Lessons Learned at The Little Gym

I've been working there for a little under a year now. I didn't apply for the job, it just kind of fell in my lap. At first I was hesitant. Who wants to work in a place with screaming toddlers when I have one of my own at home? Not me!

But I, excuse me, WE needed the money. So I trained for months and slowly got used to the sore back and achy shoulders. Now I love it! I love seeing the kids and how much fun they have. The downside is dealing with moms. Now don't get me wrong, I LOVE MOMS! I am one for pete's sake. But there are a lot of moms out there who just don't get it. They seem annoyed or inconvenienced by their role as parent. I guess it gets in the way of chatting up their girlfriends or working out at the gym. Again, I am a mom and I get that it's hard. Trust me, I get it. But I still think when you sign them up for a mommy and me type class, it's probably a good idea to actually participate. To spend time with them, help them up on the balance beam, remind them to tuck their head when doing a forward roll, yada, yada, yada.

I've learned a lot from these moms though - basically what not to do. So I thought I'd share with you these pearls of wisdom.

-There are many different kinds of moms.

-As difficult as you think your child is, there is always someone worse off.

-Don't call your child chubby, chunky, big, or beefy. He may be only 20 months but eventually he's going to understand what you're saying and internalize it.

-Don't join the Little Gym if you simply want to sit and chat with your friends. It's a parent/child class, get involved!

-Don't force your child to do anything, it will only backfire.

-Your little one looks to you to figure out how to feel about things. If you give him a nervous smile and cringe every time he attempts to walk on the balance beam or jump off a springboard he's going to think he can't do it or that he's going to fall. Show no fear! Smile big and clap (and just make sure you stay close in case he does fall). This isn't just true for gymnastics either. If you make a face everytime he goes to eat a spoonful of those stinky ass peas, he's going to get the message loud and clear. Fake it mama!

What have you learned from your job that has helped you be a better mother? If you stay home with your little one, what secrets have you learned from watching other moms?


Crissy said...

Being a role model is a tough job. I am constantly assessing my behavior, am I being positive or negative, and how it will be seen by my son. It's really tough to put your wants and needs aside to model the best behavior to your children, but it's all worth it.

Kudos to those mom (and dads) who do it!

Christina_the_wench said...

Dealing with unorganized, crazy angry faculty screaming obscenities at me or calling me unprofessional or even racist (yes, racist - that's a WHOLE other story I might blog on today, in fact) has taught me patience and how to keep my mouth shut at times when I want to rabidly go off on someone. So my daughters learn Mom doesn't always 'lose it' when she could and that shushing can sometimes be a good thing.

You are my idol. Dealing with the kids would be great! The mothers on the other hand....

SugarMama said...

The Mommy and Toddler class I go to are with bunch of Nanny and Toddlers! Really, sometimes I'm the only parent there.

Anyway - I learned early on from my childhood friend's Mom that scolding your child in front of her friends doesn't accomplish anything other than embarassing yourself and your own child.

Juliabohemian said...

we made yummy faces when we fed them the veggies. they weren't fooled.

I would love to see a picture of the "beefy" toddler that you saw.

MrsFortune said...

Wow. What have I learned about motherhood from being a junior high school teacher? The #1 lesson: the apple does not fall far from the tree. Every truly obnoxious child I have dealt with has had obnoxiouser (no it's not a word, but who cares?) parents. Kids do what you do, not what you say.

Pattie said...

Love your list. Name calling and labeling are always a no-no in my book. Like you, I also don't believe in forcing a kid to do something...encouraging? Yes, of course. Forcing only seems like a sign of control. And it will come back and bite you in the a$$!

sunshine scribe said...

Great list of lessons!

I agree about name calling. Bruises heal but the scars that emotional berating can cause often stay around and mutate loooooong after

Mommy off the Record said...

Very good advice! Especially about showing no fear. I will remember that.

BTW, I can't believe someone would call their kid beefy. Jeez.

Mama of 2 said...

Well for 8 years I have worked at a private country club as an admin assit. What have I learned about being a mother there....

I have learned that no amount of money in the world will make up for the time you don't spend with your kids.

Just because you can procreate doesn't necessarily make you a mom.

If you can't tell where I work is full of people with more disposable income than the salary I make from said job. I have witnessed more toddlers left to their own devices than I should have. I have heard more than a few nannies saying 'no honey, I'm not mommy' Sad isn't it?

So all this had taught me to be involved with my children, love them with all my heart even on the days that I don't like them very much. And lastly be thankful everyday for all God has given me.

Karla said...

That is a really awesome. Over the past few years of having my son in school I've learned a lot of things from other parents. Before matching up parent to child, I can usually pick them out.

The parent on her cell phone checking her watch every 4 seconds is usually the parent of the kid throwing crackers at the teacher.

