By Alex Flanagan
5 practices that will make you a better sports mom
Look on the bright side: I was up early this morning. Packing lunches, sending emails, inputting practice schedules on my calendar. While pouring my coffee in an almost pitch-dark kitchen at exactly 5:42 a.m., I was distracted by the sky. The rising sun filled the horizon with what our family calls pink lemonade clouds. I took a few minutes to watch the sun come up. The light pink colors gave way to brilliant purples and hot pinks until the sky was ablaze in color. It was inspiring and I was the only one, at least in my house that saw it. Here is the point. So much of our day is racing from one moment to the next – drop off, pick up, drive. We don’t live in the moment. In fact, we don’t even see the moment. Take a minute or two each and force yourself to admire or digest one little piece of beauty in your day. The shining sun at a baseball game, the hug between your two daughters after one missed a free throw and the other comes over to her in a show of support. The fact that you have a friend who actually cares enough about you that she’s willing to bring your son home from baseball practice for you. Life is filled with special; it’s up to us to see it.
Use your slow cooker: Few things in life are as rewarding as the aroma of an almost finished meal awaiting your arrival. I am giddy with myself the days I dedicate 15 or 30 minutes of my morning to prepare a dinner in my slow cooker. Not only does it make me a whole lot less stressed in the evening, but it does away with the guilt I feel for making a less healthy choice like serving cereal or a frozen pizza when I haven’t made a plan for dinner. Family meals are important. Lots of research shows kids benefit from sitting down together for a family meal at least a few times a week. Without a slow cooker, this is nearly impossible. My sister-in-law just gave me this great book (Skinnytaste Fast and Slow: Knockout Quick-Fix and Slow Cooker recipes) and I highly recommend the slow cooker chicken taco chili and the banh mi rice bowls.
Treat yourself to a subscription to Audible: I love to read, but have resisted listening to books on tape. I’m one of those, “I like to feel the pages and hold a real book” people. But my brother gave me a year subscription to Audible for my birthday last year and I had no choice but to try listening to books. I’m obsessed! I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to get lost in a great story while you are racing from one pick-up to another, even if it is only for 15 minutes. I don’t listen when the kids are in the car (you do need to concentrate, and listening to 50 Shades of Grey might permanently scar them), but I have a number of 15- or 20-minute stretches when I’m driving by myself from one drop-off to the next. I promise you, losing yourself in a story or learning from a self-help book will fulfill you so much more than yelling about the traffic or at your Siri because she’s butchered the text you are attempting to dictate for the 5th time. You might actually start to look forward to your afternoon driving marathon.
Occasionally miss your kid’s game: You don’t have to witness every single moment of your child’s youth sports career to be a good mom. It turns out not always being there might have some significant benefits, like your child will feel a greater sense of self-accomplishment, might actually have more fun and will likely listen to the coaching more effectively. Click here for a few other reasons you should miss your child’s game. Stop feeling guilty. Get back in the car and turn Audible back on.
Remind yourself of all the things that went right: It’s easy to re-hash all the things that went wrong in a day. You slept through your alarm. Hit all the red lights on your way to the gym, causing you to miss spin class. You missed a sign-up; your kids left their lunch on the kitchen counter; you forgot to pay a bill, spilled coffee all over your car and your new silk shirt. Too often we center on the negative, but how about all the bad things that didn’t’ happen to you today? You drove and didn’t’ get in a car accident; your children came home safe from school. No one got badly hurt. Our brains are hardwired to react strongly to negativity. Bad things have a larger impact on us, which makes it easier to hold onto the bad experiences instead of good ones. When you feel frustrated with yourself because you mixed up the time of your kid’s game or you are late to drop them off for practice because the dog ate one of their cleats, it’s OK. Remind yourself of a few things that went your way.
Alex Flanagan co-founded I love to watch you play in 2015. She was flying home from an NFL work assignment when a learning specialist, who was sitting next to her, shared 5 reasons she shouldn’t feel guilty missing her son’s game. She shared their conversation on her own website alexflanagan.com and the response was so overwhelming it inspired her to create ILTWYP to help parents like herself navigate youth sports.