Cheats to being a sport parent
It’s so lovely when your child takes up a sport that they love isn’t it? Their passion grows, their enthusiasm at the end of each training session increases, and you get to watch it all develop in front of you. If there was a slight downside to this new passionate dedication to a new sport, it is just how much sports will become part of your life as a parent as well.
You will have to find space for all the equipment and uniforms. You will need to be a taxi back and forth from matches and have to endure the various weather conditions, and then when you get home you will find muddy socks and pads scattered all over your precious home. So new sport parents this one’s for you – let’s try and get some ease into being a sport parent and take some of the burden off.
One of the biggest pains about your child taking on a new sport with high levels of passion and the many hours of coaching sessions is the amount of kit and accessories that you will need to buy, tidy away, and store between coaching sessions and matches. Maybe it’s your garage that is slowly turning into a room suitable for the living of wild animals or maybe it’s the pile of dirty laundry that seems to be taking on Everest proportions in your son or daughters bedroom.
Let’s get to work. Shoe holders, the kind that hang on the back of doors will make the perfect place for shin guards, water bottles, shoes and anything else that your child will need. The pockets of these can be written on to indicate what goes where and save you and your child from those desperate moments of searching for equipment before leaving for a match or training. Use plastic boxes that can be kept under beds or in cupboards to store all of those shorts and socks that seem never ending. Make sure you also have a dedicated sports bag where you keep all the things that you will need to be ready for games and practices.
Part of the role of that sports bag will be to store things that will help when the inevitable happens. We all know the moment that you completely unpack the car, set up your chairs and sit down pitchside to watch your child’s soccer game and you just start to enjoy the sun shine—it starts to rain. Once that rain comes you can also be sure that the mud is coming with it, so how can we minimize the damage that it does to you, your car and your home?
Let’s see, Cleats first! They are the enemy here and you need to get them into plastic bags and into the sports bag ASAP, follow that with keeping all dirty kit in an old pillow case which can all go straight into the washing machine when you get home and be prepared to stretch out some very large kitchen bags across the back seats so that the rest of your week isn’t spent scrubbing the car or your carpets. For any wet kit make sure you have plenty of zipped plastic bags ready to seal all of that mess in!
Of course your job as a dedicated sport parent will be playing the part of the all-important taxi driver to and from matches and practices. Straight away make sure you car pool with several other kids in the team and for those longer distances to ensure that parents take turns if you’re not all going together. These trips to matches can be super fun and really get the kids going before a match, so turn up some fun music, have a sing and start the day feeling good. If they feel good, they’ll play good. Move in convoys and make sure to take regular stops and meet ups, this keeps everyone fresh and ready for when kick whistle blows, especially you.
Nutrition will also be one of the key roles that you will play in supporting your child’s blossoming career. Ahead of a game make up little pre-game sandwich bag full of fun but healthy goodies. Raisins, pretzels or trail mix and dried fruits can be a great quick burst of energy for kids. Keep a variety of different snacks for the kids so that they don’t get bored with “too healthy/ boring” foods and make sure you time it so that their energy comes right when game time rolls around.
Oranges have been given at half times since forever, but other high sugar fruits such as peaches or pears will also give that burst of energy kids need. Water will always be your best hydration option for kids but if they need a revitalizing drink rather than something artificial like Gatorade or Powerade, try and pick up some natural juices that will have a natural sugar kick but be too artificial. Once the games are over, then it’s treat time. It’s ice cream time, it’s cake time and it’s party time. Make sure to make clear differentiation between pre-game and post-game snacks and foods so that they learn the importance of preparation.