Fields, pitches, courses, courts, outfields, tracks, and pools-welcome to the road trip marathon also known as afternoon sports activities. As a mother of four sons, I have been driving a moving locker room on wheels for well over a decade now. With a trunk full of rackets, clubs, bats, and balls of all sorts, and a car full of little people ready to wield them, our days have certainly qualified us as an on-the-go family. What keeps mom and kids happy and the sports motorcade running smoothly on all cylinders? I have found five must dos when caravanning around my own personal little league.
1. A homework station in the car
Driving to practices and games and/or waiting in the car gives kids and siblings plenty of time to get school work done. We keep a zippered pouch packed with pens, pencils, tape, erasers, small ruler, markers or crayons, scissors, and a glue stick in the car at all times. We keep ours in the pocket behind the passenger seat, as well as a clipboard under the seat to act as a hard surface for lap writing. A spiral notebook with easy tear away pages can supply looseleaf paper when needed. If kids need wifi for homework, a good tip is settling into parking lot of a fast food chain, coffee shop, or retail store that offers free wifi and using theirs.
2. Share drink and snack duty with teammates
On the go means planning and packing enough provisions to make it through the afternoon’s practices and games. In case the coach doesn’t already arrange this (and we appreciate it when you do- hint hint) get with other moms and coordinate sharing hydration and food duties during the season. This really takes the burden off needing to be duly prepared every afternoon with fuel for active kids. If everyone takes a week during the season, everyone reaps the benefits.
3. Invest in a great cooler
Yes, if you have highly active kids, it’s time to drop a few bucks on a high end quality cooler that will last for years to come. Having cold drinks and healthy fruits and other perishable items are a must to avoid succumbing to the dreaded drive-thru. A great cooler will also eliminate melted ice watery messes on your food and in your car, and is also great for hauling frozen food items, meats, and dairy items home from the grocery, especially if you have a detour (like a game) on your way home. We basically keep a cooler in the trunk at all times for this reason. Don’t worry about hauling bags of ice out of the store, drive up ice machines are popping up all over the place, and usually for a buck or two you can load up ice directly into your cooler.
4. Plan, lists, prepare
You’ve heard it before, but planning what you will need in the car for the week’s activities does make a huge difference. Have kids make their own sports equipment check lists for the week, hang in garage, and as they load what they need into the car they can check it off the list. Keep a spare change of clothes for every kid in a garbage bag in the trunk. That way if they are caught in a storm during a practice or game, they can have dry clothes for the ride home, and wet clothes can go right back into the garbage bag. Also, keep a few towels in the car as well or this same reason. In lieu of popcorn and ballpark nachos, plan a few nights during the season to have pizza delivered directly to a game or practice that you know will run late, and ask other parents to join you and split the cost.
5. Don't be shy, ask for help
This one took me a while to embrace, but after that fourth kid it became a necessity. If you are “on the go” constantly, so is someone else, so share the duties. Don’t be shy, walk right up to that family at the game you’ve seen season after season, and offer to carpool. Don’t be afraid to ask a friend to watch over practice this time while you run to the grocery, even asking if there is something she needs while you are there. I have never had a fellow sports mom refuse help when offered, and not be more than willing to help in return. We are all in this together, and not only does it take a team of kids to win games, it takes a village of their mothers to keep them IN the game. Trying to be the “superhuman do it all by myself on the go mom” will score you no points. But helping others and allowing them to help you makes everyone feel like winners.