This is a post from a few years ago, and now that two of my three kids are in college now, the advice is still very relevant and I can say, these strategies really do help. This post also contains affiliate links.
While my kids actually went back to school a few weeks ago, it seems like the rest of the area started school today and this is the first week all three of my kids have full-blown sports schedules. Three kids at three different schools doing three different sports after school is enough to make your head spin, but I have had a few years to perfect this and have some strategies that will help keep things running smoothly.
1. Put it all out there
Whether you use a whiteboard in the kitchen, traditional planners like the Erin Condren Life Planner or one of the many from momAgenda (pictured right), or any myriad of technology tools we now have access to, get the week and schedules on paper. Color code it, use pictures, or use any other method that works for you but post the schedule somewhere so you can refer back to it and other family members can reference it, too. The other thing I did this year is take advantage of one child's flexible schedule. My oldest has practice Monday and Wednesday after school until 5. My middle daughter has gymnastics on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. And my youngest is supposed to be at swim practice 3 days a week but they can choose their 3 days – so she will swim Monday, Wednesday, Friday so we can have two afternoons a week free (well, until my oldest's high school swim season starts in November.)
Let's face it, the price of gas is getting crazy and our time is valuable. Check with other team members and form carpools where ever you can. Not only will it save money and time, the social time is good for your kids, too. A few years ago we carpooled with a family for gymnastics – I picked the girls up from school and took them to gym and my friend brought them home. We found that the simple routine and expectation of your friend going too, got rid of any complaints of “I'm too tired”, “I don't want to go”, and similar episodes of whining. If you are going to carpool, make sure you do your best to pay attention to whose turn it is to drive, pick up times and be respectful of the schedules of others (as in try not to do last minutes schedule changes if possible).
3. Plan Meals
It is much healthier and more cost effective to feed your family at home than it is to go through the drive-thru window every other night. Take time over the weekend to plan your family's meals for the week – taking into account schedules and staggered eating times. On crazy sports nights I tend to do meals in the slow cooker or meals that can be easily reheated depending on when the kids will have time to eat. Planning also pertains to snacks. Plan healthy mini meals that you can pack for your athletes to eat before or after practice.
4. Walk That Fine Line
Let's face it, without parental involvement youth sports just could not thrive. We need team moms, volunteer officials and booster clubs, and we know that kids rely on us for positive support. Get involved, however, you don't want to be so involved that you are hovering over your child during practice, second guessing the coach or putting unnecessary expectations on your athlete. Don't get wrapped up in the emotions of the day to day journey of sports – this is a marathon, not a sprint. Plus your child and their coaches are going to have good days and bad days – just like you do.
So as crazy as some days can be, take a little time to get organized, divide and conquer, and then you will be able to enjoy your child's sports almost as much as they do!! If you have any strategies or techniques that you use to manage your children's sports schedules, feel free to share them with us in the comments below!