Even those people who love swimming must agree that there is one thing that tends to be a bit of a chore…the getting changed after! Often changing rooms can be busy, wet, cramped, too hot etc.. Combine these less than ideal conditions with trying to get changed and it can certainly be a challenge. You’re still that little bit damp and are trying your best to maintain some level of dignity and cue the hopping around attempting to pull up your skinny jeans – it can all be a bit of a nightmare!
With this in mind I was feeling somewhat apprehensive about my first time taking my 7 month old swimming. Due to Covid-19 being out and about has been limited anyway and here I was determined to take him to his first lesson as it was the closest thing to a baby group I’m likely to see on my maternity, and he does love the bath!
I had a number of fears going through my head in the lead up his first lesson. What if I drop him in the pool? What if he hates it and screams the whole time? What if his swim nappy fails and I’m the cause of the pool being shut? How on earth am I going to manage to stop him rolling all over the changing room floor and hurting himself or getting in the way? Despite these anxious thoughts part of me was actually really excited to be doing something vaguely ‘normal’ but I had to figure out how to stop worrying and enjoy the experience. So here’s what I did…
I began my morning by selecting a couple of specific positive affirmations that I thought would help me. I chose “I am extremely capable” and “I am excellent at staying calm under pressure“.
Upon arrival I repeated my affirmations, took a couple of deep breaths and began the usual faff with getting my son out of his car seat.
The thoughts I was having that were making me nervous were all based on ‘future thinking’ i.e. concerns about what might happen. Therefore upon entering the facilities I utilised a couple of simple grounding techniques to keep me in the present moment. Firstly I paid attention to my senses. As soon as I walked in I could smell the chlorine and I felt the heat of the building. I kept my focus on what else I could feel, I was required to remove my outdoor shoes immediately as part of the Covid procedures so straightaway I could feel the texture of the floor on my feet as I followed the instructions to head through to the changing area.
In the changing area there were separate cubicles, each with a full sized baby changing mat. This was fantastic as I had my own changing space and could keep my son in one place a lot easier. We had arrived ‘swim ready’ so it only took a moment and we were ready to go.
I scooped up my baby, balancing him on one hip and grabbed the bag with all our belongings in the other hand and took another couple of deep breaths, counting for 5 seconds each time I breathed in. I repeated to myself “I am extremely capable” then left the changing area.
Returning to the dedicated standing area. I was directed straight into the pool and our swimming lessons began. Needless to say, the pool remained open, he didn’t scream the whole time and I didn’t drop him!
At the end of the swimming lesson we made our way to the changing rooms and yes, he did cry getting dressed after, but so did the other babies and we both managed to get successfully dressed (skinny jeans were not ideal, but manageable!).
Just because I am a coach, doesn’t mean I don’t have the same worries as any other person, but using the techniques I know certainly helped the experience. All in all I counted this as a successful first time swimming and I’m definitely feeling much calmer and looking forward to subsequent sessions!
If you want to find out more about the various techniques I used to keep calm and composed check out the full composure toolkit that is available to download now.