My oldest is 9 and has been playing Minneapolis Storm hockey for about 4 years so these are the top 5 things I have learned along the way. Since we haven’t left Mites yet (yes, my kids are very close in age) these tips may need to be adjusted as we leave the land of hockey-only-on-the-weekends!
- Coffee + Reading
Do not underestimate the power of a cup of coffee to get you through this process! The coffee from the Parade Ice Arena concession stands is okay in a pinch but I’d recommend taking the time to bring it from home or stopping on the way to the rink. It is no secret that ice arenas are cold. Dress in warm layers and keep the coffee tumbler close! There is no shame in bringing a book. It is not your hockey practice and the coach on the ice can handle the practice without you watching every single minute. There’s nothing wrong with you sneaking in a few chapters.
- Make friends
Kids become better skaters by skating. Lots of skating. It is fun for them but it can be mind numbingly boring for you! Passive activities are nothing new to the average parent, but do yourself a favor and talk to the parent in the stands next to you. Obviously you will need to put down the book for the interactions! Chances are you will find a kindred spirit and the time will pass by quickly. These are your people now; be friendly!
Theses are the tenets that I live by:Kids should dress themselves– our 5 yr old is still working this one. The hardest part is patiently waiting for him to get all the equipment on his body! Eventually parents are not allowed in the locker room (I can’t wait!!) so train those kids to get it done. Plus, sending your player in a car pool is much more possible if he/she can dress independently.
Kids should pack & unpack their bags – we have a space in the basement where the kids can lay out their equipment (let it dry & air out) and it makes bag packing super easy. We know the bags contain every necessary piece because the space will be empty when they are done. There are so many moving parts with hockey and I think that involving the player as soon as possible will create a responsible player and sane parents.
- Take turns
Okay so to be honest my husband and I haven’t achieved this one yet. He is coaching all three of our boys so he definitely has the lion’s share of shuttling the kids to practices (and skating with them)!
I do my part to maintain our joint sanity by tackling all the non-hockey related tasks of the weekend. It’s a team effort and as long as my husband is going to be exhausted I figure I better balance the load and rest up. 😉
- Take a deep breath
It seems premature since my kids haven’t even left Mite level hockey yet but we have already seen kids burn out. It is easy to get caught up in the competitive atmosphere of kids’ sports. From time to time we will fret about some new concern but then things change and everything works out. I think it helps if you keep some time for you to be an athlete – especially if you were an athlete as a kid. Stepping away and focusing on yourself can help broaden the view.
A few other sanity savers for me are taking a quick 3-4 mile run during practice, running or biking to the rink to meet the rest of the family, and working via the free city of Minneapolis wi-fi.
See you at the rink!
p.s. I’m sure most of this would apply to whichever sport your family has dived into – let me know!