Sports are good. In fact, sports are great. A 2020 study developed by the PCSFN Science Board noted that sports lead to better health (mentally, socially, and physically), better educational and career success, and lifelong participation that will benefit your kid not only now, but also far into the future.
This is all great, and you know that having your kids play multiple sports will only increase further the positive benefits both physiologically and mentally. The problem is that in the modern world it feels like there is so little time to get anything done.
This is true for everyone, but especially true for single-parent families that want to give their kid(s) the best chance to succeed, but are struggling when it comes to balancing flag football, gymnastics, and volleyball in addition to working two jobs.
The level of stress that this can cause is overwhelming, so here are five tips that will help ease that burden and better manage your kid’s sporting schedule in the future.
Plan in Advance
This tip seems so easy but it is one that many parents fail to do as they are so busy catching up with last week that planning for next week doesn’t even enter their mind. There are very simple steps that make planning in advance a breeze. Here are some of them.
- Morning routine – Kids and work will take over your day in a hurry. Use a little time before that happens to mentally map out the day over a cup of coffee.
- Night-time routine – Waking up to even a small level of preparation helps make the day easier. Something as simple as setting out clothes for the next morning helps frame your mind to be more productive.
- Avoid last-minute panic – The two above steps will help with this. There is nothing worse than having to take your kid to a football coaching session and his helmet is missing. Taking steps to prepare in advance will remove all that stress.
- Family calendar – This can be as simple or fancy as you want, but a monthly family calendar is a must. Color code it by sport or by kid or however makes sense to you. Doing this on the first of each month will not only allow you to find scheduling conflicts to resolve, but it will also act as a heads up if there is anything coming up that needs extra attention. This will help you avoid last-minute panic and live a more relaxed life.
This one is simple, but incredibly effective when it comes to managing your kid’s sporting schedule. It is really all about efficiency. There is no point in four different parents driving from the same general area to take a kid to practice. Sure, games are important and every parent wants to watch, but just ask Allen Iverson what he feels about practice.
Get to know fellow parents and work out a carpooling schedule where everyone does their part. This is perfect in the modern world where many people have jobs with odd hours and while you work weekends, you have Mondays and Thursdays off. That schedule is almost certain to be different from that of some other parents, so get that schedule made and put it on the calendar.
As a side benefit of this, you will be helping the environment by reducing the carbon footprint of multiple families. Which is nice.
Become a Multitasker
Multitasking is important. Watching a game or practice and being there for your kid obviously matters, but use this time to also do something else if possible.
When I was growing up I played soccer every Sunday morning. After he dropped me off at the game, my dad would go and buy a newspaper (they were still a thing) and he would get back 15 minutes or so into the game. He would then watch, read the paper, and drink his coffee. He was ahead of his time.
The modern equivalent of this is to walk to the or make an important phone call (or both). As long as you can keep an eye on the action and talk with your kid about their best moments in he game, this time-saving technique is as wide open as your imagination.
Work on Being Early
Being early is something of a lost art. A generation or two ago – think grandparents – if you were 15 minutes early you were on time and if you were on time you were late. People don’t think that way anymore, but it isn’t a bad habit to have.
Being on time has so many positive benefits when it comes to managing a busy schedule. It will put you ahead of the game on your day and there is nothing more stressful than running late. It is also often the case that when you start late, you can never catch up. This means that getting out of bed as little as 10 minutes early can massively decrease your stress.
The other major benefit of this – along with teaching your kids ideal habits for their educational/work future – is that it keeps coaches happy. There is nothing worse for a football coach than to have a perfect game plan in mind, only to be scrambling to fill spots as players are dragging themselves in later than scheduled.
Sometimes Less Can be More
This might be the most important tip of all.
We try to cram so much into a schedule that instead of having fun, everything feels like work. Life can get stressful, if it does then prioritize family time and remove some of the clutter from what you are trying to do.
Sure, more football training sounds good, but be careful of burning out your kid by pushing them to too many sessions. They should be having fun too, and if there is any sign that they are not then step back and find a better balance.
Balance – after all – is what life is all about and your kids will love you for being involved in their sports without pushing too much.
Working on each of these five tips will immediately make your life easier. It will also cause less friction between you and your kid as they see you being more engaged in what they do in a more relaxed way. All these tips are life lessons that you will be passing on, so as well as best managing your kid’s sporting schedule, you will also be setting an example that they can pass down to their own kids at some point in the future.
Life is busy enough. Don’t make it busier than it has to be.
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