Source: Surviving Youth Sports
Spring is officially here and that means so are spring sports! With three active kids, sports’ season gets pretty rowdy in my house. We aren’t one of those families whose kids are in all sports all year round. I just don’t have the patience or stamina for all that. I make sure my kids have a season or two off to just play outside, swim, fight, be BORED! I’m kinda old school like that. However, when sports’ season does roll around, the madness in our house is on like donkey kong!! With two sports players and one toddler to wrangle all hell tends to break loose making me want to ditch practice to stay home and drink my weight in wine.
So to avoid the breakdown I’ve put a checklist in place that’s sure to guarantee a winning season!l for everyone! First tip is to start dinner early on practice and game nights. If you work from home, make it that afternoon heck, that morning if you can. If you work, crockpot that $hit! I mean it. You got buns, a pork shoulder and a bottle of barbecue sauce? BAM Pulled pork sandwiches and toss together a salad. Chicken breasts/thighs, a jar of salsa, dried cumin? The possibilities are endless with that. Tacos, salad, taco-salad. You catch my drift. Point being, get your dinner plan on the front burner! Feed the kids before and then feed-em again after if you have to. If not you’ll potentially have hungry little athletes complaining about how hungry they are right as you’re frantically looking for their damn shin guards… or worse, you have starving kids afterwards, complaining of tummy aches and headaches. Either way, we all know what that leads to… the Chick-fil-a Drive thru. Now I love me some chick-fil-a but I also like to breath in my jeans; and who wants to order a salad when those delicious chicken sandwiches and waffle fries are calling your name OH and that sauce?!? Yeah, I just. Can’t.
Next, uniforms. You gotta have those ready, and by ready I don’t mean they’ve been broken in with last week’s sweat and odor because you had to dig them out from the bottom of the laundry pile. Make your kids strip down in the laundry room IMMEDIATELY after their game if it’ll help. Throw those bad boys in the wash that night and consistently leave them in the same spot. As far as equipment goes; That’s the kids’ job. My boys asked for baseball bags and I’ll be damned if I’m gonna hunt down their gloves and cleats. “That’s what the bag is for!” Amazon has these inexpensive baseball bags, invest in one and encourage responsibility. I mean isn’t that part of why we encourage our kids to be in team sports? I even have them fill their own water bottles. This reminds them that they’re there…for you know…DRINKING!
Last, the toddler list. If you have to drag a toddler around to big brother or big sisters games, you know timing is everything. So since I can’t control time, I try to control everything else. Hungry? Got it! Tired? No problem! Potty? Yep, I even got that! Now, I’m not in the business of loading up on cute snacks and bento, dento snack-em-adobo-dat, boxes – That’s just not my style, but I will chop an apple, and grab a bag of pretzels a couple of toys a drink and toss it all in my “pre-packed” bag which is this giant thirty-one bag. (Don’t want to splurge? Get an IKEA bag!) So, have a seat. Let me tell you about this bad boy! It is huge, versatile and always packed and ready to go. (Even comes complete with goldfish wrappers and soggy lollipop sticks.) I just load-er up with fresh snacks and 2 toys MAX and we are good to go for any practice, any game, any occasion any day! So what’s in this giant pre-packed bag of fun?!? I won’t fill time and space with unnecessary words, but here are some pictures and a list. Hope you get some takeaways from this to make your youth-sports season more manageable and enjoyable. And when you get home from being the bad mammajamma that you are, you can celebrate with a big glass of V-I-C-T-O-R-WINE! Cheers!
- Portable potty
- Pet poop bags (for portable potty)
- Small tent
- Soccer Ball
- Coloring/Activity books
- SNACKS and WATER
- baseball cap/sunglasses
My 3 step process that may or may not work…
Spring is in the air! And with springtime looming there are certain changes that you’re either undergoing or preparing yourself to undergo. I’m not just talking about the wardrobe changes, like putting the riding boots back in the box and placing those beloved flip-flops front and center of your shoe lineup. No, I’m talking about something much bigger. When the seasons change so do our souls. It’s even reflected in my Catholic faith, starting with Lent. We give something up or promise to start something new and after 40 days we emerge better and stronger. The question is; what do you do with your sudden appetite for change, renewal and organization? Where exactly should you start?
