Dear parents: You need to put your phone down and watch your child’s swimming lesson.

 

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Teachers bring it up in meetings, coordinators brainstorm ideas on changing the culture at the pool, and, yes, kids get upset.

This week one of our teachers came out of his shift and told us that he almost cried during a lesson, because a little boy in his class swam the length of the pool, looked up at his Dad for praise, and said:

‘Why won’t Daddy watch me? He’s always playing on his phone.’

His Dad was so engrossed in his phone that he didn’t hear his son call out to him. This particular boy had put in so much effort. He had listened well to the teacher, he had tried his hardest, and he just wanted his Dad to be proud of him.

Sadly, we see it all day every day.

I teach classes and see parents/grandparents/caregivers/whoever completely missing out on the effort that their children are putting in to this lesson, the comedy they bring to the classes with their imaginative ideas, the competitive streak that suddenly appears when a child realises they can do something and do it well.

You could walk into any learn-to-swim environment, and I bet you will see a row of parents sitting on their phones.

As an instructor I can tell you that overall, lessons are great fun, and we get so much out of them. We get to see children change, develop, grow. We get to hear about their days, we get to help them through what can sometimes be a frightening experience, and we see progression.

That progression can be huge; it can be a child finally trusting themselves (and us) enough to let go. It can be a child mastering bilateral breathing. It can be a child perfecting a streamline kick. It can be a child putting their eyes in the water, it can even be minuscule (in appearance), e.g. tucking a chin in further towards their chest; but that could have taken weeks, if not months to happen.

How are you going to see those accomplishments if you are on your phone or ipad, or reading a paper?

How are you going to know that your child IS benefiting from the lessons if you are not watching? Do you see how much they have to take in and do all at once?

Honestly, I get sad as a teacher. I am a little disappointed when ‘Michael’, after months of encouragement and gentle guidance, finally trusts me enough to push off from the edge and paddle out to me, only to see that his caregiver hasn’t noticed. They are not even looking our way.

That’s me, feeling sad, as an adult.

Imagine how ‘Michael’ feels.

I do get it, I know that sometimes it is unavoidable. I know that work can reach us any and everywhere, and while your child is in a safe environment, being watched by another adult, it is convenient to get those final emails done. It’s finally ok to book that appointment online, without your small person trying to talk to you or show you something.

It’s just that, they usually are trying to show you something.

I work for an ever-expanding company, and at the co-ordinators meeting this week, an item on the agenda was: HOW do we get parents to put their phones down?

We discussed banning them (not very realistic)

We discussed posters (will you see them?)

We discussed talking to parents and gently encouraging them to watch

We discussed creating an app where you can watch your children swim (in real-time)

We even discussed offering free wifi and changing the password to “please get off your phone and watch me swim”.

Then the following day, our amazing teacher told us about the boy in his class, whose Dad didn’t realise his son was calling out for him.

‘why won’t Daddy watch me? He’s always playing on his phone.’

Please just try it. You will be amazed how much you get out of it, and I’ll bet you your child will work their absolute hardest.

©notsogreatcatsby2018

Big thanks to K N for the pic.

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5 Benefits of Swimming Through Winter

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5) It boosts your immune system

As we all know; coughs and colds are common throughout winter, but research shows that regular exercise (such as swimming) strengthens our immune systems. This helps us become better equipped to fight any nasty bugs we may be exposed to.

Swimming itself is well-known to aid in maintaining good cardiovascular fitness – just what you and your family needs during winter!

4) Maintaining / developing skills

If your children attend 1x 30 minute swimming lesson per week, their maximum lesson time is only 26 hours per year. This total then decreases with every sick day or holiday. Children (and their bodies) need repetition in order to learn and develop, and by taking a break over winter, the risk of skill regression largely increases.

Staying consistent is the best way to ensure you get maximum value for the time and money you invest in swimming lessons.

3) Quieter classes = more attention!

Unfortunately, it is inevitable that some families will pause their swimming lessons over winter, but that comes with benefits for those who choose to remain!

You are far more likely to get your child into the lesson of your choice during winter. This in turn means that when summer rolls around, you will already be booked into your preferred day and time.

There is also a good chance that your child’s class size will be smaller during this time, and your child will receive more one on one time with their teacher.

2) Your child will be stronger for summer

As mentioned above, children learn through repetition. By maintaining your regular swimming lessons throughout winter, your child will be stronger in time for summer. This is so, so important for all of those days at the beach, playdates at the pool, and for your family’s safety while on holiday.

