For many families and young rec athletes, summer is almost an offseason. Sure, there’s baseball/softball and maybe swim team, but for the most part, the warmest months are often the least crazy for parents.
Alas, summer zips by, September arrives, and the chaos resumes. Football, soccer, volleyball, lacrosse, and cheerleading kick into high gear. The fall seasons of baseball and basketball start, and though they aren’t quite as intense as their normal seasons, they still are additional sports on the schedule. Add in the fact that fall is already a little nuts with kids back in school, and you can see why following smart time management tips is so important this time of year.
Most parents feel all the running around is worth it, and kids generally love playing multiple sports. Therefore, your goal is to make the autumn schedule work without feeling like your brain is going to melt. Here are four time management tips for your busy fall athlete(s):
1. Keep your car stocked
If you are shuttling your kids from one sport to the next (or from one non-sports activity to practice or a game; e.g., a piano lesson to football practice), forgetting to bring snacks, water, or the right equipment is all too easy. Keep extra granola bars and fruit snacks in your car for quick energy between and during events. Bottles of water and sports drinks help as well—just because the weather might be cooler doesn’t mean your young athlete shouldn’t be hydrated. And an extra soccer ball in the car never hurts in case your child forgets one at home.
Keeping your car stocked extends to parents’ needs as well—you should be prepared for any weather condition and any seating arrangement. Does the away game your son is playing at not have bleachers? Camping chairs that stay in the trunk all fall will prevent you from standing. Not sure if it will rain at your daughter’s soccer game? That golf umbrella will be a godsend if it does. Is the sun out but the wind unexpectedly chilling? Grab a blanket from the car and huddle up.
2. Dress for success
Ah, fall weather. One day is idyllically cast from a Norman Rockwell painting, the next feels like winter has arrived two months early. Keeping your athletes appropriately dressed for whatever conditions they encounter is important and, ultimately, saves you time because you aren’t making extra trips home fetching the right clothes. Unless you are certain of blue skies and a 70-degree day, consider multiple scenarios when dressing your athletes for a fall sport. Layers are great because you can always add or subtract as needed. Gloves and hats might not always be necessary, but keeping them in the bag or car always helps in case they are. And fresh socks to change into after a rainy game will help your kids warm up for the ride home.
3. Plan and prioritize
Time management tips are essential for families with fall athletes because sports aren’t the only things going on. We already mentioned after school activities such as music lessons, but don’t forget about homework, too. Kids move up a grade and can encounter a new set of academic challenges that extend beyond the classroom.
Planning your schedule often becomes necessary in order to fit homework, sports, other activities, family dinners, and free time (and elementary and middle school kids absolutely still need some unstructured play time every day) into the limited hours available. This schedule might mean choosing a game in one sport over practice in another. It might mean skipping sports for a recital or school play. And for rec athletes, it might mean occasionally missing a practice or game altogether—and at this age, that’s OK; just be sure to let coaches know ahead of time your schedule is just too crazy on a certain day or week.
4. Take advantage of league software
If your league (or leagues) uses the latest online league management software, a powerful tool for managing your schedule will be at your disposal. Reminders of practices and games can be sent to you—and on multiple devices, not just email—so that you will be notified of regularly scheduled events and any changes that might occur due to rainouts or other fall postponements. Master schedules allow you to track your events, which is an even greater help if you are juggling multiple kids in the same league. Online rosters give you the means to contact parents to set up car pools—another big help in getting athletes from here to there. These time management tips are all the more easier with league software; you need to just take advantage of it to realize the benefits.
What time management tips do you recommend for fall sports?