When the time came for my oldest daughter to start playing sports, I was all about it. Makayla, now in the eighth grade, has played volleyball for four years. She plays on her school team, as well as a club league during the off-season, and practices three times a week. As a mom, it was important for me to keep a good balance for my family as sports and activities grew in our lives.
For us, a big part of balancing our schedules is making sure we have ample time for schoolwork, church activities and family time. It all adds up fast, so I came up with the following three simple tips that helped me balance everything as a mom raising busy kids.
1. Don’t be afraid to say no.
As parents, we don’t have to say, “yes” to everything. We want our kids to be the best they can be and to try new things, but sometimes it can just be overwhelming and start to affect other parts of your life. When my daughter’s volleyball club team added a fourth optional practice, I felt strongly that my daughter needed time for schoolwork, family and church during the week, and we just couldn’t commit to more. I admit, I was a little hesitant to email the coach because in the eyes of a coach, even an optional practice is important. However, I received the most encouraging and supportive email back from our coach. We felt great about the decision we made and to know we can set boundaries for our family.
2. Choose balanced programs.
This is different for every family and child. It seems most kids these days play on club or travel teams, in addition to school sports. There are so many options out there, but finding a program that understands there is a balance for kids was crucial to our decision in picking a club for my daughter. As an example, we didn’t want our daughter penalized or benched for missing a practice for a family event. Finding a program that emphasizes family, school and fun is very important.
3. Discuss commitment — as a family.
It’s always a family discussion before the new season starts, because it impacts us all. Talk about the benefits of the activity versus the cost to your family in money, time and energy. It’s also important to talk about the things your family will miss out on because of the activity and whether those experiences are so important that you need to find time for them in your schedule.
Sara Carnes is co-host of the Family Friendly Morning Show with Len Howser every weekday from 6-9 a.m. on 95.5 The Fish. She and her husband Russ are raising their two daughters,
Makayla and Reagan, right here in Northeast Ohio.