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The youth sports experience starts off simple enough: Little League or soccer practice twice a week, followed by a Saturday morning game. But then things can sometimes get a little more complicated. You may have two kids playing a sport, and then three. And as they get older, their practice days may increase. A fun Saturday morning game turns into an entire weekend tournament, and pretty soon your life becomes consumed by your kids’ sports schedules.
“Today’s parents spend eleven hours less per week with their teenagers than they did two decades ago,” says Brooke DeLenche, Leader of MomsTeam. “And the average mother spends less than a half hour per day talking with her teens.”
As a mom of three athletes, I know that there are seasons when your life seems to revolve around your kids. And honestly, that’s okay. It’s just a season. But even during those times, you can still find a sports-life balance. Here are three ways to create more calm.
Be Intentional with Family Time
Family time can happen randomly without forethought, but if you want to connect on a regular basis, you will have to plan for it. Here are a few suggestions:
• Sync with your partner or spouse on Sunday evenings to plan for the week ahead.
• Go over the week’s schedule with your kids, and plan for the meals you will have together. What is everyone’s favorite pre-comp dish?
• Pick a day or weekend to do something fun as a family, and put it on the calendar.
Let Youth Sports Bring You Together
Going to all your kids’ games can bring you closer to your children. Yet if you push, make demands, criticize, or otherwise insert yourself into their journey, that can create some rifts. Instead, positively support your children, and watch without coaching or yelling instructions. Simply love your child no matter how they perform in their chosen sport.
Whenever you fly, the attendants remind you that if the oxygen masks should drop, you are to put yours on before you help your children. This is not selfishness; it is wisdom.
Take Care of Yourself
In the same way, it is important for parents to take care of themselves. Lack of sleep, poor eating habits, little emotional support, and rare chances for individual growth or renewal might seem like sacrifices that come with the sports-parenting territory. But neglecting your “oxygen mask” can result in poor parenting which can hurt your kids.
Be sure to find time for yourself, and get counseling if you need it. Finding a youth sports/family life balance will not only help you feel better, but it will also help your family remain connected long after all the games and practices are over. And that’s really what matters.
Janis Meredith is a family coach who wants to help all parents raise champions. You can find out more at rcfamilies.com.