YES! I am a crazy soccer mom!
Well, minus the minivan – I drive a Pilot ;).
Oh, and add a couple sports.
I am that mom.
The one who lives out of her car. The one who has a back seat and hatch full of balls, cleats, uniforms, and sports equipment. The one who lives in the drive-thru grabbing those in-between meals. The one who screams on the sidelines and bombards social media with photos.
Sports in our home started when my oldest, Asher, who is now 8, was only 2 years old. Soon after, my son Axton, now 6, started at age 2. From that moment on, my entire schedule revolved around sports.
First, it was just soccer. It was the only sport that allowed kids to play at age 2. So every Saturday morning, we would spend our days at the soccer field. They were never on the same team or in the same age league for that matter, so Saturdays and Sundays became even more hectic the older they got. I would find myself walking from field to field with chairs, blankets, snacks, and bags. Some days, I would place myself in the middle of two fields because they both had games at the same time, or find a way to watch half of one game and then gather my belongings and make it to the second half of the other. Some days, we wouldn’t have big enough breaks to go home in between games, so we found ourselves having picnics of fast food in the car waiting for the next game to begin.
I had become a true soccer mom. I spent most of my Spring and Fall being just that. And honestly, I loved it. I still love it. I love spending my weekends at the soccer field. I have loved watching my kids grow and develop over the years at something they love to do.
But remember, I am not just a soccer mom. Next, came baseball. What started off as t-ball quickly moved to rookie, and our weekends were split between the soccer field and the baseball field. At least they were both on the same team for baseball. Even still, we found ourselves changing uniforms in the car, changing out soccer cleats for basketball cleats, and rushing to make the first pitch. It was a constant rush, squeezing in food when we could. All the while, I loved every minute of it.
Next, was football. For a boy who learned to crawl by placing a football in front of him, I knew this sport was inevitable. My family questioned if I was crazy, allowing a 4-year-old to play three sports – if dedicating my weekends to traveling from field to field, sport to sport, was insane. Again, I found my car becoming loaded with more balls, shoes, and sports equipment. I found my weekends split between three fields now instead of two. Trying to make every single game, teaching him that his teams depended on him. As the schedule got tighter, we had to sacrifice one game for another, playing one half of soccer then rushing to finish the last three innings of baseball. Skipping Saturday’s soccer game for football, and Sunday’s baseball game for soccer.
And, as if I wasn’t crazy enough, we introduced another sport for each kid. As much as Axton adores football, he has always loved basketball. So, naturally, he said he wanted to sign up. Similarly, Asher has grown up around cheer, watching me coach for over a decade. So, of course we added another sport to the schedule. Luckily, basketball fell within its own season, so we weren’t rushing from field to court. However, Asher and Axton were again, like soccer, at different age levels. So that meant our Saturdays at the field were exchanged for spending them at a court, living on concession stand food. It consisted of sleeping on the bleachers, and doing homework while the other practiced during the week. More uniforms to line our bedroom floors. Soccer balls and football flags now were joined by pom poms and basketball gear.
Over the years, not much has changed. We were able to weed out baseball. However, we still have sports year round. We start the year with basketball, then comes spring soccer and football, cheer, and right around the corner fall soccer and football. Add in the fact that I have a step daughter with special needs, and a newborn baby. Life is hectic.
BUT, there is something about that organized chaos that gives my life meaning. I know it sounds crazy to ENJOY running from field to field to court and back again every single weekend. The truth of the matter is, I am not sure what I would be if I wasn’t a sports mom. I know there are several parents finding themselves in the same boat. Wanting to allow their kids to experience everything they can, but also avoiding absolutely losing their minds. Trying to juggle practices, games, doctor’s appointments, and other responsibilities. The truth is, I believe it is very beneficial for kids to play multiple sports.
