Time management tips for busy sports families.
Photo by Mikhail Nilov
Being a parent to a sports-loving family is a blessing. You get to see your kids develop and grow in a safe environment and watch them make life-long friends on the field, court, or gymnasium.
Athletically active kids also gain skills that will serve them well in the future. Being part of a team teaches your children to communicate while under pressure and shows them the importance of sportsmanship and the value of hard work.
But, as a parent of a sports family, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and lose track of your kids’ activities during a busy season. Everything seems under control until a practice gets canceled, another coach schedules extra training, and one of your children’s teams makes the state.
You need excellent time management to negotiate this knot of practice, training, and matches — here are a few tips to help you out.
Calendar and planner
Hopefully, you already have a calendar to keep track of everything your family does. A calendar can alleviate the stress involved with running a sports family and ensures that you’re always there to show your kids that you love watching them play.
But not all calendars are equal. As a sports parent, you need to take your calendar from the little leagues to the pros. You can create a custom monthly calendar by choosing a style and design that suits you and your whole family’s needs. Your best bet is to choose a template that offers lots of space in each day’s notes.
When filling out your calendar, go heavy on abbreviations and color-coding. You need to be able to quickly see who is doing what when you look at the calendar and cryptic notes like “Joe with Coach D” will not help you out. Ideally, give each child color on your calendar, and use easy abbreviations like
- P = Practice
- C = Competition
- T = Travel
- Car = Carpool
Over time, you’ll customize your own calendar with keys and easy-to-understand notes. It might seem excessive at first, but having a calendar that you can make your own makes time management that much easier when things are getting a little hectic.
We’ve all been there: it’s 6 pm, you’ve just got home from practice, and you think you’re done driving for the day. Then, your eldest reminds you that they have volleyball practice tonight… and it starts in 30 minutes.
Hopefully, your calendar will help you prevent time management mishaps like this. But, with a lot on your plate, it’s still easy to lose track of where each of your kids needs to be at any given time. You can make the whole process infinitely easier by getting your travel organized ahead of time and carpooling with other parents.
Carpooling is a classic part of the sports parent playbook, as it gives you extra time to work on other things or transport your other children to different engagements. You can, for example, cook up healthy, easy-to-store meals like chickpea salad sandwiches or coconut fried vegetable rice. If you’re feeling particularly altruistic, consider making extra servings for the family you have carpooled with.
Carpooling is a great way to save gas and time. However, you do need to be a little choosy when finding other parents to carpool with. Some folks can be hit-or-miss and a sudden cancellation can leave you scrambling for the car keys to pick up other kids from around town.
Traveling to practices and supporting your children during competitions is enough of a time commitment by itself. But if your household is poorly organized, then you stand almost no chance of getting your kids to their sports commitments on time.
You can make the whole process easier by learning how to store and organize seasonal sports equipment. There’s no point having baseball bats lying around the house in December, and little Bobby probably doesn’t need his skis in June. Even if you only have a small space, you can hang equipment on wall mounts and make use of ceiling space by installing simple tracks to contain balls, cleats, and racquets.
As a sports parent, you also have to deal with the not-insignificant issue of laundry. Washing your kid’s clothes immediately is the absolute best way to deal with the mountain of laundry that they produce every day. Even if your washing machine is only three-quarters full, get the dirty clothes cleaned ASAP to prevent the spread of bacteria and ensure everyone has what they need.
All this organization might start to make your head spin. But remember, practice gear and uniforms don’t have to be pristinely folded and made to look fit for a Queen. No one cares if there are a few wrinkles in your son’s tennis shorts — just make sure they are clean and stored in an easy-to-reach tub.
Running a sports-oriented family is a serious operation. You have to stay on top of meals, laundry, driving, practices, and events just to make it through the season. The only way to stay on top of it all is with an adequate calendar and some serious organization. Fortunately, you can create custom calendars to suit your kid’s activities and carpooling can give you the time you need to ensure that your kids can stay focused on doing what they love.