Sports, in some ways are a rite of passage for children. It may start as just something to keep them active (or out of trouble), but can eventually turn into a passion of theirs. UH-OH! With all the practicing, games, and workouts, it seems that you as a mom are missing out on valuable “you time”. You love your family and want your kid to be the best athlete, but you also know you need time to decompress and care for yourself. How do you create an environment for them while still making time for your own personal development?
You do that by keeping the main thing the main thing. Stay with me here. When you are considering enrolling your child in sports keep these things in mind. These will help you nurture a fine athlete AND maintain sanity while doing it.
Everything might not get done
One school of thought is to meticulously plan every second of your day. Not only is that exhausting, it’s not sustainable. The reality is some things are more important and other things won’t get done. That’s OK. If your child has practice, but you also have to pick up the dry cleaning, go to the store for dinner, write a report for work, etc., look at these and say “This isn’t going to get done today, and that’s OK”. The world will still turn if you leave the dry cleaning for tomorrow. The main thing in this situation is your family.
Your kid probably isn’t going pro
This one might sting a bit, but hear me out. Roughly 2% of college athletes make it to the pro level. Yes, there are the Lebron James’s of the world, but they are few and far between. Evaluate WHY you want your child to play sports. Do you want them to develop leadership skills, learn how to work in team settings, build character and discipline, or get a scholarship to college? The main thing here is the WHY. Why do you want them to be better athletes? They can still be kids and develop all the dimensions of their personality and be great athletes… which leads me to my next point.
If your children are having fun, they will be better athletes
Child therapist Melissa Lambert wrote a great article about youth sports and stress. In summary, children that are stressed don’t perform as well as those that are having fun playing sports.
“We know stress and anxiety exist among everyone, however with the increased demands put on our youth and decreased time for free play there is a greater risk for sports to become another demand rather than enjoyable.”
Does that mean you don’t take it seriously and everything is a game? No. Sports should have their proper place in the child’s life though. If they are having a good time, they are more likely to want to practice on their own. If they feel like it’s a chore, they will draw back from it.
Quality training vs. quantity
A part of being a great athlete is being healthy. More training isn’t always best when it comes to creating good athletes. Children are still growing and developing. They often have poor technique (initially) and muscle imbalances, so overtraining can lead to overuse injuries that follow them throughout their athletic career. Children should play a variety of sports and wait to specialize closer to high school. I know you want them to be the best, but the repetitive motion of a year round schedule of the same movements does more harm than good. They should have quality sessions with teams or training professionals AND have adequate amounts of sleep, down time (off seasons), and good nutrition.
Self-sacrifice isn’t noble
There is this badge of honor that some moms carry around with pride. They say things like “I sacrifice so much for my kids” or “I don’t have time to exercise because I’m too busy with family stuff.” Consider this, who is going to suffer the most if you have low energy because you don’t make time to exercise? How kind are you going to be to your spouse and kids if you have pinned up stress? That’s right, give yourself a break! You need time for yourself and here’s how you get it. If you work, use your lunch break to get in a quick workout or jog. While your kids are at practice, have a quiet moment of meditation (or yoga) in the car or private area of the gym/field. Do exercises with your spouse. Make a game of it and text each other a different exercise that can be done in 30 seconds. It is all about creativity and keeping the main thing the main thing.
Shannon M. Carlisle is the founder and content creator of Exathlete. She encourages athletes to prepare for tomorrow today and use sports as a springboard for success. Exathlete is a MINDSET not a status. She does her thing on IG and FB @Exathlete22