Whether we are willing to admit it or not, the start of school is just around the corner (and already has started some places), and with it comes the beginning of another fall youth sports season.
By the second full week of September, parents will be juggling practices, meals, other activities and, don’t forget – school.
It’s hard enough getting back into the routine of setting alarms, packing lunches and supervising homework, but now you throw in the nightly practices, and all of a sudden the stress could begin to mount.
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Here are five things to think about now before the rush of September hits home in your house.
1. Getting to practice. What will you do if your children have practice and you just can’t take them? It might be for a good reason, such as you have a church meeting that night. But even if it’s for a not-so-good reason – delayed on the golf course – your child still needs to have a ride.
Think ahead about whom you’ll call – grandpa, a neighbor or a teammate’s mom – and be sure to ask now if they’re willing to occasionally help you out.
2. Grades vs. sports. In our house, we have a simple rule before the fall sports season even starts: If the grades start suffering, you start missing practices, which ultimately will lead to missed game time.
Any good coach will tell you school comes first, but it’s our job as parents to stress this as well. It’s easier to start focusing on that theory in August rather than bringing it up for the first time when a poor test grade comes home.
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3. Which parent attends which game? When you have more than one child playing youth sports, avoid picking which game you’ll attend based on gender stereotypes or personal preferences. Remember, all of your kids want you in the bleachers.
4. Chores don’t go away. Unfortunately, even though it is football season, you’ll still need to make beds, wash dishes, take out the trash and fold the laundry. Whomever is responsible for these chores during the offseason should also be doing them in-season. It teaches children how to balance fun with responsibility.
5. Make decisions now about conflicts. Your children are inevitably going to have more than just sports commitments after school, in the evenings and on the weekends.Whether it’s a wedding they don’t care about, a sleepover they do care about or Sunday school they have to attend, priorities for those things should be set ahead of time.
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Is a football game going to take precedence over a friend’s birthday party? How about the grandparents’ 50th anniversary? What about that cousin’s wedding that even you don’t want to attend, but have no choice? Will your child have to miss a game to join you? Talk about and make decisions about these conflicts now, rather than waiting until the evening before the big game.
Solving some of these common sports issues now will help take some of the stress off heading back to school. Because like it or not, that time is coming.
Jon Buzby has been involved in and writing about youth sports for the past 30 years, originally as a coach and board member with his now-adult son and most recently "just as a dad" with his 9- and 11-year-old sons. Jon is an award-winning writer and his latest book, “Coaching Kids Made Easier,” is available on Amazon. Send comments or future blog topics you'd like to see to JonBuzby@hotmail.com and follow him @YouthSportsBuzz on Twitter.