Can you believe it?! Summer is already over. Indeed, schools in the Denver area are heading back to the classrooms over the next couple of weeks. I’m not sure how, but it goes by more quickly every year. Each summer, as August nears, I start to anticipate once again needing to balance their school schedules and their extracurriculars because August in Denver means fall sports are starting, too.
If you’re like me, this means your family’s rhythm is about to speed up significantly. I have a seventh grader who trains in a ninja gym year-round and alternates between softball and basketball seasonally, a fifth grader who does competitive gymnastics year-round, and a first grader who now alternates between baseball and basketball (and wants to do all the things as soon as possible – because, third child!).
I’ve had a chance to figure out a few things that help us balance it all as a sports mom. These things allow us to truly enjoy our kids’ sports rather than stress, and I hope these tips add benefits for your family, too. Just because you have multiple kids doesn’t mean it’s impossible – and your family can still find ways to be together!
Meal Plan, Meal Plan, Meal Plan!
It’s safe to say that, hands down, the thing I hear parents stress about most is what’s for dinner. They aren’t sure how to get a decent meal on the table after running around or how to have the family all together – or both. While I can’t say my family is around the table together every night, I do try for at least five nights out of seven. It might be a 7 p.m. dinner, but at least we are together!
For budget reasons with three kids (who just worked up an appetite!), drive-thru and restaurants are not feasible fall backs for us, so those five nights a week are typically dinner at home. That is only possible because of meal planning!
Every weekend, I write out the weeknights and what is going on for each one. That helps me know if I need a crockpot, for example, because we’ll be home later, or if I’m preparing food for someone who will practice on a full stomach (no one wants to swing around on a tummy full of soup!). Having a plan means we are more likely to eat at home! But even a meal plan will only be helpful if I embrace the following tip…
Make Ahead as Much as You Can
Many meals would not be possible at 6:30 at night even if I planned them out. So, I make meals ahead of time if I know we’ll be rolling in late, or if it’s one of the nights where we are eating in shifts. Baked ravioli, for example, can be made earlier in the day if I’m home (or the night before if I’m not) and reheated as people are ready to eat. Crockpot recipes are fantastic for dumping it all in in the morning and being ready to go when you all get home. Similarly, don’t feel guilty embracing pre-made or frozen foods from your grocery store. Most stores have a wonderful selection of family-sized meals with healthy sides that are actually quite economical compared to take out. Take it out of the fridge when you get home and heat it up. Done!
Ask for Help!
Even with a husband who can get home from work in time to help, there are nights that we can’t make it all happen on our own. Perhaps all three need to be somewhere, and we’re simply outnumbered. Other times, I might be able to get a child to their practice, but I need to leave early to get to a meeting and my husband needs to be home getting the others fed before their game or practice. In those moments, I have to ask my fellow team parents for help. I have learned it is a must to reach out to a parent I trust and ask them to help bridge the gap.
Don’t Try to be Supermom!
This might be the one that is hardest for me, because I will always be my children’s biggest fan and want to be that fan in person. I used to try to be at every game, and even practice, for every child. As you can imagine, as I’ve had more children and they’ve gotten older, this has become nearly impossible. I’ve had to come to a place where I am OK trying to be at as much of it as I can but missing some things, too. They know I am their No. 1 fan, even if they are telling me about it later.
To be sure, I try to make missing something an absolute last resort, especially games, but I’m out of control of the scheduling, and they know I try my best. My husband and I trade off (he’ll go to baseball while I go to softball, and the next time we switch, etc.), and we take lots of videos. We make a big deal of watching those videos with our children, and they have fun watching, too. Again, we try to go to as much as we can as a family to set an example of supporting each other, but when our hands are tied and it’s just not possible, we have to show ourselves grace.
I’ve started to realize that that is setting a beautiful example for our children, too – they cannot be everything to everyone either and, hopefully, are learning how to do their best without guilt and show themselves grace, too.
What about you fellow sports moms out there? Do you have any tips that I missed that you’d love to share?