5 ways to find joy as a sports parent

By Janis Meredith | Posted 3/14/2018

Do you find your days are flying by all too quickly because you’re so busy as a sports parent? When this happens, it’s easy to forget to smell the roses along the way. Parents are especially susceptible to this because raising kids is probably the most demanding job out there. Who even has the time to worry about how to find joy?

I love the way this verse from the Psalms says it:

My days are swifter than a runner; they fly away without a glimpse of joy.

Can you relate to this author? Are your days going by swifter than a runner? Are you struggling to find glimpses of joy in them?

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If that’s you — and I’m not surprised if every parent reading this raises their hand — then I’d like to suggest five ways for you to glimpse the joy in your busy sports parenting days.

1. Get grateful

Take a few moments every day to assess your life and write down some things you are thankful for.

It could be waking up in a comfy bed, watching your children play a sport they love, chatting with a friend in the stands during the game, or a taking a walk after dinner with your spouse.

Gratitude is not just something that will wash over you, although it sometimes does. You can make a choice to be grateful. In that choice, you are looking for little things that bring you joy.

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2. Play more

Being silly and laughing is a sure way to get glimpses of joy. There’s just something about letting go and acting like a kid again that is refreshing.

The problem is, you are often too busy to take the time to play. That is a travesty.

If playing doesn’t come naturally to you, start with baby steps. Set aside 10 minutes each day to just be silly with your kids. Go out in the backyard and play a pickup game of football and just have fun doing it. No coaching, no critiquing. Just plain fun.

This will not only be medicine for your soul, it will help you bond with your children. You just can’t go wrong when you take time to play with those you love.

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3. Learn more

One sure way to shrivel up your soul is to stop learning. Discovering new things is a great way to glimpse joy.

Take time to understand the game your child has chosen to play. When my youngest started playing volleyball, I knew next to nothing about the game, but I asked her a lot of questions, watched closely and even did a little research online. Learning about it added to my enjoyment of the game.

Are you open to learning how to be a better coach? Are you willing to go to clinics and study videos?

Are you eager to be a better parent? Do you take the time to read books, listen to podcasts, or just ask advice of a wise friend?

4. Give more

Have you ever met a joyful stingy person? I just don’t think that’s possible. A truly joyful person knows how to give to others — money, time, support.

If you don’t do this naturally, then schedule your giving. When you pay your bills monthly, try to give to one charity a month. Look for opportunities to give in your community and for goodness sake, take your kids along so they learn how to give more, too.

I promise as you give to others, you will get many glimpses of joy.

5. Notice more positive

Experts agree that optimistic people are happier. It’s a process scientists call reframing: If you try to cast negative events in a positive light, and you see the silver lining, you can turn a bad situation into a joyful one.

This is related to gratefulness, but it goes a step further. Noticing more positive means you may have to look really hard to find the good in a situation.

Look for the little victories. Look for the lessons that come out of a hard game or a loss. Look beyond what seems to be bad and find something, anything, that’s good in it.

It takes Practice to Find Joy

Unless you are naturally a positive and joyful person, glimpsing joy will take practice. But as with anything worth having, the effort is always worth the work.

Janis B. Meredith is a life coach for sports parents. She provides resources to help parents give their children a positive and growing youth sports experience. Learn more about how she can help parents have Less Stress and More Fun in Youth Sports.