Football has once again taken over our lives as my son Nicholas has started his second season of football. As much as I talk about how important sports are to children, I am starting to realize the commitment it takes to be a parent of a sports kid and it’s a lot!
Practices began in August with two hour practices, 3 days a week. Then Saturday morning pre-season games, which have you at the field as early as 7:15am. I know football is not the only sport that requires this much time: hockey, swimming, and soccer moms have been telling me the amount of time (very early time for hockey and swimming) they have been spending at the fields, rinks, pools with their kids watching practice.
Not only are parents at the practices, often younger brothers and siblings are spending a lot of time watching their older siblings practice. It can be very long, and not always enjoyable. However, I realize this is not going to change, and watching practices will be a big part of my life the next 10-15 years. So I have to stay positive about it.. instead of hoping it rains every Monday, Wednesday and Friday!
Anyway, I came up with some tips that can make the long practice hours a little bit better for moms:
Pack the car with uniform equipment, chairs, whatever you can do the night before. The less you have to do while you are rushing around to get to practice on time the better. The first week I brought my sons to practice, their helmets and pads were scattered all over the garage. I was stressing out, but now I know just like the start of school, having everything ready to go beforehand makes it a lot easier to get out the door.
This may take a few tries to establish, but trust me, once it is done it will be well worth it. Give your sport-playing child one job that they can be “responsible for.” It can be filling up their water bottle or carrying their equipment to the field. This will help you have one less thing to worry about, and also teach them to appreciate everything that goes into making it possible for them to play the game they love to play.
Activities for Younger Siblings
For younger brothers and sisters, it can be very boring spending nights at practices. So try to make it fun for them too! If you have a big field to play on, bring extra balls and toys that you can play with while you are watching practice. Bring coloring books, cars, Legos – small but fun things kids can play with in the stands at a swim practice. Look for other siblings that also are watching big sibling’s practices and turn the practice into a fun play date!
Squeeze in a Workout
Get up and move! Walk around the track at the football/soccer field. See if you can swim in the empty lanes next to your kids’ swim practice for some extra exercise. Make this time productive for you too!
If you have work things to do, bring your laptop. Want to just read a book or magazine? DO IT! A practice is different from a game, it’s totally ok to take this time for you and just sit and relax. It will help you unwind be a better parent, and maybe even make you excited to go to practice. Even invite a friend to keep you company and have some girl talk!
These are just some ideas I have thought of in my two years of watching practices! Any suggestions from experienced sports moms? I would love to hear them!