Self care. It’s the latest buzzword, basically telling the world that they need to stop and take care of themselves in order to be available to take care of others. When it comes to self care for the sports parent, you’re talking a whole different game. For months out of the year, we sports parents are at the whim of the league schedule. Some of us are lucky enough to have an off season, and some have to fit in the time around the edges.
And let me just say, there are pros and cons to both.
When you are always on the go, there is no adjustment period. You just accept that until your child decides to change sports, or gets old enough to manage their own sports schedule, you will be busy. For those people, here are five ways to take care of you while your child enjoys their sport:
- Bring something you love to do to the rink. For me, this is easy, I just bring a book. I’ve seen other moms bring a knitting project. If you have a hobby you can easily transport, then bring it with you. No reason you cant enjoy your pursuits while your child enjoys theirs.
- Bring a chore/task to do. One fellow hockey mom would bring a cookbook or two, some store flyers and her calendar and plan out meals for the week during practice. Genius. Frees up time at home for stuff like watching a movie or playing an instrument. Stuff that isn’t compatible with the hockey rink (or soccer field, or swimming pool, whatever venue your sport calls home).
- Get in some activity of your own. We all know that we’re supposed to be active daily. And between the constant rush of parenting, that often gets shoved down to the bottom of the list. A friend of mine uses the treadmill while her daughter swims. Not for every practice, but even twice a week makes a difference to her. If it weren’t so stinking cold or so stinking early when I bring a boy to hockey, I might consider going for a walk during hockey practice. For those of you that don’t mind such things, that’s an option.
- Treat yo’self. I implemented this particular practice mid season this year. When the opportunity presented itself to buy a tea on my way to the next practice, I did. And I enjoyed watching practice that much more with a tea to sip along with the ice show. Hey, you could even double this up with number one and get yourself a new book to bring to the rink.
- Trade off with another parent. This one comes to me courtesy of Scouts. My oldest goes one night a week and there is a rotating carpool list. It means that one week out of four, we’re driving a van full of kids to Cubs. Not a bad trade and it means the rest of the parents get a break from the driving. In terms of sports, it would give parents a night away from the rink or field or pool.
Now, off season. It has the opportunity for a little more drastic measures. Of course, there are plenty of kids that want to go from one sport to another. Nothing wrong with that, and I refer you back to the above mentioned five points. If there’s no off season, you roll with the punches and take care of you when and how you can. But if you are lucky enough to have an off season, here’s some things you can do to recharge the batteries (and fill the void left in the schedule).
- Book a dinner date with friends. Or several dinner dates. If you have people outside of hockey, there’s a good chance you haven’t seen enough of them during the season. Spend some time reminding yourself that you exist outside of the hockey rink.
- I’ve got two words for you: spa time. Whether it’s a massage, a manicure or a pedicure (or all three!), it’s a great way to unwind. Or recharge. It’s like the treat yo’self point above, but you don’t have to shuffle it between practices or games now, so you might actually unwind.
- Take a day. Do not leave your house. Wallow in a warm coffee and a book. Bonus points if your day at home includes a nap for you.
- Book a family trip. Every year once all the end of the year parties are over and the season is truly wrapped up, we try to take a road trip to somewhere fun for us all. The hockey schedule doesn’t give us much breathing room and frankly, even if it did we would take the opportunity to stay home and enjoy some downtime. But it’s a whole other thing when the season is done and we’ve had a chance to take a good deep breath (see point #3)
- Take up a sport for yourself. Or a fitness challenge. If you’re anything like me, just about everything takes a back seat to my kids’ sports during their season. It has to. But off season? I try to get back to running. Or my bootcamp class. Something for my health and happiness.
So there you go. Self care for the sports parent, both on and off season. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to pick something from the list and indulge.
See you at the rink,