One day many years ago Chloe and her Mom, equally nervous, entered the pool at the swim school. As they waded in to join the larger group, Mom’s thoughts were spiraling with numerous worries, “Am I holding her properly? Do the other parents notice me fumbling around? What if Chloe doesn’t like the water? Ugh, I hate a scene… will I get my money back if she hates to swim? I can’t believe it took months to get into this class and now that we’re here I’m already regretting it!”
Every day since Chloe was born had been a struggle for Mom. Chloe was then a five-months old little girl with big serious eyes that noticed everything around her. She easily started crying and it was often difficult for her Mom to soothe and comfort her again. Mom worried a lot and she tried so hard. She did everything she could think of, bought all the “right” things, read all the good books on parenting, followed blogs and listened to good advice. Little did it help. The worry and many cries was wearing on the whole family. Next in line of activities for Chloe to try was baby swimming.
Soon after entering the water Chloe started crying. At that point, it was all becoming a little too much for Mom. She was thinking, “How did I end up with a child that cries all the time? This happens at home and now in the water too!” She was on the verge of giving up and crying herself.
The teacher saw her, the rest of the group saw her too and they all felt how difficult it was for Mom and Chloe. Chloe’s Mom wanted, as most parents do, her baby to be happy and content.
In order for her to do that Mom needed to relax. Mom needed reassuring words, understanding and empathy. She needed to know that she was welcome, that she was a good parent and that her daughter was a wonderful little girl that at this point was trying to tell her Mom that her mothers worry worried her.
For Mom to relax she needed to know that she would get help and support when needed and that neither her or Chloe would be pushed into doing anything they were not ready for. They were not there to perform. They were there to enjoy, to learn and to grow together. The teacher looked her deep into her eyes and told her that. Chloe’s Mom wanted to believe it all. She relaxed, a little. She needed time and to also experience it before she would be able to relax more.
Mom and Chloe came to every lesson. Focus was on Mom and for her to become more aware of her own emotions and to better regulate them. In the safe, warm and caring environment Mom relaxed more and was able to let go of her worries, and so did her little girl. Chloe became less tense and stopped crying.
Because Chloe’s Mom worried less she could better separate her own emotions which allowed her to better meet, help, soothe and regulate her daughters emotions. Because of that Mom and daughter began to understand and enjoy each other more, having fun on the journey of learning together, while in the water.
Until finally there were more giggles than cries. The positive change this “dynamic duo” created in the water was even something they brought home to their daily life, which greatly impressed Dad, too. The house felt happier and calmer for everyone - and Chloe thrived all around.
This is a great example of how swimming together was the catalyst for parents to grow self-awareness and how that strengthens the parent-child relationship, and lead to overall happiness.
This and many more stories, some which I share in the book, Happy Babies Swim, led to the idea of writing a book to parents and caregivers. To better prepare and empower you with valuable knowledge before and during your swim journey together with your baby. When I published my first book in Denmark, and parents got to read it before they started swimming the difference was so obvious. Parents started more relaxed and it propelled them and their little ones right into enjoying, exploring and learning together. It was of great benefit for the families and it was a tremendous support for the teachers too. With more joint understanding we elevated the activity to new heights and relationships blossomed. And when relationships blossom learning excels!