How to Handle Multiple Sports Activities
As soon as your second child is born, parental juggling begins. No longer do you
have a one-on-one ratio — now you have to split your time. It's an enjoyable effort,
to be sure, but as soon as you get the balance worked out, your babies become school-aged
kids — and those kids very often play sports.
Adding in a sports rotation strikes fear into the hearts of the most intrepid
parents, and it's no wonder. Between practices and games, picture sessions and conditioning,
there can be an activity or two every day of the week. Multiply that times two,
three or more children and you soon may find yourself running for the hills. There
are strategies, though, to balancing multiple kids and/or multiple sports activities.
Here are a few that have helped me:
- Mark your calendar:
Remember I suggested you get a big desktop calendar and mount it on your wall? Mark
every single practice on that calendar. Color it according to each child — one kid
gets a blue highlighter, one a pink and one an orange. This way, you can see at
a glance if you've got two activities at the same time and if you need to be in
three different cities.
- Pick just one:
It can be tremendously exciting for a young athlete to be asked to join two teams
or to focus on two sports. You are only one parent, though, and it can be a difficult
yet necessary lesson for your athlete to learn. Playing for two teams doesn't leave
time for much else in life, so it would be a great idea for your talented child
to pick one area of focus.
- Get to know the other parents:
The other parents in the team can be your greatest allies. They can help
with driving, be there in your stead if you must miss a game, and serve as your
eyes and ears when you can't be there.
- Discuss it with your kids:
I vividly remember the fall season that I had four playing soccer, two running
cross country and one in boxing class. I sat them all down and laid it out honestly.
As one adult with six kids, I was not going to be able to attend every game or practice,
and I needed them to be OK with it. If they weren't going to be OK, I would need
to know beforehand, and we'd have to revisit the thought of that particular child
playing sports. I also told the older kids that I wouldn’t ever be able to leave
a 5- or 6-year-old alone at practice, and I wanted that understood in the beginning.
A bit of knowledge upfront goes a long way toward smoothing over hurt feelings.
- When you are there, be there:
Don't be on the phone with your girlfriend. As much as possible, stay
off the smart phone and avoid checking emails. When you are watching, be present
and focused on your child. They see it, they know it and they remember.
- Cut yourself some slack:
That fall season I mentioned above? It was a tough season for me, one that caused
me to cry a couple of times when I just couldn't be there for a game or missed a
goal. It took a sit-down discussion with a close friend to remind me that I was
only one person and I could do only so many things at the same time. Be nice to
yourself. Don't set expectations so high that you are certain to fail.
Have you had more than one
child playing sports, or one child playing multiple sports? What are your favorite
time and coping techniques?
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