As a mom, you’re probably familiar with the smell of fresh cut grass and the frenzy of children chasing after a ball. Maybe you even go a step further. Many moms choose to be a team parent or attend every sporting event their son or daughter competes in as a way to show support and be involved in their child’s life. Others may find their competitive spirit comes alive by cheering on the teaming and serving fruit from the sidelines.
If you’re considering becoming a sports mom, whether it be little league, soccer, cheerleading, or peewee football, there are some considerations to take into account before donning a jersey or slicing those oranges. There’s a lot more that goes into managing a team than showing up with a smile and a bullhorn.
Make sure you’ve covered all of these aspects of team parenthood before you find yourself two cities away with a flock of feisty peewee footballers.
1. Make sure your child actually wants to participate in the sport. If your kid is new to chasing the soccer ball or throwing the pigskin, you may want to wait to see if they make their commitment long-term. This may mean waiting a season or two to see how the league operates and what the duties of team parent will be. Be sure you’re also aware of the benefits and drawbacks of childhood sports.
2. Ask questions about your duties before you sign up. Many team parents have to attend meetings beyond the regular practices and parties. If you have a hectic schedule, you may want to take your other obligations into account. You should also find out how long the team parent term is before you get stuck with a 3-year commitment.
3. Develop a rapport with the other parents. This will help you organize volunteers more easily and find a suitable substitute if you can’t attend a game or practice.
You may also need to establish a snack schedule and snack duty rotation. Your familiarity with parents will make communication easier and the system run smoother.
4. Brush up on your web development skills. As a team parent, you may be in charge of keeping the team’s website up-to-date. This can be a fun adventure if you like to test your skills on the computer. If you’re not quite as tech-savvy, you may want to enlist some additional assistance.
5. Create a Facebook for the team if they don’t already have one! This is a great way to share the pictures you take and the memories you’ll help create.
6. Be equipped to handle the equipment. This may mean ordering or transporting equipment to and from games. Be careful to avoid the politics of choosing jerseys and equipment. And be prepared to juggle hockey sticks, football pads, and more cones than you can imagine.
7. You may also have to handle collecting money from parents to cover the cost of their child’s gear, tournaments, and referees. This can be stressful for some parents, but make sure you don’t take any resentment personally, some parents struggle to keep up with the expense of sports.
8. You may even have to establish and help the team stick to a budget. If your parents pay for the season upfront, be prepared to manage that money and make sure it stretches to cover that season’s costs.
9. Find tournament locations and fields. You will also need to find lodging and restaurants nearby the tournament for the team. You may even want to find some fun downtime activities like water parks or movie theaters to keep restless kids occupied and out of trouble.
10. While it may not be an official requirement, make sure you keep notes on children’s allergies or medical conditions if you’re traveling without parents. This can really save some stress and keep the kids safe. You will also want to pack a spare first aid kit and keep it in your travel bag.
11. One aspect of being a team parent many moms don’t expect is dealing with parents’ or team drama. While you may want to get involved, try to only step in when required. You don’t want to create additional stress or drama or become the topic for gossip.
12. Bring the fun. You’re the kids’ biggest cheerleader. Make sure you always stay positive and support the team even when they struggle.
13. Think of fresh and exciting end-of-the-season activities to celebrate a successful season. This maybe Chuck-e-Cheese for the little ones or a local roller coaster park for preteens. You will also want to make sure this fits into the budget and will be acceptable for all the kids on the team.
14. Make sure the coach feel appreciates and receives some form of recognition. This may mean buying your coach a gift card or having the kids make a poster for him or her.
15. Encourage the kids to come back next season! Make sure all the little ones feel loved and welcomed. Be the smiling face that helps them find the courage to try out the following year or return to practice week after week.
If this sounds like being a soccer mom is more than you can handle, think of other creative ways to bonds with your kids. Considering hosting a family sports event or watch a championship together. You can even just volunteer to help for a game or two.
Being a team parent can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. Make sure you’re prepared for all the requirements and commitment it requires, though. Don’t forget to have fun and that you can make a huge difference in a child’s experience in a sport.