Making Sports Work for Your Family
As parents, many of us ride the kids sports train year-round, or at least in the fall and spring. In our family we currently have four kids on four different teams! This could easily make us crazy, but we do everything we can to avoid losing our minds. So, I thought I would share what works for us. Maybe some of this will work for you too.
- Plan. This seems obvious, but so often we just don’t do it. When I plan our meals for the week (on a good week anyway) I look at my calendar to see who has practices and games and plan meals that are easy to prepare for those days. I don’t like my kids to have a full stomach right before practice, so we try to eat an hour before we have to leave our house. So if we are leaving at 6:00 we are eating at 5:00 ideally. I tell my husband what time we plan to eat and he tries to be home to join us when he can.
- Ask for help! We do our best to get on teams with friends so that we can share rides when needed. We are lucky to have grandparents in town too, so they can help us out too. We aren’t shy about our needs and ask for help when we need it. None of us needs to be supermom or superdad.
- Be prepared. We quickly learned that requests for the concession stand were going to make us lose our minds. We don’t want our kids to expect to get a drink and a snack every time someone has a game. I started keeping individually bagged snacks in the back of our van last spring. I usually just buy bulk boxes at Sam’s of Cheez-its or animal crackers or whatever my kids like. When we leave the house each big kid is responsible for bringing their own water bottle and I make sure we have sippy cups for the little ones. Since the snacks are already in the van it is one less thing to have to remember when leaving the house. We also keep a couple of chairs in the back of the van in case bleacher space is limited.
- Stay together! While it is not always possible for us to be in the same place at the same time, we try to stick together as much as we can. This goes back to asking for help. If one kid has a practice and another kid has a game, we will drop the one off at practice and ask a friend to bring them to the game we are at for the other kid. We just try to keep as many of us in one place as possible, or take one car whenever possible, even if it means dropping off and going back for someone. Those 15 minutes in the car to get to practices and games are 15 extra minutes of togetherness.
- Know your limits. We love sports and we are glad our kids are involved inteam activities. But we also know that sports are not the ultimate priority in our lives. We have made commitments to teams and we keep those commitments. However, every once in a while if we are just at our limit, or our kids are clearly showing signs of needing a break, we might miss a practice here and there. We would try not to miss a game, and we tell the coaches ahead of time as much as we can if we are going to miss any activity, of course. Scholarships are not won or lost at youth league practices. Family is our priority and we will do all we can to make sports bond us as a family rather than cause tension.
So, is your family riding the sports train too?
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