This is the second post in my Sports Season Survival Series. If you missed my first post about obtaining “Uniform Success” you can read it here. I’m sorry to say a magical set of “keys” doesn’t exist. If they do exist, I’ve misplaced our set. Here’s what I’ve learned about sports practice nights that make ours run smoother when the world works as it should and all the planets align just so. Sometimes that happens and sometimes we have nights like last Thursday where we are piling out the door when we should have left 5 minutes ago with one kid still screaming about not wanting to go that night. Here are some common sports practice night problems we’ve encountered and how we attempted to solve them. Again, these tips are geared toward soccer because that is the sport my boys are playing but they could just as easily be applied to any other sport, I think.
Just Getting There:
This may seem silly but write down EVERY sports practice on your calendar, mark it on your phone, or where-ever you log important dates. Of course, you’re going to remember by the 8th practice that your kid has to be there every Monday at 5:30p.m. Nope, not if you are like me. I did that this summer. Sitting at the last baseball game of the season, I was hit. No, I was not hit by the baseball but by the thought that we completely skipped the practice the Monday before. Why? I didn’t write down the practice night that week. I had to go find the coach later and apologize. You do know to let the coach know if your child is going to miss practice don’t you?
Getting There and Back Again With Everything:
If you can, keep the sports gear in your trunk! This way it is there when you set out toward practice. If your children like to practice at home, I’d suggest having extra gear if you can afford it. If not, check the trunk the night before the sports practices. We’ve been late to practices because we were all doing a mad dash through the backyard (and sometimes the whole house) looking for a soccer ball. Also, write the child’s name on all equipment with a Sharpie. What you thought no one else would have a ball that looked like yours? I think you’ll be surprised. Do not forget to take your child a drink! I think my boys drink more water on practice night than they do on game days and there is not an open concession around to buy a quick Gatorade or water on sports practice nights. We have plenty of reusable bottles around here but bottled water already in the refrigerator is handy to have as well. I prefer to give my boys water at practices because Gatorade tends to make my kids a little hyper. A kid that downs a Gatorade after an evening sports practice on a school night is a kid that won’t be going to bed at a reasonable time around here.
When do you feed your kids on sports practice nights? This is a tough one with no right or wrong answer. I think the main thing here is to know your children. Last season we were at soccer practice from 5:30 until 7:30 (one started at 5:30 and the other at 6:30 at the same place). My boys turn into little monsters and not the kind that are Lady GaGa fans if they aren’t fed fairly regularly. So for us, dinner PRIOR to practice works better and if the weather is miserable hot, we eat lighter meals and I do try to give at least 30 minutes between dinner and practice start even if it means we’re eating dinner at 4:15p.m. on those nights. Whether you feed your kids prior to practice or after, I certainly wouldn’t pick soccer practice night to crack out the Julia Child recipes. Keep it simple! If you get tired of sandwiches or cereal on those nights, freezer meals can help. However, don’t forget to plan for cleanup time if you are eating before practice. I don’t know about your children but mine tend to eat slowly ESPECIALLY if we actually have somewhere to be. It kind of stinks having to leave dishes on the table to make it out the door to sports practice and it is certainly no fun to return home and have to deal with it. I always found we tried eat dinner after soccer practices that the temptation to run through the golden arches intensified. Note though: Running through the golden arches once in a while on practice nights is not the end of the world! I’ve certainly done that before. Actually, we did that last Thursday.
In Part 2, I’ll tackle (Ha! Get the football reference?) Homework Hassles, Reluctant Children, Sibling Blues, and Schedule Conflicts. What steps do you follow to make sure your sports practice nights run as smoothly as possible?