This brings us to…

1) Safety!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: swimming lessons provide a vital lifesaving skill. Children can drown at any time of year. Regular swimming lessons are a vitally important step towards keeping your children safe around water. During swimming lessons; along with technique; children learn about safe entries, safe exits, reaching the side if they are to accidentally fall in, and who to go to for help in case of an emergency.

Keeping this information fresh in their minds will hopefully keep them aware around water all year round.

 

Top tips from the team:

•Pack a hot water bottle in your bag!
This will make your towels nice and warm for when your child finishes their lesson

•Bring a beanie!
Body heat escapes quickly through your head, so put on those beanies after class!

•Dry off and wrap up
Spend the extra three minutes on poolside to dry off and wrap your child up before leaving or going out into the cold.

And my personal favourite:

•Hot chocolate 😊
If, like us, you are lucky enough to have a cafe at your pool, why not treat yourselves to a hot chocolate or tea for the journey home.

©notsogreatcatsby2018

THE ‘C’ WORD

THE ‘C’ WORD.

(Customers)

ENTITLEMENT.

One single word with multiple mental connotations. Perhaps for you this word brings to mind an opinion (or five) of a specific generation. Perhaps other stereotypical views are summoned; such as opinions on genders, races, cultures. Perhaps you adamantly believe in the existence of entitled behaviour in those around you…

But do you see it in yourself?

We live in an age of abundance. Years ago, with limited establishments, consumers had limited options. If you particularly wanted something, you ordered it, paid for, and received it. Your purchase was a treat, and delivered to you as advertised.

In recent years, this routine has changed, drastically. Customers are increasingly demanding, sometimes requesting extensive menu changes, and sometimes going off-menu completely. If the staff do not bend over backwards to comply: customers leave a bad review on Trip Advisor, or the company’s social media.

Sometimes the staff actually do provide the customer with exactly what they ordered, but the customer will still complain, out of some misguided hope that they will receive money off, because they do not understand what they actually ordered, or perhaps because they just like to complain.

‘BUT THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT!’ I HEAR YOU CRY.

Except, they aren’t. They really, really aren’t.

CUSTOMERS HAVE RIGHTS, AND THEREIN LIES THE DIFFERENCE.

‘What are consumer guarantees?

When a consumer buys goods or services, the ACL provides that they have guaranteed rights including that:

• the supplier has the right to sell the goods; • the goods are of acceptable quality; • the goods match their description; • the goods are fit for any purpose that the consumer makes known to the supplier; • repairs and spare parts for the goods are reasonably available; • the services are carried out with reasonable care and skill; and • the services are completed within a reasonable time where there is no agreed date.’

SOURCE: HTTP://CONSUMERLAW.GOV.AU/FILES/2015/06/ACL_FRAMEWORK_OVERVIEW.PDF

As seen above, this does not mean that customers may dictate the business hours of an organisation to the organisation.

This does not mean that customers have the right to imagine utterly nonsensical adaptations are feasible, and threaten legal action if they are not made possible.

This does not mean that staff may be spoken to or treated in a demeaning manner, they may not be abused or assaulted; they may not be disrespected.

This does not mean that one customer may be put out and disadvantaged for the sake of another.

This does not mean that laws may be broken, in order to satisfy the all-holy consumer.

If this is all sounding extreme, I would like to direct your attention to just a few anecdotes I have had the privilege of compiling in recent months. These are taken from what can best be described as a ‘support group’ for those in the hospitality industry:

customer article 4customer article 3customer article 1

customer article 21customer article 19

Did we somehow, as a society, wrongly decide that ‘servers’ are in-fact ‘servants’? Did we somehow forget to adapt with society as a whole, and therefore forget to acknowledge that working in the service industry does not mean ‘taking the easy way out’? Did we progress in such a way as to make food preparation a commodity available to the majority, but not acknowledge that those catering to those needs are doing so as a chosen profession?

Many (if not most) of the people serving you in cafes, restaurants, cocktail bars etc. are highly trained in their profession. Many also have degrees and qualifications outside of the hospitality industry, but enjoy their roles within it, and remain in them for this reason.

We are no longer in an age where having food prepared for you is a sign of vast wealth and power, so why do some people maintain the mentality that those doing so should be grateful for the opportunity; and suffer mistreatment and poor manners as a consequence?

Perhaps you are not of the entitled mentality; but I am willing to bet you know someone that is. Perhaps you could show them this article, and encourage them to review their behaviour.