The parent with mismatched socks, a ponytail in her hair and cereal dripped down her shirt from four days ago usually has the kid with the beautiful dress and her hair neatly combed.

Again, great list. Very observant and truthful.

Christina said...

Great list! I used to work in a daycare, and I could tell all sorts of tales of children there.

My favorite is: if a threat of no chocolate milk and TV doesn't stop a kid from biting and being a general terror every day at daycare, then try a new technique instead of using it every single day.

rhonda said...

From watching other moms I have learned to just chill a little. I usually get so uptight about EVERYTHING...but watching other moms gives me inspiration.

Not ALL other moms, of course. Some moms are just crazy...but the normal ones...good stuff to learn from!

Zephra said...

I have learned from watching other Moms that you don't need to buy them everything they want. I also learned that lots of parents apparently don't pay attention to how their girls dress because I can't believe they would let them out of the house if they did.

Oh yea, I learned my kids are not as bad as I think they are sometimes. They must not be because I am always being told how well behaved they are. I always say "Thank you, I pre-threatened them".

chelle said...

Secrets I have learned...hmm..

Never litter in front of your kids, pick flowers, yell, swear and NEVER ignore them!

Anonymous said...

I have a friend who's totally into herself, and her kids are just for show. She's even eaten the rest of their food because she was still hungry! Some parents are just too selfish to worry about if their kids are having fun or not. It's sad really.

icancarryallthebagsandthebabiestoo said...


There are times when I fight myself and bite the tongue of my inner critic thinking, 'Anna, don't judge, don't judge...' but I can't help it.

Why is parenting so difficult for so many people? Are they so thoughtless and selfish that they just don't think about the impact of their words on these teeny little people?

Yesterday I was at the park with my children. I saw a woman with her two sons. We chit chatted momentarily when the youngest pulled my toddler off a small ladder while she was climbing. "Oh my, he's so cute. How old is he?" She told me that he was three and she told him to be "careful around girls."

After this, I sort of steered my daughter away from her children.

Here's what caught my attention. This little boy's older brother was encouraging him to climb up to the very high slides. They're probably about eight feet high. The boy was clearly petrified but tried to do it. He couldn't work up his courage and began to cry. His mother scorned him and as he stood frozen at the top of the slide she called him a "chicken."

Later, he was swinging and fell off the swing and began to cry again. His mother, sitting her large ass on a bench seemed completely put off by this inconvienience and made some sort of sideways comment about toughing it out... but "no, she'd be sure to run right over."

What a jerk.

On the same note, I have been in the Dr's office before and watched parents humilate their son's loudly for picking up a "girl's toy or book" and looking at it. That's just as damaging in my opinion.

Nicole said...

I used to take my daughter to the little gym. It would drive me crazy to watch some of the kids run wild while the moms chatted it up on the side. I always thought it must make the kids feel unimportant. I feel the same way when I see a mom or dad talking on the cell phone while their kid eats alone at Wendys. Show some interest in the kid!!

Liesl said...

I've seen this kind of stuff tima and time again. There are two moms in my son's music class who are so buddy-buddy they disrupt the class with their conversations. And they are neighbors. Can't they talk at home??

I think the thing I learned in teaching is that different kids learn the same thing different ways. So if I explain it one way and it doesn't click, then try a different way. Or draw a picture. Or make up a rhyme. And just keep trying different things. It's a very helpful thing to keep in mind whether one is teaching a toddler how to put a coat on or teaching chemistry to college kids. lol

bitemycookie said...

my job is being a mother and i am making all of the mistakes in the book -- but the one rule i have learned best is: do not invite children whose parents don't set boundaries or offer discipline into your home because they will trash it in 12 seconds -- go to a little gym or some such place instead : )

Nancy said...

I can't decide if I learned this at work or with parenting, but it works both places -- you get tremendous effects if you count to 10, smile and nod as much as possible, even when pissed off. It doesn't help to scream and yell over stupid stuff, and people (coworkers, kids) are more respectful if you don't lose your cool all the time.

Great post -- not everyone can turn their work experiences into lifelong learning. (too bad, or the world would be a better place!)

Soulful_SensitiveStreak said...

Guilty! Yup, I'm guilty of sometimes expecting too much from my 3 year old son. You're right, it does backfire most of the time. I realized that I should really give my son time and space to learn on his own.

My son also goes to The Little Gym. He recently turned three so he just transferred to the Funny Bugs Class (from SuperBeast). This time he's on his own inside the gym because it's not a parent-child class anymore. At first, I was worried about his first day being by himself inside the gym but everything went out splendidly. Watching from outside, it was wonderful seeing him interact with the other kids and doing the activities all by himself. I'm grateful that my son is now learning the importance of independence. It will definitely help build his character as he grows older.