Being a sports parent can be a full-time job. If you have multiple kids, or a kid playing multiple sports it can consume a lot of your time. If you are not careful coaching can eat up your family time. Balancing the time is vital for you to be the best parent and sports parent you can be.
It is a light season for me and my family right now, as I am only coaching one of our kids teams. Although it is only one sport, many weeks we have three days of commitments between practice and games. Not to mention, my kids are involved in more activities than sports.
A mutual love of sports
Homeschooling activities, clubs, church, and the need to have some free time to do whatever they want, can literally take up our entire week. The problem is I love sports. I love the fact my kids love sports. And I love being involved as much as I can with their sports. If I am not careful, I can become out of balance leaning heavily to the youth sports activities of my kids.
Why is this a concern?
Just like most of us sports parents and coaches, playing sports will end at some point for our kids. What happens then? Yes, there are plenty of life lessons to be learned playing sports. Yes, many times you get to spend quality time with your kids during the sporting activities. But when it all stops, will there be a void?
When the ball stops bouncing
My wife and I occasionally discuss our life after our kids leave. As a parent your kids take up a lot of your time, focus, and life! I’ve heard countless stories of marriages failing after the one thing(s) they spent most of their time and energy with is gone. The same is possible with coaching and sports parenting.
When that ball stops bouncing, being kicked, or thrown do you have other things you and your kids spend time with?
What if they quit, well before you intended for them to quit. Will problems in your relationship come as a result?
I am out of balance. How do I get in balance?
As I said before I can easily get out of balance without realizing it. But the more intentional I am about it all, the better I am at remaining in balance. I have noticed a few things which help me keep things in perspective and balance when it comes to family life and sports parenting.
- Know your why. Why are your kids playing and why have you volunteered to coach? Sometimes we lose site of it all. It can become about bragging rights. It can be about getting the most exposure for your kid. It can become about keeping up with the Jones in your neighborhood or circle. It can be because you got cut from the team as a kid. Know, and check, your reasons for you and your kids involvement. Have the reasons changed, and are they the right reasons?
- Do other activities provide something similar? If spending time with your kids is your reason, there may be other ways to get this family time. In today’s youth sports world AAU, travel team, and year-round sports can cost a lot in time and money. If you are reading the CoachUp blog then you love sports so much that not many other things do what sports does for you, just like me. That is great. However, make sure your kids are exposed and involved with other things.
- Plan ahead. Have you considered what will happen when your kids stop playing, or you stop coaching. How will that look? Going back to your why, what do you want to happen as a result of your kids playing sports and you being involved. Maybe that family vacation which gets put off every year due to travel ball, should be a priority. It could be an additional memory builder, the fun activity everyone looks forward to after the ball stops bouncing.
- Take a break. Rest is necessary in all things. We are encouraged to take a day or two off from work each week. Employers give employees vacation time. Schools have a summer break. Professional athletes have an off season. Make sure you are taking a break from it all. I understand when one sport ends the next is usually beginning with little, if any, time between. However, to balance your family life and avoid burn out for your kids, be intentional about taking breaks.
- Always have fun. Sports are fun, and should always be fun. Most kids playing youth sports dream of “playing games” for their jobs one day like their sports heroes do. Make sure you are always having fun, and your kids are too. When it stops being fun, it may be time to look at #1 again, and see if it is time to find something else. In addition find various ways to have fun, although I am sure you’ll always lean toward sports and physical activity. Which is a good thing, especially when kept in balance.
Family life will continue
If you are a sports parent either through coaching, or watching your kids sports I encourage you to keep some balance between sports and family life. Be well rounded.
The other activities may also benefit them in sports. No matter what happens to sports, or other activities, your family and the memories will remain.
Question: How do you balance family life, coaching, and your kids sports?
Jackie Bledsoe, Jr. writes a Family Leadership blog at jackiebledsoe.com. He is a sports parent of three, has played sports for over 30 years, including the collegiate level, and coached youth sports for the past eight years. You can connect with him on Facebook and Twitter (@jbledsoejr).