Perhaps we, as a society, could take a step in the right direction, and remember our manners with the barista and the wait staff; just as we do when we interact with other paid professionals.

Perhaps we could all make a more conscious effort to be grateful. Grateful for being in such a privileged position that we can pay for something and have it provided to us.

Perhaps we could take some responsibility if what we have our hearts set on is not on the menu.

If we continue to demand the unrealistic, if we continue to demand services for free, if we continue to underpay and under value the hospitality industry as a whole: it will not survive.

‘YOU CANNOT DEMAND A SERVICE WHILE SIMULTANEOUSLY DEGRADING THOSE WHO PROVIDE IT FOR YOU’.

-thempress

©CatOwens2017

Sorry for the silence

20170403_115437_002.jpgWell, hello strangers!

The past few months have been hectic in my household. The big kid turned 3, we moved house, the baby started daycare for one day (read: morning) a week, and Ryan’s business is crazy busy.

Ryan works Mon-Sat and I work on the Sunday. Add a toddler and a baby into the mix, and we were left with a tiny tiny window for house viewings, packing, moving and unpacking.

For some reason, renting a house on the Sunshine Coast is a very last-minute procedure, which makes something already incredibly stressful that much worse.

In general, if we apply any more than two weeks in advance, we are told the house is ready to go and they really need someone in ASAP. That means you have to search, view and apply for houses with just enough time to be approved and get your life together before your lease expires.

Fun fun fun.

I am still 4 assignments away from finishing my cert IV in writing and editing, as, without fail, each week something will pop up that needs my attention a tiny bit more than the course. I actually set myself a personal deadline of January.. then end of Jan. Then definitely by the end of March.

Then it was now; May 11th.. and I am aiming for ‘before my course expires’.

On a more positive note, the blog I wrote: ‘ten things your child’s swimming instructor wants you to know’ was shared by Austswim and subsequently picked up a lot of site traffic. Like, a silly lot. That gave me a bit of a reality check about what I could and should be accomplishing; along with a healthy dose of fear.

Will I ever actually be able to match those numbers with another post? Did I just have my one hit wonder and totally forget to cash in on it? Was that all just random luck?

I am positive about it, regardless of those thoughts, though. Having so many beautiful responses and knowing that I struck a chord with other swimming instructors around the world gave me a wonderful sense of belonging that I will never forget.

So! Any and all positive thoughts are welcome (especially as the baby seems to have gastro, and the washing machine has finally called it a day). Hopefully tomorrow will be THE day I get my student brain back in.. or my thinking cap back on, or my creative juices flowing again.

Thanks for bearing with me. I’ve attached a photo of the baby as a shameless incentive to bring you back again 🙊.

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Ten things your child’s swimming instructor wants you to know

Knowing how to swim competently could save your child’s life. For this reason, swimming lessons are not only beneficial for physical strength and development, but should also be seen as providing a vital lifesaving skill that everybody should possess.

Swimming instructors take their time to get to know your child’s strengths and weaknesses, and try their hardest to bring out the best in their students; but in order to help them do so, here are ten things swimming instructors would like you to remember:

1) Children learn at their own pace

Some kids will swim like dolphins from the get-go, but others will take longer. They may need to build up a relationship with their instructor before they can physically progress, they may need to get to know the pool and their classmates, or their little bodies may take time to develop the strength needed to propell them forwards.

It’s all progress, it’s all development; it’s all important. Try not to compare your child to others, they are trying their best!

2) We all learn differently

Similar to learning at their own pace, children also learn in their own ways. Some respond well to gentle teaching methods, some excel under stricter guidance.

While we try our very best to teach in the best way for your child, sometimes they will be suited to a different instructor. You are more than welcome to talk to us, or to the coordinators about what (or who) will best suit your child.

3) Let them play!

Outside of lessons, the very best thing you can do for your child’s progression is to enjoy water together! Don’t worry about their technique, teach them that swimming can be fun and they will WANT to improve. Do reinforce the usual rules, though, such as staying out of the water until you are already in.

4) Your children really want you to be proud of them

Sometimes it can be frustrating to see your child’s progress plateau, or to see others catch on quicker, but as mentioned above: there can be so many developmental reasons behind this. They do want to do well, they do love your praise, and they do check to see that you are watching.

Sometimes we will see an improvement in their technique or their body positioning, and we will try to make a big deal out of it. It may be miniscule; but it may also signal a complete change in their ability.