I have a laundry list of changes I want to make but I narrowed my list down to three and decided to start with the low hanging fruit – organizing My home. The mission was to de clutter and simplify. It’s not like hoarders or anything but if I find one more expired scholastic book order form stuffed in a drawer because I swore I’d get to it later, I’m going to scream. I have everything from fundraising forms to old medical documents to children’s art that’s not quite fridge-worthy but too sweet to throw away. Well, springtime Mom had no problem recycling that s$!@t. All of the important documents were filed away in a fancy accordion folder I bought years ago but never used; as for the million school reminders and permission slips, here’s what I did. Have you ever heard of the app Trello? It’s like an electronic pin board for all your crap with the added benefit of putting the pins on a calendar, and opening a dialogue with any persons who might also have interest in the pin. It sounds confusing but it’s pretty genius. Next on the chopping block – my closet.
Now I read the cliff notes version of Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and it’s helpful but boy is it time consuming. I don’t know what’s more bizarre… thanking my strapless bcbg peplum top for helping me snag my husband… the fact that I still own a 10 year old strapless peplum top… or admitting that this ritual actually works for me? Hmmm, probably the second one. If you haven’t read this book, do yourself a favor and put it on your Amazon book list! Like I said, it took all weekend but when it was done, I actually felt lighter and refreshed. My only regret is realizing now that my kids have no clothes that properly fit them. I’m also not sure whether I should be embarrassed or proud that I’ve seriously extended the life of 24-month sized leggings by allowing my 3 year old to call them capris?
Now, I don’t know about you but for me, motivation can come and go as fast as a toddler’s nap time – so while I’m on a roll, I’m gonna start my third and most challenging springtime reboot. My physical change will be initiated by a 3 day liquid fast. I’m thrifty so no, I won’t be buying a fancy cleanse kit. Trust me I have plenty of left-over meal replacement shakes from failed diets. This will definitely be the hardest change but I’ll tell you writing about it and publishing it here is like having the ultimate accountability partner. I’m hoping to draw the strength and willpower (God knows I’ll need) to complete the fast, from my faith. It won’t be easy but one thing I’ve learned from personal experience is that the greater the challenge, the greater the reward. So as I drink my first meal, I’d like to hold my shaker-mug up and share a toast to spring, to new beginnings and pain-in-the-butt changes that make us stronger.
I used to roll my eyes walking down the gluten-free aisle at the stupid-expensive grocery store that only the Lululemon wearing ladies shop at – that is until my child, my baby, was diagnosed with Celiac disease.
I call him my baby because he has an angelic quality to him. Ever since he was an actual baby he’s had the chubby cheeks and tummy of a cherub angel, but he’s 6 years old now and he was at the time of his diagnosis. So for six whole years I shrugged off his bloated belly as an adorable feature that I was in no hurry for him to outgrow, all the while he was suffering. I know Celiac disease is completely manageable by following a gluten-free diet, and God knows how blessed I KNOW I am to have otherwise healthy children but man, this shit is hard! We’re only two months into diagnosis and tensions are high in my home!
First of all, the transition from gluttonous to gluten-free eating is not going so well. (Yes I know the two words are unrelated.) I suppose any logical person would say just throw all things gluten away, or donate them but I’m not logical, I’m emotional and thrifty! I just can’t bring myself to throw away a perfectly good Costco-sized box of Kodiak pancake and waffle mix. I mean not only is the stuff delicious, it’s good for us… well, all but one of us. On the other hand I can’t let my other two kids down a dozen donuts for breakfast while he watches. But is it really fair to deprive my other kids of donuts, waffles, cake and hot dogs? In my house those are pretty rare as it is. They usually mark a special occasion; birthdays are for Donuts-with-Dad, pool days beg for hot dogs and burgers and everybody knows something wonderful is being celebrated when someone brings a cake!
