 10, but the smartest thing to do is sit back and enjoy watching them do this crazy stuff.

Our wonderful coaches gave a speech at the parent's meeting this year. One is on here so she may see this, but part of it it was something like:
"Please know that most of your children will not stay in gymnastics all the way through high school or level 10. But that doesn't mean that competitive gymnastics is not worthwhile. They will learn hard work and time management and girls who have been gymnasts go on to be great pole vaulters and great divers and cheerleaders and track runners."
 

gymmomtotwo

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Jun 21, 2011
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Like I said earlier, my kids hopes and dreams keep getting dashed by injuries. It is the brutal reality. I never really thought when she was little that she would be one of those kids sidelined by injuries.The lower levels were amazing with 3 State Championship first place medals at Level 4, 1 at Level 6, 2 at Level 7, right up until she turned 11 and ready for Level 8. We did sparkles in the hair, travel with our friends, lots of time on the podium. Team overnights, spirit weeks, fun with the other gym parents. She still goes to the gym everyday. There is a whole team of people trying to help this kid back to competing and she keeps getting knocked back down. It's painful as a parent to watch the struggle, but it's her passion. So, your kid may be one of the lucky ones, or she might not. She will definitely learn perseverance and hard work, and you will have a lot of fun along the way. But it can very abruptly end or be sidelined for long periods of time. It is an important part of the sport I wish I had known. The are plenty of other sports and activities that teach the same thing. I don't mind the time commitment or the money. The kid has an amazing social life with her teammates. Sleepovers, pool parties. I don't feel like she's missing out out that way at all. She just want to compete, and it's been impossible now for almost 2 years.
 

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