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13 Hacks To Ease The Mental Load Of Being A Sports Mom

Because of course you’re responsible for knowing where their shin guards are.

So you registered your kid for a sport and now you’re officially an “insert sport here” mom. While you probably already got the perfect t-shirt to wear for your kids’ games and have the schedule stuck right there on the fridge, there’s a lot to come with this new phase of parenthood, and being a sports parent can be a little overwhelming. From all of the driving and commitments to making sure your kid feels safe, works hard, and has fun at their activity, there’s a lot going on, and having some tips for kids in sports is essential. Below is a list of some of the best parenting tips and hacks from real sports parents who have been exactly where you are right now — either freezing or boiling as you watch a chaotic soccer game take up your entire Saturday.

And truly, it doesn’t matter if you’re a dance mom, a baseball mom, a fencing mom — all of it requires a whole new level of responsibilities. Truly, it is a joy to watch your kids enjoy a new activity and find their “thing,” but there’s also a lot to think about, like making sure uniforms are clean (no, not that jersey, we’re wearing the other one this week) and water bottles are filled and everyone’s actually eaten something with sustenance before they head off to practice. (Drive-thrus are still your friend, don’t feel like you have to let them all go.) But with a little extra prep work and these tips, you can do more than just survive this season of life — you can thrive.


Store uniforms & practice clothes in a central location.

Don’t let those jerseys go upstairs. Don’t send the soccer socks to your kid’s laundry basket or even that super specific t-shirt they like to wear to practice. In our house, we wash all the sports clothes, pull them right out of the dryer, and store them in a basket in the laundry room. The kids know they’re there, my husband knows they’re there, nobody ever has to go digging through piles of laundry to find the purple jersey or the black shorts — it’s all just there.


Fill water bottles in the morning and keep in the fridge.

Staying hydrated is clearly the most important part of sports prep, and I’ve found that filling my kids’ water bottles in the morning and storing them in the fridge so they’re nice and cold by the time practice or their game starts is so helpful. It also means as we’re running out the door, there is no “Omg where are the water bottles, we need to fill them,” etc. Someone can just grab them out of the fridge.


Get a bag for all sports accessories.

Shin guards, tap shoes, swim goggles — whatever your kid needs for their sport, just keep it all together. Older kids might have a bag already to store their things in for after-school practices, but even for little kids, just grab a tote bag and drop in all the things they need. You can even store it in the car if you want so you never have to look for it before practice.


Slow cooker dinners are your friend.

There’s truly nothing worse than spending $30 a night on dinner out because practice is right at supper time. Plan ahead a bit and throw a slow cooker meal together for those busy practice nights, so whether you eat before or after practice, you don’ t have to do a lot of extra work.


Get your kids dressed in their uniform at least 30 minutes before you need to leave.

I know, it feels too early, but chances are you’re not going to be pulling out the slime or a big ketchup-covered hot dog 30 minutes before game time, so just go ahead and get them dressed. That way by the time you’re ready to leave, it’s just grabbing shoes and their gear and you’re out the door.


Keep a pair of easy-to-wear shoes in the car.

Finished a baseball game and want to go grab some dinner, but realize your kid only has their cleats on? Avoid them slipping and busting their face open in the Dairy Queen (or tracking mud everywhere) and keep a pair of flip-flops, sandals, or other easy-to-wear shoes in the car for a fast change. That way you can run to the store, grab some dinner, or meet up with friends somewhere without worrying about their cleats.


Keep a garbage bag in the car for especially filthy uniforms.

My mother-in-law shared this one with me after raising two football-playing sons — keep a garbage bag in the car to throw your child’s filthy uniforms into before they even get in their seat. Sweaty jerseys, muddy socks, grass-stained pants — whatever’s happening, you can keep in a bag to save your car seats and make it easier to just throw straight in the wash. (Bring a change of clothes for them, too, obviously.)

You can even make them stand in the bag to take off especially heinous cleats, too.


Always have a big box of chips or snacks and waters in the car.

This is mostly for your kids, but let me tell you — it’s also supremely helpful to just keep pantry-safe goods in the trunk of your car in case you realize five minutes before the game ends that you’re the snack parent this week. Then you’re all set!


Invest in nice gear for yourself, too.

Whether it’s a really great canvas chair with a canopy, a nice big sun hat to protect your own face during those long baseball games, or a coffee thermos that actually keeps your beverage warm at an 8 a.m. rainy soccer game, you deserve nice sports gear, too. Pack thins that keep you comfortable and make sure you’re taking care of you during these practices and events.


Keep a bag of essentials in the car.

And by essentials, I mean things like sunscreen, bug spray, extra hair ties, a first aid kit, maybe an extra mouthguard or two — the little things that make a big difference in how well your kid plays and how they feel during their practice or game. Just throw it all into a little makeup bag and keep it in the console of your car in case anybody needs anything.


Seriously, get yourself a good blanket or coat.

It can get awfully cold hanging out on the sidelines, so bundling and layering is necessary. Invest in a good coat or even a nice, heavy blanket.


Get layers for your kids in their team’s colors.

Trust me — we live in Georgia where it gets warm fast, but those early spring soccer mornings are cold. So that your child isn’t wearing a jacket during a game or rushing to find something to match, go ahead and order some long-sleeved tees and other warm layers in their team colors so they can just throw them on under their jersey or shorts.


Have a bag of entertainment for younger siblings.

There are few things more stressful than chasing a small child at a big child’s sporting event and missing all of the action, so do whatever you have to in order to keep your littlest one entertained. (Don’t sleep on roping in grandparents for help either.) Pack a bag with toys, snacks, even their tablet or iPad, whatever it takes for them to just chill so you can actually enjoy the game.

Of course there are tons of other pieces of advice for sports families, like encouraging your child to try their best and letting the coaches do the coaching, but hopefully these specific hacks will help you with the mental load that is practice nights and game days.