Whether it’s travel, club, or varsity, it's no secret that athletes must practice solid time management skills. Advanced level play requires so much from both players and parents, it's easy to become overwhelmed and set the stage up for failure if their time isn’t managed efficiently. As with most things in life, establishing a plan is the best approach. However, between work, school, and sports, how can families implement a time management strategy that works?
Here are 6 Steps For Time Management In Youth Sports that can help keep your kids on track, and your family running smoothly.
Follow a Family Schedule
Create a master schedule and place it somewhere where it can easily be seen by everyone in the family, such as the kitchen or another central room in your home. This could be on a dry-erase board, trendy chalkboard, or just a traditional calendar. Be sure that is it large enough for all to see clearly. Once a week (typically Sunday evenings), jot down every event for the week, and their start times (be sure to allow for traffic and commuting). This should include practices, games, birthdays, parties, work, school events and other pertinent to-do’s.
Does everyone in the family have an electronic device? Download a scheduling app that everyone can connect to, and also update weekly or as needed.
Athlete's Weekly Schedule
Your athlete will need his or her own personal itinerary too. This one is separate from the family's, it's for them to stay up to date with their own responsibilities. Occasionally kids need to be reminded to take meal breaks, do their chores, or work on specific assignments in a tangible way. Getting your child's input on this is important. Sit with them and lay out all of their goals for the week. Show them how to prioritize, offering examples as to why certain things should be done before or after others. For instance, if there a school project due on Thursday, but a full sports schedule is expected Monday through Wednesday, perhaps working on it on Sunday afternoon may prove to be the best bet. Let your child add the tasks themselves so they can learn how to manage their own time.
It may be wise at the end of the week to revisit the agenda with them to determine whether things ran effortlessly, or if there needs to be more time allotted for one item or another, and make the proper adjustments for the next week's timetable.
Planning Meals Ahead
If you only follow one piece of advice from this list, let this be it! Some nights you may be able to sit down to a family meal, others you simply won't. Weekly meal planning will save you from dozens of trips through the drive-thru. If you don't like the idea of cooking every day then take a couple of hours to make 2-3 casseroles on Sunday night, keep them refrigerated then pop them in the oven as needed. Purchase bread rolls and pre-made salads and soups, and keep them on hand to accompany your main dish. Depending on the size of your family, the casseroles can last a few days including leftovers. The other days can consist of slow cooker meals, hearty sandwiches, homemade pizzas or anything that easily comes together for a healthy dinner. Create a Pinterest board of easy recipes, and make a list of what you will need and head to store. If you already know what is on the menu for the day, you will not waste time trying to figure out 'what's for dinner?'.
When traveling for tournaments, planning ahead can also be a lifesaver. Think about what town you will be in, how much access you will have to local restaurants, and how much time there will be for full meals. Click here for ideas on how to eat healthy on the road!
Schedule Rest and Downtime
Being a sports family requires a ton of work! However, proper rest is important for the athlete. Have your child schedule a nightly bed hour, and make sure it gets on to their weekly calendar. Practices and games can be at varied times, meaning that on Monday your player may be home by 8 p.m., and on Tuesday, after 10 p.m. Staying up late to catch up on studying or tackling another task, won't do them any good. Athletes need enough sleep to perform at their best, so make sure they intentionally get their 8+ hours.
If there is a day off during the week, or even just a handful of hours, let them have them. Block it out on their calendars as 'rest', or 'downtime', or 'chill', you get the idea! Give your players the opportunity to just be kids! They can do something relaxing or entertaining, and decompress from the week's demands.
Keep Social Media Time To a Minimum
This is a tough one to do with older kids! However, as parents, we can remember life without the time-suck that is social media, and we all survived! Our kids can too. If you allow social media then designate a few minutes daily for your athlete to spend on it. Not only are there so many perils to social media if mismanaged, but it really can become a distraction, derailing all of the work that has gone into time management planning.
No Sports Family Is In It Alone
Being part of a team family is one of the biggest perks of advanced sports. Everyone is working hard to make life happen, players included. Parents, don't be afraid to ask for help. If there is an overlap or something required of you that you cannot provide, ask your fellow sports mom or dad to assist. Most will be happy to oblige! Just try to reciprocate whenever possible. Team parenting takes a village!
Earning a spot on an advanced team is a privilege, but without proper time management it can be daunting for all. Youth sports should be fun and rewarding! Following a well planned strategy can prevent players and their families from becoming overwhelmed and stressed out.
What time management ideas can you contribute to this list?
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Barbara is the mom behind the blog, Modern Sports Mom. She began writing a craft and lifestyle blog in 2012. As life evolved, and her boys became more involved in sports, she aimed to create a site that would resonate with moms like her, and in 2017 Modern Sports Mom was born. A baseball and football mom, she is fueled by her strong faith, dedication to her family, and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee! Barbara lives in beautiful Southern California with her husband, kids, dog, and cat.