It is said that competition nurtures resilience and few things build character more than being part of a team. This season, I initially fought every reason not to, and then quite reluctantly signed my son up for baseball with our local little league. Tryouts went well and within a few short days, we got the schedule. 3 days of practice; 2 games a week. Let that sink in for a little. As I plugged in dates and times on the desk calendar, I slouched over exhaustedly wondering if we would ever sleep again. Then, factor that schedule in with other extracurricular activities, homework and dinner. Well, scratch that, dinner became an on-the-go fiasco if we ever wanted to wind down and get any relaxation before the night turned into morning again.
So, how can families survive sports’ evenings? What tactics can be employed that will lead to a more relaxing season? After all, it would be remiss of us to become entangled and intertwined in the busyness and miss out on the growth, fun and adventure of watching from the sidelines as our littles pour their whole souls into the red clay batting and fielding positions.
Please find below my top 3 things to ensure smoother afternoons when the days turn into nights.
1) Make a checklist and keep it by the door. Ensure you scan the list quickly prior to leaving to avoid mishaps. The list should contain a folding chair (which can be kept in the car and brought out if needed), umbrella in car, water, snacks for younger siblings, baseball backpack packed and ready to go (bat, helmet, gloves, and cap, ball for practice, water, and cleats). Forgetting a folding chair can be detrimental because when a 6 year old is playing; every grandma is out there to cheer that baby on! This means bleachers are full and you will be standing for a good hour and a half unless you choose to risk sitting on snow cone induced ants mounds.
2) Be present. This means that you pay attention, engage and encourage your child. Worry less about the outcome of the game and more about the effort being put forth. Use affirmative baseball lingo, “Good hustle”, “Great catch”, “Power Swing”, “Heavy Hitter”, etc. Your child is watching for your reactions and there is nothing more discouraging to their little hearts than seeing you more fixated on your phones or laptops than you are with watching them try their hardest. After the game, ensure they had fun, praise their effort and make sure they never have to question how proud you are of them. Encouragement and positive reinforcement will allow children to continually strive to be better and this will always validate the difficulties of being a sports parent.
3) Get enough sleep! Lack of sleep makes for irritable parents and kids who cannot focus on directions. It can lead to obvious lack of effort due to simply being tired. A tried and tested surefire way to get good outcomes is to let the child nap prior to a game and/or practice. This can be difficult when their minds are already begin to rile up with excitement. Utilizing white noise for sleep will enable them to fall asleep faster and gain much needed rest which will lead to more productivity, better attitudes and a calmer experience for all involved.
If followed these tips will surely help to relieve some anxiety surrounding baseball season and eliminate tantrums which often stem from unpreparedness, lack of attention and lack of sleep.
Naimah Shaw is the mother of five beautiful children and the owner/content creator of the parenting blog, This Beautiful Life. There you can find product reviews, articles and conversations about food, homeschooling and motherhood. We are pleased to have her as a regular contributor to Fade Away Sleep Sounds.