Raising Young Athletes // The Lessons Kids Learn From A Parent Who Competes


The Lessons Kids Learn From A Parent Who Competes – Here’s a primer on creating a win-win environment for your kids and your sport.

By WNBF Figure Pro Penny Seabolt

They say being a mother is the toughest job there is…I would have to agree. Your time is never your own; you become selfless. Add a sport or hobby in the daily lives of parenting and you've got chaos! I've been competing in figure competitions for four years now and love every minute of it, and when I say “The Impossible is Possible” I mean it. There is no impossible when it comes to motherhood or my sport. There are no days off when your child needs you or you have two cardios, weight training and five or so meals of clean, healthy food to shop for, prepare and eat.                                                                           

I always get asked, how I do it? It’s a balancing act having a career, finding time to exercise, eating healthy and taking care of a family. First and foremost, you make the time for yourself and you get enough sleep. I've learned to go to bed when the kids go to bed, and if that means at 8:30 or 9 pm, I do it. Getting 8 hours or more of quality rest is crucial to your well-being. Get up before the kids get up for school and get your cardio done. There you go, even before the day starts you have it done. After my cardio in the morning, I eat, get the kids ready for school, go to work and then go back to the gym for weight training.  I always pick a day during the week to plan and prep out my meals for the entire week, so I am able to stay on track with my nutrition instead of choosing something unhealthy because I am just too busy.

This all becomes habit, just a part of your day and your life, when you've gotten into a routine. Of all the things in life we worry about, health is the most important. If you don't have your health, you have nothing. I've taught my children the value of eating healthy and exercise. I've introduced all kinds of foods over their 12 years of life (I have twins) and if they didn't like it, I found another way to prepare it and introduce it again. One of the greatest sources of information is at your fingertips at any time, the Internet. Use it to look up recipes, different foods, their benefits, why they are good for you….Share this with your children. I often sit at the dinner table and say, “Asparagus is not one of my favorite foods, but I eat it because…Your kids will eat it too, not because they love it, but because it's good for them. When you hear about some of the ingredients in fast food these days, or America’s fascination with a high carb, high sugar diet and obesity, eating healthy becomes a prerequisite for a long, healthy life. And it would be impossible to compete on stage as a figure pro without healthy, interesting meals. They see me win and they see what I eat and it gives them a healthy perspective of food and how important it is.

Your children look up to you, you are their role models. And what's better than setting tough goals and achieving them? Even though you may not think about it, your children are watching everything that you do, listening to your every word. They see your dedication. Setting goals, even small ones, teaches your children a very important lesson in life. It shows them that nothing is impossible; you can do anything you set your mind to, all you have to do is do it. My kids see that planning, hard work and execution pay off.

Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Learning to do both with grace is important. Show your children that giving up is not an option. Show them that it takes a lot of hard work to achieve good things in life. Show them the meaning of dedication to yourself, to your family. Teach them they can be anything they want in life, do anything they want in life as long as you keep trying. Teach them never to lose hope. Show them what having a bad day is, and it's okay to have them. Your daily struggles are theirs too. And through it all, never forget to thank them for their support, their unconditional love and the way they stand by you. All of our lives are hectic and we’d be nothing without the support of our families.

Penny Seabolt, a pro-level figure competitor, is a regular columnist for TheUrbanAthletica.com. In addition to being a wife and mom to twins (a boy and girl) who are 12 years old, she trains clients at Retro Fitness in addition to teaching fitness classes there and at Fit Gym in the Baltimore area. You can reach Penny on facebook http://www.facebook.com/ppatinella or email her at pseabolt1@verizon.net.