My husband, bless his heart I see it in his eyes, the question whether this is really a legitimate disease and if it’s really “necessary to make him live in a gluten-free bubble?” He did actually ask that. And yes, It is necessary! He went through the same thing when my oldest was being evaluated for dyslexia. I know he’ll come around, I just pray it’s sooner than later.
It’s cliche to say hindsight is 20/20, but it’s such a fitting statement right now. Looking back I can see all the ways that the disease was taking pieces of my little boy away from me, from his siblings, friends, and even from himself. Since cutting gluten out of his diet he doesn’t rush home to jump in bed for a rest anymore. He joins his brother outside to play. He not only cleans the food right off his plate but he’s asking for seconds now! He’s actually both physically AND mentally quicker and most notably; he doesn’t complain about headaches once a day and cry at bedtime because his tummy hurts. I’m ashamed to say I actually started to think his complaints were excuses to prolong the bedtime routine, or habitual phrases he used to just to have something to say.
I know the changes will get easier and soon this will all feel normal for my son and for the rest of my family. There are so many websites dedicated to gluten-free shopping and cooking and if any of you have favorites, please share! Like many of you, writing is a sort of therapy for me but sharing personal topics like this is the reason I chose to blog what I write. Some conditions still carry with them a stigma, unfortunately most autoimmune diseases, like Celiac disease, are at the top of that list. I’m not exactly sure why, maybe it’s because people think they’re lifestyle diseases caused by poor diet and lack of exercise. The truth is that the research and research funds for autoimmune diseases are so minimal that very little is known about what causes them and what secondary diseases are caused by leaving them untreated. I’m no medical professional but if you recognize any of the symptoms I mentioned in yourself or your child, you might consider requesting a blood test. For more information on Celiac disease click on the highlighted link.
Why telling our kids, “just try your best” may not be enough.
The other morning during breakfast I overheard a conversation between my boys that stopped me mid coffee sip, which is pretty hard to do. My 6 year old said, “I’ll probably be the worst player on my baseball team.” Before I could respond my 8 year old says, “I’ll probably be the best player on my team.” I don’t remember exactly what happened next, probably a big gulp of coffee because…priorities. Then I explained to them that every team, every good team has more than one “best”-while one player might be the best catcher, another might run faster and someone else , the best batter. (By the way, this is little league and more importantly, Mommy speak, technical positions don’t apply here.) I promised my younger son that with practice he’d find his strength, or his best and he’d use it to make his team better. He’s six so he was over it before I even opened my mouth.
But the conversation really stuck with me. It got me thinking about my own life and how I’m using my best qualities or gifts to make my “team” better? After all isn’t that why we all have a unique combination of talents and gifts – to use them to fill in the gaps of our social circles, our families, our careers? The answer is I’m not, at least not actively. Frankly, I feel like most days I’m going through life on auto-pilot. (Right now I’m imagining my boys faces had I told them to show up to baseball practice, do the bare minimum and *POOF, they’d be the best on the team. I don’t know why this is funny to me.) Sorry, squirrel moment.
So in the spirit of leading by example, I’m gonna commit to actively sharing the best of myself. Corporate America may not have a paying job for my talents but I like to think that my “team” has a need for them. My type-A husband needs more of my fun-loving, free-spirit than I’m offering these days. My younger son, who was very recently diagnosed with Celiac disease, needs my craftiness and creativity right now more than ever. (I mean!! Have you ever tasted gluten-free bread?) Growing up in a family of very passionate Latino women, I’ve always prided myself in my restraint and patience and my dyslexic son deserves all the patience God knows I don’t always give him. And at the end of the day, giving all of my best, being my best will not only improve my “team” but it will bring me back to my center. And because I appreciate a story that comes full circle, I’ll tell you that at the end of the week, we showed up to baseball practice and my little guy did great. He walked away feeling good about himself and his team and before we got to our car, an older boy, the coaches son said to me, “Is that your son? He’s fast! Maybe the fastest one on the team.”
