It’s my 12 year old son’s last season of little league and I am feeling a little nostalgic. My baby boy is growing up. My hubby had to convince me that signing our son up for team sports was a good thing, so it’s surprising to me that I am the one getting all emotional about it now. I never grew up playing team sports, (which is a shame really because I am built like a basketball player), and I couldn’t see the point. Swimming lessons, now THAT I could get behind. Learning to swim could potentially save him from drowning. Team sports, I imagined, would suck the life force out of me. I could not have been more wrong. Becoming a little league mom has been totally life-giving.
What I’ve Learnt Since Becoming a Little League Mom
- Your kid will make new friends and so will you. Are there crazies out there? You bet, but there are also many other lovely parents like yourself who enjoy having a buddy to cheer with from the sidelines. You’ll get to know people well, especially if your child goes on to play more competitively. You’ll end up spending a good chunk of time together at tournaments and carpooling to games further away. If you are lucky, you will be invited to join the, ahem,”red cup club” where I met some of my closest little league mom friends (go figure!).
- Whether you are a little league mom, soccer mom, or any-other-team-sport mom, there is a LOT of eating on the fly. If you have a 5:30pm practice time or a 6:00pm game on the other side of town you will hear yourself say ad nauseum “HURRY UP AND EEEEEEAT!” Having a meal plan and ingredients prepped ahead of time is a lifesaver. Save time by cooking with leftovers in mind! Cook once, eat three times is my motto.
- There are long periods of waiting around either while your player is at practice or the pre-game warm up. It’s a great opportunity to answer emails, knit, read, workout, go for coffee, blog, etc. Many parents I know use this time to get in their 10,000 steps. If you can consider this time as “Me Time”, instead of time you’ll never get back, you will be much happier. This is especially true if you are a hockey mom with 6:00am “Me Time”. Surrender, Sister. Surrender.
- Watching your child play sports is way more fun than you can imagine! Despite the fact your child may not be particularly skilled, if they’re having a good time, it is truly a joy to see.
- Coaching from the sidelines is not cool. Let the coaches coach. After the game, instead of giving your kid pointers, think of some positive things you can say. “I could tell you were having fun out there.”, “I could see you were really going for it!”or “I love watching you play” does more for their confidence than any instructions you can give. Get real. Most of our kids are not going pro. It’s about having fun. Hopefully we’re helping them find something they can enjoy and keep them active well into adulthood.
They Don’t Have to be Athletic
- Even if you and/or your child are not athletically inclined, your child will learn tons of life skills. Several may or may not have anything to do with sports. They will learn to develop coordination, balance, flexibility, agility and improve their fitness level. They’ll also learn valuable lessons like teamwork, problem solving, patience, sportsmanship, leadership, perseverance, etc. One of my son’s favourite coaches said, “We’re teaching them not to be a$$holes.” He was one of my favourites too.
- The biggest reason I am a huge fan of team sports now is this:
Your child will learn an appreciation for what their body can do…which is far more important than how their body looks.
I highly encourage you to put your child in a variety of sports. See which ones they love the most. Even if you are not familiar with the sport your child wants to try, think of it as an opportunity to learn together. I can honestly say my entire family’s life is richer because of my child’s involvement. I’m betting yours will be too.
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AndreaJuly 11, 2016 at 8:51 am
Love, love, love this!
If you have a child with a disability, ask your local programs about what supports they offer. UBC making Waves offers free 1:1 swim lessons. Phoenix has supported gymnastics. Community centres often also offer extra supports if you ask in advance. And Jumpstart, KidSport and other programs can help with fees. There’s also the Leisure Access program at community centres.
You may not even realize your child has a disability that entitles them to supports. A child who is anxious, has coordination struggles, has trouble tracking a ball, seems clumsy, struggles with staying in line or paying attention, can’t stand the feel of the helmet or uniform, doesn’t catch social cues and so on may have an invisible disability. Or maybe your child does have a diagnosis, but you thought supports were only for visible disabilities. Ask around! There are human rights protections but most other parents and coaches who really care will try to help.
Just posting, in case another parent finds that they can’t figure out why it’s so easy for others. I wish I’d known we qualified for help earlier, so that I could have got into the game sooner!
Dee ClarkeJuly 11, 2016 at 11:06 am
Thank you Andrea for your thoughtful and super helpful comment. I do believe we, as a community, should make it possible for everyone to participate. The benefits are too great not to. Thank you for sharing these resources.
Sandra Vander SchaafJuly 11, 2016 at 2:13 pm
Great post, Dee!
Dee ClarkeJuly 11, 2016 at 2:39 pm
Thank you and thank you for taking the time to comment.
Sandra BJuly 11, 2016 at 11:16 pm
Really enjoyed reading this post Dee. I always felt sorry for the “little league parents” and the “soccer moms”, but you’ve convinced me it can be fun for the parents too! I’m also a “cook once, eat three meals” kinda gal. I feel ya.
Dee ClarkeJuly 12, 2016 at 5:48 am
Thanks Sandra! You know, I think the parent volunteer duties, the cold hockey rinks, the early mornings, the rainy soccer fields, the chauffeuring all over town, etc. are all something to complain about for sure. But I also think that suffering is optional. I remember on more than one occasion thinking I needed to pinch myself. I used to be so carefree and have tons of free time. Now I am raking a baseball field. haha! For our family, the joys far outweigh the inconveniences. I acknowledge that having more than one kid in team sports is even trickier to juggle, but the parents I have become close with wouldn’t trade it for anything.