This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
One of the best things about kids’ summer sports is the whole outdoor atmosphere you just don’t get with indoor sports. Even when it’s cold and rainy. Better yet is seeing your child grow and develop a love of sport and being able to cheer them on from the sidelines every step of the way.
Truly, I never pictured myself a “sports mom”. But here we are, and, honestly, I’ve embraced it. That’s what happens when you marry a “sports guy”, I guess. And while our kids have different levels of involvement, the juggling that goes into surviving the kids’ summer sports season takes patience, planning, and a whole lotta pizza. Here’s how this “sports family” does it.
Top 11 tips to surviving your kids’ summer sports season
1. Register wisely.
Planning begins at registration. Be sure the sports night(s) you enrol your children in don’t conflict with other kids’ activities or work schedules unless you have the genie power to blink two or more kids to two or more locations at the same time.
2. Use a family calendar.
Fill out everyone’s schedule on the family fridge calendar so the kids have a handle on what to expect in the coming weeks. We swear by our life-size Amotherword calendar and our kids are notorious for spotting any changes, additions, or stickers to it. Next, sync said schedule to your phone calendars and then curse said schedule because the only day you have free from now until the end of August is a week from next Monday.
3. Prepare the essentials.
Pack a backpack ahead of time with all the things you would otherwise forget: sunscreen, mosquito spray, a small First Aid kit, tissues, wet wipes, anti-itch ointment (in case you forgot the bug spray), a large, empty ziploc or plastic bag for garbage or dirty clothing, and a couple of activities (hello, dollar store) if you have other kids tagging along. Add a couple of extra bottles of water and a few back-up, non-perishable snacks and you’re the next contestant on Survivor: Soccer Moms.
4. Plan your route.
If your kids are new to the sport or you’re in a different league, you may be playing at different locations than those you’re used to. Get the lay of the land so you can arrive on time including a swing by the nearest Starbucks location for an iced coffee. Watching seven-year-olds pick dandelions and do cartwheels for an hour requires caffeine fortification.
5. Pee before you leave the house.
Someone always has to pee (and by “someone” I mean you; our bladders aren’t what they used to be). This ties in with #4 above. Do your recon. Unless you know for certain that the field you’re heading to has public bathrooms on site, you’d better make sure you’re not stuck 15 minutes into a two-hour baseball game with a swishing belly. On second thought, maybe skip the iced coffee.
6. Make yourself comfortable.
Invest in a comfortable chair or seat pad; your backside will thank you. And bring blankets for evening games; nights can get cool. Industrial-sized umbrellas are good to have on-hand as well; we’ve had more than our share of soppy games.
7. Be present but charge your phone.
You are going to want to take pictures and videos and you will be super annoyed to arrive at the field with only 36% battery power left on your phone. Maybe that’s a blessing. The biggest thrill for you child is that you be present to watch them play, to clap and cheer them on. If you have younger siblings in tow, this can be challenging and you may be tempted to pop a tablet in front of them so can…y’know…watch the game. And hey, that works (and you do you and all that jazz). Do try to encourage the younger kids to watch with you and cheer on their brother or sister or bring out one of the activities you brought along. It’ll buy you and extra two-and-a-half minutes.
8. Feed your child however you can.
You want to hit up your slow cooker or IntantPot? Have at ‘er. At some point you will come to accept that your kids will be eating an egg-and-cheese sandwich in the car on the way to the game, wolfing down last night’s reheated leftovers, or eating cold pizza again on the regular. Depending on who needs to be where and by which time, weeknight dinners will be whatever you can string together, and chances are your kids won’t even care. Eating in the van seems like a luxury. And pizza three nights in a row? Jackpot! As long as their bellies are satisfied and they’ve got energy to play, you’ve got it made in the shade.
9. Be the cool snack mom.
Ah, snacks. Pack the coolest snacks even though snack rotations are the bane of your summer-sport existence (don’t even get me started). And by “cool” I mean fresh fruit, carrot sticks, and cheese strings. Because, guess what? My kid just finished their dinner an hour ago on the ride over and now it’s bedtime so they don’t need a full-blown, three-course snack-fest! But, hey, if freezies, fish crackers, and juice boxes are your jam, go for it. Whatever works, folks. Remember, we’re in survival mode.
10. Hydrate those little bodies.
Remember to bring lots of water. Especially on hot days. And add ice; depending on what type of bottle your children use, the water may not stay cold enough. Those kids are running up, down, and around a field and they need to stay hydrated. And pack some for you, too. Iced coffee alone won’t cut it.
11. Make new friends.
Get over your awkward self and start a conversation. Make a new friend. I’m not talking BFF-level friendship; but it’s way more fun when you have someone to chat with throughout the game. Not to mention, aren’t we always encouraging our kids to make new friends? You’re never too old to add to your circle.
It’ll be over before you know it
Pretty soon summer will be winding down and you’ll be wondering where the time went. You’ll realize how much you enjoyed getting out in the fresh air, watching your kid come into their own. You met new people with whom you pretty much had a standing, weekly date. And it’s all ending.
It will dawn on you how much you enjoyed the frenzied chaos and excitement and how much you will miss the team and the parents. That is, until you realize you have a solid two weeks before school starts and nothing planned. Enjoy the silence because, hey, doesn’t hockey/basketball/volleyball start soon…?