As a stay at home mom and former news journalist, I read a lot of blogs, I love blogs. Every time I read one that I can relate to, I’m like, ”OMG that’s SO me! I’m such an introvert who overthinks my love/hate but mostly love relationship with being a stay at home mom of kids who might all have gluten allergies.” I think we all enjoy those articles because they make us feel relatable, like we fit into a certain sub-group of other adults. Since leaving my career seven years ago, I feel like I lost my sub-group. Sure I have friends. Childhood friends, college-ish friends (for another time), other mom friends but our goals and sometimes our interests don’t align and I kinda miss that.
My mom always tells me how lucky I am to be able to stay home with my kids. I know she’s right and I do appreciate the fact that my husband’s income can comfortably support a family of five but after almost seven years I find myself getting restless and wondering if it’s time to go back to work. I fantasize about going back to my old career, or starting a new one. I’m not gonna lie, I get pretty psyched thinking about the outfits, the drive-thru coffees, the brain stimulation but most of all the people! But those thoughts, as dreamy as they are, are always met with nauseating anxiety. I start imagining all the sick calls I’d get from the school nurse or the class party that “everybody else’s mom” went to. I think about the missed baseball, soccer and ballet practices and that’s about the time I start pumping the breaks on that plan.
So does that mean I’m not ready? I feel ready so I decided to join a network marketing or MLM team. Maybe you don’t recognize the acronym, (which BTW stands for multi level marketing) but you know plenty of women who are in this sub-group. They’re the ones who sell face cleaners, makeup, essential oils, leggings and jewelry. But hey. hey. CTFD! This is not me trying to sell anything to you. Truth be told, I dropped out of Girl Scouts because selling cookies gave me anxiety and those pretty much sell themselves! I know the bad and pushy reputation MLM reps have gotten over the years. It hasn’t been easy deciding to commit to something that I might quit or not be good at. I’ll probably never be a gold level 5, executive top earner, with 8-thousand PC points who gets to drive a pink Porsche in the carpool line but that’s not why I joined the sales-lady sorority.
If it sounds like I’m making fun, trust me I’m not. The thing is, I’ve flirted with this option before and by flirting I mean I’ve spent hundreds of dollars in product and didn’t earn one penny back. So here I am. Again. But why? The skeptic in me says “I’m just doing it for the discount,” but I realize now that I gave in because I miss belonging to a community of motivated individuals, who move in tandem toward something, anything. (And NO! Joining a half-marathon, training group is not an option. Been there, done that. Barely survived.) So even though sales is not my jam I’m gonna give it a shot. I have a good feeling about it. It’s not excitement but it’s something resembling excitement. As I plan ways to market myself, I’m hopeful about possible friendships. As I scroll through business card designs, I’m reminded of my constant craving for creativity. I’m inspired by the positive vibes pulsing through the company’s Facebook support groups.
Plus, the timing couldn’t feel more perfect as the country, the whole WORLD is still reeling from the monumental show of female fierceness and solidarity. Now could actually be the BEST time to support and allow yourself to be supported by like-minded, goal-oriented women and the companies that enable them.
Maybe one day I’ll be ready for a traditional job away from home but until then, I’m optimistic about the opportunity to report to work from my backyard rocker. If you know someone who’s also embarking on this journey, don’t knock her down, don’t unfriend her, don’t rush to say “no” or discourage her efforts. She could be motivated at the chance to meet friends, or to keep her distance from depression. She could need the money for school, little league, medical or funeral expenses, or maybe she’s just doing it for the discount. Whatever the case, give her a break, support her efforts even if you’re not ready to support her business. Listen to her sales pitch, and more importantly, listen to her why. Let her practice on you and please, above all be kind to the lady selling leggings.