Keeping with the fitness theme this week, I’m tackling toddler recreation options in this blog post. Even before I had my daughter (the Munchkin), I wanted to be the family that was physically active together. Recognizing that I have a toddler and not a teen, I still strive to keep active as a family. We might not be rollerblading the roads now, but we still manage to have fun and stay active as a family.
My 3 Tips forToddler Recreation:
- Participate in community sports.
- Try out lots of different activities.
- Don’t gender stereotype sports.
Baby & Toddler Swimming
The Munchkin made her first trip to the pool at 6 weeks old and we were keen to enroll her for her first swim lesson at 6 months old. She has continued to progress through swim lessons, even repeating levels in order to not go half a year between lessons. Next month she starts a new swim level, which is 3 toddlers and 1 instructor – no parent participation!
Toddler Recreation Programs: Active Start
Our municipality offers “Active Start” sporting classes for toddlers as young as 18 months, with a requirement for parent participation. The classes are cheap, no more than $6 to $8 per class and classes range from 4 weeks to 8 weeks in duration. I enjoy our Saturday morning sports classes and our post sports coffee and donut stops. The Munchkin’s grandparents come out to her sports classes and each week they say they can see changes and improvements in her development (not just in sports, but language and growth as well). I like to put my running shoes on and go play with my Munchkin and I wish I had time to do that every day.
When the Munchkin was almost 18 months we put her in soccer, which was hilarious. I was surprised at how much flak I got from people about putting my 2 year old in sports. People told me it was ridiculous, a waste of money, and that it was just too soon. One person said I should take my kid to the park and bring a ball for her to kick without the need for a class.
Perhaps they didn’t realize that I wasn’t putting the Munchkin in sports so that she’d be the next Christine Sinclair, although I did post that exact comment on my Instagram. I wanted the Munchkin to have fun interacting with a new person of authority (i.e., the coach), play with other kids, and kick a ball around outside. There are no teams, they don’t even scrimmage so there’s nobody keeping score of anything – trust me, we’re not THOSE parents!
After soccer we tried gymnastics. The great part of gymnastics was the Munchkin learned new skills, like jumping and rolling. We also enjoyed meeting the other families and getting to play in a big indoor space during our terribly cold winter.
We recently wrapped up “multi-sport”, which was an outdoor class that involved kicking balls, throwing balls, and running. Tom Brady better watch himself because the Munchkin was getting pretty good at throwing a football. And by “pretty good” I mean, there was absolutely no spiral and she’d often drop the football backwards mid-throw.
Our daycare is teaching the Munchkin some yoga or as the Munchkin calls it, “stretching”. Daily, the Munchkin stops what she is doing and announces that she’s stretching. She then proceeds to go into down dog pose where she flows into three legged down dog. I’ve taught her down dog to plank and then baby cobra and up-dog. She cracks me up with her daily yoga routine and she even assists me as I do my head-stands.
The Munchkin is sporty, but she’s also a thief! Whenever our neighbours garage is open, the Munchkin finds her way into the neighbours garage to their son’s old plastic golf clubs. She takes them out and plays with them. She seems to have learned that a golf club is different from a baseball bat since she swings the club at balls on the ground. While the other kids ride their bikes, she’s happy to stay back and work on her golf swing.
After working 60 hour work weeks for a few weeks this fall I had some mom guilt. I tried to buy my way out of it with a pair of ice skates for the Munchkin. We took her to the rink and she enjoyed walking in the skates, but was really uncertain when she got on the ice. I think there’s a reason there weren’t any toddler skating classes until they are over two!
Don’t Gender Stereotype Sports
The Munchkin was the only girl of 12 in her soccer class. In gymnastics, the girls outnumbered the boys 4:1. In multi-sport there was 1 other girl that attended half the classes and the rest of the class was boys. While I recognize enrollment is low for these toddler sports, I’m still annoyed at these gender stereotypes of sports.
There aren’t girl sports and boy sports and I’d have assumed parents of my generation would know that. I read all the course descriptions and was surprised at some of the activities. For instance, rhythmic gymnastics focused coordination and agility while working with balls and hoops – perfect for a future football player and not restricted for the girliest of girlie-girls.