After school activities and sports are in full swing and, let me tell you, they are not for the fainthearted. With one kid in football, the second in Jiu-Jitsu, and the third in tumbling, dancing, and soccer, we don’t get home until six most nights. On football game days, we may walk in the door an hour past bedtime. It can be stressful for the parents and the kids but, over the years, I’ve become pretty good at preparation and utilizing our time. Here are a few tips to help you manage your afternoons.
1. Vehicle cargo areas are freaking fantastic
I know that you can’t run out and buy a vehicle with a cargo area but if you have one, use it to its full potential. This cargo area is everything from a closet to a bathroom. Each day, the clothes needed for the afternoon are hung on the side and the kids change in the back. I don’t know about your kids but mine can’t wait to rip off the uniforms. I’ve learned that if they can change into comfortable clothes, they are a lot happier and that cuts down on the amount of whining I have to hear. This year, I added a small laundry basket in the back of my van which has cut down on lost pieces of uniforms. I leave what I can in the car so I don’t have to worry about forgetting it such as the soccer bag, flip flops, and the necessities bag. The necessities bag contains a hairbrush, ponytail holders, breath fresheners, Neosporin, bandaids, and powder for all the parts that get sticky. Don’t forget my beloved car potty which is a lifesaver for soccer fields with no bathrooms.
2. Homework on the go still gets done
I’ve learned that it’s actually easier to do homework with one kid at a time rather than two or three. So, when two of them are at practice, I use the time to do homework with the one sitting with me and waiting. Use your time wisely. My two younger kids have lap desks for the car and clipboards for single sheets. They can do homework while we drive or while we’re sitting at practices. They also do homework while we’re at football games before they’re allowed to get up and play with the other kids. Don’t think it always runs that smoothly; sometimes it’s a fight to get them to do homework whether I’m at home or on the road. I just figure I’ll have to fight either way, so I’d rather do it early.
3. Food on the go doesn’t have to be crap
I can only take so much fast food when life is busy and I don’t really want to feed the kids fast food all the time. For you mommas who prefer to cook, you still can! You can pack full meals in a Tupperware for each kid and they can eat their home-cooked meal in the car while driving from one practice to another or sitting in the stands at a game. They can take their time and enjoy their food and that frees us up to bathe, finish homework, or have a little bit of chill time once we’re home. The lap desks for homework also double as tables with drink holders which decreases the mess. If you don’t have time to cook then you can always order take-out from a restaurant, pick it up, and pass it out. Yes, it’s a little more expensive but, sometimes, it’s worth the money.
4. Let them play or not
We mommas of more than one kid struggle to give our attention to the game and wrangle the ones not playing in it. Every parent is different; some let their kids run around and play and some make their kids sit and not move. I’ve learned to do a little of both. If it’s safe and other kids are playing, I let them play. It gives them interaction and gets them off of the screens. I bring their electronics in case there is no safe place to play or they just need an activity change. If they have homework, I definitely bring their school bags in and they do homework first. Do what makes your life easier so you can watch the game and enjoy the moment.