We started school a week and a half ago on the last Wednesday in August, and then last Monday was Labor Day, so today is our first Monday of school.
It’s also the first day of swim practice and the first day of soccer practice.
So the madness has officially begun.
I know I’m not the only one officially entering madness.
Last week I shared this picture on the Facebook page, and it got a pretty big response.
Because so many of us are officially entering (even more) madness today.
And a reader left this comment:
Do you have swim practice every day? I’m thinking of signing up my 6 yer old for a team. Idk if I can commit though. How do YOU do it?
Anyone who knows me knows I am a HUGE proponent of sports. Swimming in particular.
In high school I was a three-year varsity softball player and three-time All-State swimmer, In college I was a 4-year Division 1 swimmer, and now I’m a swim coach.
Aside from the obvious physical benefits of being involved in athletics, sports, and swimming in particular, have taught me how to push myself, how to move out of my comfort zone, how to set goals, how to achieve success and how to handle disappointment. Sports have taught me how to be part of a team, the qualities you need in order to be a leader and how to be a leader, that nothing is ever just about you, that the journey is more important than the destination, who my true friends are and that families are more than just blood relatives. And whether I’m on the athlete side, the parent side or the coaching side, sports consistently remind me that I’m stronger than I think.
Sports will always be a part of my life and as long as they want it to be, a part of my kids’ lives, too.
This year we have five kids in grades 1, 2, 3, 6, and 7. (The older two are in college).
Number 3 is on the swim team.
Number 4 is on the swim team and is doing the middle school cross country team this fall.
Number 5 is on the swim team.
Number 6 is playing soccer.
Number 7 is on the swim team and playing soccer.
So we’ve got five kids in three sports.
It’s a lot.
I also coach Monday through Thursday.
Number 6 and 7 have soccer practice on Monday nights, games on Saturday morning, and an optional practice on Friday night.
Number 5 and 7 have swim practice Monday through Thursday.
Number 4 has swim practice six days a week, Monday through Saturday. I don’t know what the deal is with cross country yet because we’ve never done it and tryouts are tomorrow.
Number 3 has swim practice six days a week, Monday through Saturday, and this year he also has morning practice before school two days a week.
In total, between soccer, cross country, and swimming, we will have 25 different practices to get the kids to each week.
Here is what today looks like after school:
Most of this week will look like this. Next week will be busier with the addition of cross country.
So it’s a little insane.
How do I manage?
I do the following eight things:
First, I ask for and accept help whenever possible.
I don’t have money for a babysitter, but I do have resources. My parents are both retired and they live close by. Tonight they are babysitting because it’s Number 6’s Open House at school. They will take Number 6 and 7 to soccer while I am coaching swim practice and then get them home.
On the days when he is home from work early enough, he will take care of whatever practice/driving he can.
Second, I carpool.
I have a couple good swim mom friends who I totally rely on. They do way more driving for me than I do for them (but I also coach their kids, so they understand).
Tonight one of those friends is getting Number 3 and 4 both to and from their practices.
Third, all the kids don’t go to every practice.
Number 3 and 4 are at the level that they usually go to practice 6 days a week. But the younger kids are not. Number 5 and 7 have four swim practices a week, but attendance is not mandatory at all of them. So they usually only go to two swim practices a week. Some weeks they only go to one. On weeks that aren’t so crazy, they sometimes ask to go to three. But I don’t even allow them to go to all four. (And I’m their coach!) It’s just too much, and they are young. They don’t need to go to practice four days a week for anything.
Fourth, I schedule errands and workouts around practices when possible.
Number 3 and 4 are old enough that I don’t have to stay at their practices. Whenever possible I drop them off and run to the grocery store (or wherever) when they are swimming, or I’ll bring some work to do in the car or I use that time to check emails/return texts, etc. Sometimes I use that time to just read or screw around on Facebook.
Since I coach Number 5 and 7’s swim practice, I can’t do anything when they are swimming, but if I weren’t the coach, I would stay at the Y, make the most of that time, and get my workout in then while there were swimming.
Fifth, I plan my meals as much as I can.
If I can cook meals for the week on the weekends, I do it. I use my crock pot as much as possible. I make double and triple batches of meals and freeze them whenever possible so I can just grab them and heat them up on super crazy nights.
Sixth, I remind myself I am not Martha Stewart.
Sometimes we eat cereal for dinner. Because sometimes that’s all you can do.
Seventh, my kids are responsible for their sh*t.
All the kids pack up their swim bags. They fill their own water bottles. If they are going to be gone for a long time after school, they pack a snack for themselves. If I had to do that every day after school for five kids, I’d need like a whole extra day in the week.
Eighth, I accept reality.
I’d love to watch every single thing each of the kids do. But I can’t be everywhere. So I know going into the fall that I am going to have to miss things. I will never be able to see Number 6 and 7’s soccer practice on Mondays. I have no idea when Number 4’s cross country meets will be or how that even works, so there’s a good chance I’ll miss a lot of those. But between my husband, my parents, and me, somebody will always be at the kids’ games and meets.
That’s how I do it!
If you have any other tips/tricks up your sleeve, please share. We all need all the help we can get!
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