Another travel sports season is kicking off! Parents are scrambling to make travel plans for tournament weekends. Kids are working hard, hoping to have a starting spot in the next big game. Club sports are tons of fun for the whole family but can be stressful due to the time commitment and travel requirements. If you’re facing a season as a travel sports mom (or dad!), here are a few simple tips to help you survive the season, minimize stress, and keep everyone smiling.
Always Pack Carefully
At the start of the season, make an equipment checklist for your child’s sports bag, plus a packing list for yourself. Be sure that every single thing you need to bring is included on the list, no matter how mundane or natural it seems to bring it, then check carefully that you have packed each item and each bag has made it into the car. There’s nothing worse than pulling up to a field that is three hours from home only to discover that the bat bag is still on the porch or those uniform socks are still in the dryer.
Consider the Whole Family
Naturally, the main focus of a tournament weekend is on the athlete and their competitions. However, many of us have other children that have to come along for the ride and they need a bit of attention, too.
- Pack a go-bag with plenty of activities to keep kids entertained while they’re at the field. Video games, card games, coloring books, and reading materials are must-have items.
- Once you have your competition schedule, look for some downtime that will allow you to take everyone on a family outing. Groupon or similar deal sites are a great resource for finding local attractions and saving a little money to boot.
- If practice and game schedules are just too tight or siblings are too young for the disruption in routine, swap off parenting responsibilities. One parent can travel with the athlete while the other entertains siblings at home, then trade off for the next event.
- If other arrangements are available, don’t require siblings to travel along to every competition. Find friends and family who are willing to host them for the weekend and make your athlete the center of your attention on tournament trips, now and then.
Make Healthy Food Choices
One of the most challenging things when it comes to travel sports is avoiding the fast food trap. Three days of concession stand hot dogs, French fries, and the like can wreak havoc on anyone’s body. Multiply this by several weekends per season and you have a recipe for disaster. Coolers filled with healthier snack options, like cut fruit and veggies, can help you cut down on the junk. If your hotel room has a mini-fridge, consider a trip to the local grocery to pick up lunch meat or salad makings and pack lunches for the cooler as well.
Don’t Skimp on Sleep
While many of us have more relaxed schedule rules when traveling, a tournament weekend is not the time for staying up late, just for fun. Make sure athletes and spectating siblings (and you!) get the sleep that they need to make it through the long days at the park. Have an early or late game? Take that into consideration when making travel plans and check in a day early or come home a day later, whenever possible.
Sports teams are one of the best examples of the “It takes a village” mindset. Get to know the other parents and kids on the team and encourage your children to do the same. Teams are like extended families, with everyone lending a hand and looking out for each other. You and your non-athletes will have friends to pass the time with, plus you will have someone to turn to when you need help getting everyone to games or practices. You will quickly find that with all the time you spend together, these families will become among your closest friends.
Travel sports moms have a lot on their plate, but with some careful thought and solid planning, you can survive the busy-ness of practice season and long weekends of tournaments. And both you and your children will create amazing memories that will last a lifetime.
Guest post: Shannan Powell is a full-time work at home mom with a home overflowing with testosterone. She spends her days trying to find the balance between wife, mom of three, and stepmom of one, while maintaining her career as a freelance writer and influencer marketing campaign manager. Shannan began her work at home life more than a decade ago, following the birth of her second child. She lives with her husband and their boys near the Delaware coast. Connect with her on Twitter and Instagram to follow her family’s adventures.