There will come a time when Axton specifically will have to make a choice. He will have to focus down his interests to one or maybe two sports. He will not have the time to dedicate to multiple high school sports. For that, I allow him to experience them now. I want him to truly understand each individual sport and have a chance to grow and learn as much as he can before he has to make a choice. He quickly decided that baseball just wasn’t for him. As the years continue and I allow him to navigate through playing multiple sports, not only am I allowing him a chance to learn his favorites and develop his skills, I am also allowing him to learn one of the most important concepts of life – teamwork.
Axton is a natural athlete. He excels in almost anything that he tries. I love that he takes pride in his skills and works constantly at perfecting them. The discipline that he has learned by playing multiple sports is another reason why I am supportive. Every day, he is practicing in some way. Whether it’s shooting baskets in his goal until the sun goes down, dribbling a soccer ball around in the backyard, or running routes with his dad and step dad, he is always mastering his craft. This discipline also helps him in the classroom. Unlike his sister, who naturally excels in school, Axton has to work hard with academics, specifically reading. However, the competition and discipline he has learned through playing multiple sports allows him to push himself to constantly improve and reach his goals at school.
Another important aspect of playing multiple sports for both of my kids is to have good attitudes. In the world we live in, it is easy for kids to develop a sense of entitlement, especially if those kids have natural born talents such as Axton and Asher do. With that, as a mom, I am constantly encouraging my kids to stay humble. They understand the importance of remaining kind through competition, and to continuously give glory to God for their blessings.
Although playing multiple sports is important in developing a strong, disciplined, well rounded kiddo, it can be a difficult feat for us parents both physically and mentally, as well as sometimes financially. So, I would like to leave you with some applicable advice so that if you, like myself, find your life and cars to be full of sports equipment, you can start to experience the joy in the world of sports parenting.
Get a planner/calendar.
Not only do I encourage you to get a planner or print out a calendar to record every practice and/or game, but I encourage you to color code that planner. Each season, I color code practices and games for each kid. If Axton’s football team is the Ravens, then those games and practices are written in purple. If Asher’s soccer team is teal, then again her practice and game times show that. This has been a game changer for me. I can quickly look at my calendar and know in a single glance what uniform and equipment I need to pack, as well as where I need to plan to be.
Don’t put so much pressure on yourself.
I struggled with this at first. What am I saying, I still do. You cannot expect to make everything everytime or to be on time every single time. When you have a young child playing multiple sports across multiple seasons, schedules are going to run together at some point. It is a sacrifice that just has to be made. He/she will miss some. And that’s ok. They are only young once. Allow them to be involved in the conversation and decision making. If they missed soccer practice for football last time, then the next week they alternate. If they have cheer and soccer at the same time, help them understand decision making by choosing competition over just a game, or by choosing a tournament game over a season game. Not only are you teaching your kids the importance of dedication, you’re also teaching them a life lesson on making hard choices.
You don’t need the best of the best.
How many of you went out and bought a matching pink or blue ball, soccer cleats, and shin guards the moment your kid said, “soccer.” Or when baseball started you broke the bank to find the best bat, personalized helmet, and bat bag. #guilty. What parent doesn’t want their child to have the best? The truth is, it’s not necessary. Not now. There will come a time when matching team shoes, travel soccer dues, and specialized football pads will be needed, but now isn’t that time. Yes, buy what you NEED, but don’t feel obligated to buy the best. This also includes team photos. Who wants to drop $20-$30 every single sports season on a couple of team photos and wallet prints. Save the money, take your own pics. They will just end up in a keepsake tote in the attic.
Whether I find myself sitting on the bleachers at a football field, baseball field, or basketball court, or even in a folded chair at a soccer field, I find myself exactly where I want to be. Being a mom is the greatest position I will ever play in this crazy game of life. And with that comes sacrificing time and money for my children. I want them to experience everything. Every single lesson that comes from playing on a team. The winning. The losing. The discipline. The friendships. But most of all, the fact that I was there. They may never remember the score of the game, or the size of the trophy they received. But what they will remember is me, sitting there with their name on the back of my shirt.