5) We all have bad days

Sometimes your child will be tired, uncooperative, grumpy; human. We understand. Give us a heads-up if you can, and remember that we all have bad days. Generally speaking, the best way to handle this is to persist with the lesson. If your child climbs out early, they may expect the same result in future; when they aren’t having a bad day and they just want to do something different.

They may not accomplish the most on that bad day, but seeing the lesson through will set a precedent for the future.

6) Being on time is important

While this one is easier said than done, and we know lateness is sometimes unavoidable, arriving with enough time to get your child used to their surroundings before they are plonked in the water really does make the world of difference.

Children have no real concept of time, but they are incredibly in tune with their parents. If you are rushed and anxious, the chances are that anxiety will come with them into the pool.

If you do happen to be late, we understand; a deep breath may ease that transition into the lesson.

7) It’s best to stay committed

Physical activity and group sports are fantastic for your children; but swimming is also a vital survival skill. Maintaining your commitment to lessons is the best way to develop your child’s strength and capability in and around water.

8) Children pay more attention than we realise

This one is especially relevant for make-up classes. Routine is important to children, but sometimes life gets in the way of that. If your child has a lesson with a new teacher, try to be excited for them! Explain it in a way that will make them feel good about this change, and the chances are they will love it. If they don’t, remember it’s just one lesson, and the same rule applies about sticking it out until the end.

9) You can talk to us!

While we know the job; you know the child. Feel free to talk to us or one of the coordinators about any past experiences/injuries/illnessess/bad days that you may think are relevant.

That being said; we do deal with A LOT of children, so your faith and trust in us and our methods goes a long way.

10) We really do love your kids

Even when they are challenging. In fact, sometimes those challenges make the rewards that bit sweeter. Your children are strong, clever, funny, and the reason we are in this profession.

We genuinely enjoy our time with them; working out their personalities and watching them grow. We are so proud when a child masters a new skill or overcomes a fear; so thank you for trusting us to do so!

©CatOwens2017

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©notsogreatcatsby.wordpress.com

©CatOwens2017

Getting back into it

Ah, January.

The break over Christmas and new year was pretty good.. heaps of family time, heaps of beach days and heaps of junk food.

Towards the end I started dreading Ryan’s first week back at work, because life is so much easier when you have a ratio of 1 child : 1 adult, but I had agreed to cover swimming lessons for two mornings that week, along with beginning my new Sunday shift, so I was also aware that I’d be getting a break from motherhood every other day.

Yes, that’s actually how mums feel sometimes: going to work can be a lot more relaxing than staying at home, even if, like mine, your work involves teaching 4-6 babies/toddlers/children per 1/2 hour.

With regards to teaching swimming:
1) it’s fun, and
2) other people’s kids are more likely to actually listen to you. If they don’t.. you hand them back after 30 mins anyway and carry on with your life.

As the week approached, though, mum-guilt started fully kicking in and I started panicking about Nate escaping or behaving badly at the creche at my work, or about Beau being confused/frightened/sad and feeling like I’d abandoned him. (I should probably mention here that each shift is around 4hrs long, and I’m aware that I’m completely neurotic.)

Anyway, I had a baby play date with a friend (read: coffee) and basically offloaded all of my confusing thoughts about actually wanting a break, but feeling guilty, and wanting to stay at home but feeling guilty, then wanting to work but feeling guilty, blah blah you get it.

The chat helped me massively, as did the link she sent me afterwards (http://hurrahforgin.com/2016/07/07/the-shitty-guilt-fairy/ ) and the mention of the gym membership she just got, with creche included.

It’s like the clouds parted, a choir of angels began singing, and an impossibly bright light shone down on me.

Gyms have creche facilities. Duhh.

I can have an hour for myself every day, the kids can get out of the house (and into air-con), have a play, and I don’t have to go back to work just to afford the daycare fees.

Again: duhh.

So I signed up and began on Saturday. I’m completely stiff, and have the core strength of slightly undercooked scrambled eggs, but it’s so good.

The boys survived day 1 of creche at my work. I even managed to get a class covered midway through my shift so I could sneak out to feed my suddenly-and-not-so-conveniently bottle-refusing baby, and some more of the mum-guilt disappeared. Thank god I work for and with such understanding people.

The next task is to actually get back into studying 😂. I can’t blame Christmas madness or any of that any longer, so the first logical step for me is by writing here.

Buhhhh.

I hope you all had some time with your families, and getting back into it all isn’t too brutal.

Also, is it completely of the question to put the kids into the gym-creche, and then just lie on an exercise mat/take a shower alone? Or is it just mildly frowned upon?!20161231_105538.jpg