Spring is here! And with it, a new season of youth sports and activities.
While we are delighted to see the little ones have fun and enjoy the warmer weather, keeping up with sports and activity schedules can be challenging for parents (and kids)!
Here are 5 ways to remove stress from your extracurricular routine :
1. Limit the number of activities : Though your child may want to try many sports or classes, resist the urge to sign him or her up for more than a select few at a time. Some families swear by the “no more than 2” rule (a sport and a musical instrument, for example). How much extracurricular activity each individual child can handle, varies on a case-by-case basis. Factors such as personality, level of physical endurance, and homework come into play. However, their sports and activity choices also need to fit their family’s resources and lifestyle. And leaving room for family time is important, too!
2. Use technology to mark your calendar : Step 1 is to stay on top of the dates and times when your child needs to be at practices, games, or classes! Mark your master calendar (Google calendar, for example), or use a scheduling tool that syncs with it, so that you can see everything in one place, and get reminders. If your child’s sports team has its own website with a game schedule, see if there is a calendar export option so that that game and practice dates are reflected on your master calendar. There are also apps that allow you to manage your child’s schedule, and that sync to your calendar (see example in #3 below). This is especially useful if there are schedule changes.
3. Collaborate on transportation : Whenever possible, coordinate with other trusted parents even before you sign up your child for an activity or class – or even a camp. Find parents with children at the same school, trying out for the same team or planning to do the same activity. Whether you need help with dropoff, pickup or both, it’s worth trying to set up a regular carpool. And even if you don’t – line up backup help in case of unexpected delays, like heavy traffic or a late meeting. Mobile apps such as KangaDo make this easy by connecting you with your trusted network of friends and family, so that you can request help in an instant while on the go. You can download KangaDo for free (iOS and Android).
4. Get ahead of homework on the weekend : Whose kids like to do homework on the weekend? Ours don’t! But even they are relieved when they come home after late practice on a school night, and don’t have to worry about starting the homework due on the next day. As kids get older, their schoolwork requires more advance preparation anyway – and planning around activity schedules is a good way to start.
5. Plan weekday meals in advance : If you can, plan and prepare meals in advance for the evening(s) when your child has an activity after school – especially if you are doing the driving that day. If not, even having a healthy, light snack on hand when you pick up your child, helps avoid episodes of hunger-induced crankiness.
As parents, we all want the best for our children – and that includes enriching, fun activities outside the classroom. A few sensible strategies, smart tools, and collaboration with others, can help ensure these experiences are rewarding for all.