Managing your children’s sporting schedule

BY GORDON MACLELLAND

Gordon MacLelland is the CEO and founder of Working with Parents in Sport, which supports parents and coaches in working together to provide children with the best possible sporting experiences.

We all need more time. Managing our own workload and organising our children at times can be overbearing. The hustle and bustle ends one day, then the stress creeps in about the next. Many parents spend most days with a list of jobs that need to be completed, places to be and deadlines to be met.

This is before we take into account our children’s sporting schedule, made even more complicated if you have more than one child and their commitments are in different places, often at similar times.

So how can we make this experience as stress free as possible. Many parents who have been through this will tell you that staying organised and one step ahead is the key. Using Google Calendar or another electronic calendar is useful to put your children’s training and matches in as soon as you have them. Use different colours for different members of the family so that you can have a visual image of the commitments for that week and month for both you and your children.

The advantage of using Google Calendar is that you can also share it with other people who may be involved in the process. For example, you may have grandparents and family friends helping with pick-ups and drop offs and this allows them to see the schedule as well. When you make changes, updates are instantly available for all to see.

Taking advantage of the ever-changing technological advances seems like an obvious move for sports parents. The days of adding to the 11×8 calendar hanging on the refrigerator are not completely over, but it makes much more sense if you’re away from home to instantly plant something to the weekly calendar via your smart phone, eliminating the chance to forget about it when you finally make it home after a long day.

Your children also need to be part of the process. Speak to them about communicating effectively anything they may have heard at the club or have been told by a coach. With all the duties parents face on a daily basis, children need to play their part reminding us about the change of practice venue or rescheduled matches.

Being proactive and requesting your child’s fixtures as soon as they are available can also help with planning. Speak to your child’s coach and explain that you will do your best to get your child to everything, that last minute changes whilst perhaps being unavoidable, can cause a lot of problems at your end. Coaches have a responsibility to be proactive in their communication as well. Ensure any changes are made immediately to the calendar. In our busy lives it is easy to leave something and then forget about it later on.

The colourful array of entries will also highlight when you are free. Make good use of this time as a family, plan something a bit different. At the end of the day, no matter how much we enjoy it we do not want to become a slave to our children’s sport, there may be other family members to think about. If logistics become difficult, there is always the option of trying to share lifts with other parents on your children’s team who will probably face similar struggles to you.

Many families will have to divide and conquer. Mum in one direction and dad in another. Stay in touch with each other, find out what is happening at the other end and when you have all finished try and have a meal together to catch up on everybody’s events, this is something that can often go out of the window amongst all the chaos.

As parents if you are heading in different directions, you will probably need to think about sharing out who goes with who so that one parent is not missing too many of one child’s game vs. another.

In terms of your children’s equipment, a supply of emergency snacks, clothes, waterproofs etc are always useful to have in your car for whenever the situation may arise. My own wife has taken kit organisation to a whole new level (and asked me to include this) with fabric drawers for every child for every day of the week. At the beginning of the week, she puts all the clothes in the correct drawer, that they require for each event, washes them on their return and restocks for the next occasion.

There is a lot to think about, we hope that you have found some useful advice in here. Organising your children’s sporting schedule can be busy, it can be stressful, but it can also be very enjoyable.

Be organised, stay ahead of the game and where possible plan other fun family events around your children’s sporting schedule, that allow you to keep a healthy sense of perspective. Good luck!