Sports Moms everywhere are packing up the cars and heading to the soccer field, baseball diamond, or lacrosse field. Like an explorer preparing for an expedition, sports moms have the essential gear, snack bags, directions to the field, the coach’s contact information, other parents’ contact information, back up plans, and a map of all the bathrooms nearby.
Just kidding. Almost.
Like anything, being prepared for almost all eventualities is the key to having a great time as a family during the sports season. Plan ahead by packing the car with supplies, having a plan for handling the food issue, and fit your expectations to meet the needs of siblings if they’re coming along.
Depending on the age of your children, you’ll need most of these car supplies. If you have a child with food allergies or bee sting allergies, find out ahead of time if there will be a first aider at the field. You don’t want to spend precious time looking for a person with medical training.
If you need to bring medicine for your kids, keep it on you in a small bag. Don’t leave it for another kid to pick up, or to get lost if there’s an emergency.
- One or more Camping chair with cup holders
- Stroller for young ones
- Blanket for a picnic
- Small cooler with water bottles
- Bring snacks for under 5 crowd. Snack bar won’t offer healthy snacks
- Bring sandwiches from home if during the dinner hour
- One or two rag towels
- Emergency kit in car: extra set of clothes including underwear, extra set of shoes, plastic grocery bags, sealable food storage bags for smelly clothes, hand wipes
- Basic first aid kit: bandaids, ointment, Benadryl, Advil, epi pen if needed, latex-free gloves, asthma medication if needed
- Location of local emergency room
Food at games almost always stirs up a passionate debate. Younger kids don’t need a snack or Gatorade during a one hour game, especially if they’re playing after eating a meal. At the most, a bottle of water and a piece of fruit are perfect. However, you need to go with what works best for your family. If you decide to bring a snack for a younger sibling, the other siblings will want one, too. If the game is right before dinner, or during the dinner hour, a hungry kid makes for a stressed parent.
Explaining to your kids what you will be doing before the game, and giving them options will help the stress. If you need to bring snacks or a meal, ask the kids to help with preparing the food. When they ask for snack bar food, gently remind them about your family’s plan.
The Sibling Factor
If you’re bringing little ones, be prepared to spend a lot of time on your feet. When your kids are participating at the younger levels, it’s not unusual for siblings to wander on the field, and everyone understands. As the kids get older, and the games get more organized and serious, siblings on the field run the risk of being hurt. They can also interfere with the playing of the game. Be prepared to supervise your kids who are not playing that day at all times.
Having both parents attend a game works really well when young ones have to come along. You can take turns watching the games and watching the kids. Many games take place near a play area. Another option is to pop the little one in a stroller or carrier, and walk them around the outside of the field. You should be able to see some of the game while keeping your little one mostly occupied.
Some sports programs have a set time during Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon for young kids; you always go to the same place for the games. Some traveling teams travel in a small geographic area, usually around your town. Slightly older teams may travel as much as an hour or longer. Carpooling with other parents when your kids are older and you’re juggling multiple sports schedules can be a big help.
When you’re at the field with younger kids, take advantage of playground area. Depending on the layout of the field, you may be able to keep one eye on your kid and one eye on the player. If not, the playground is a great place to meet other parents, especially those on your kids’ team.
Some fields do not have bathrooms. This is usually not a good time for potty training unless you can bring a small potty to set up in the back of your car. Other fields may have the bathroom by the snack bar or all the way across the field. Having two parents at the field gives you an extra set of hands in case you need to leave your child playing in the game.
As I mentioned above, if you have kids with food allergies, asthma, or bee sting allergies, know what medical resources are available at the field. The coach won’t mind you asking at all. Even if you’ve filled out a health form for your child with the organization, make sure the coach knows if your kid has medical issues. They can respond quicker during an emergency if they are prepared in advance, especially if you are not at the game.
Whatever number you give as an emergency contact, make sure you or that person answers the phone immediately when called. As a Girl Scout leader, when I was at a camporee recently, I contacted a parent 3 times about her daughter, and didn’t get any response until my 3rd call 45 minutes after the first call. Fortunately, I was not calling about an emergency. What if it had been an emergency? We were an hour away from home, plus the parent could have been away from home.
What are your tips for making the most of spring and fall sports as a family?
Shared at: The Super Mommy Club