By Kevin Christofora
It doesn’t take an engineer to balance Little League with school, dinner, homework, and your family’s usual commitments, just one parent! With a piece of paper, a pen, and a moment to logically– without interruptions—you can map out your family’s schedule, ensuring success and peace during the Little League season, which can feel hectic at the best of times.
There are a few keys to scheduling your family successfully:
• Skip the technology. Using an app or computer program will leave you susceptible to interruptions and notifications from your inbox, social media sites, and any number of other distractions of the modern world. Create your timeline on a good, old-fashioned sheet of paper.
• Be honest with yourself. Will your kids really come straight home from school and diligently start their homework? Of course not! Allow time for snacks, “chilling”, and whatever else your child’s usual post-school routine entails.
• Don’t forget all of the time your kids procrastinate. If your kids are going to take their time rummaging through their backpack, realizing that they didn’t write down their assignment and having to call a friend, and set up, leave a cushion in your schedule!
To set up the rest of your schedule, first block in drive-time to the Little League field. The coach will try to make the most of the time between when they are able to get to the field after work and dark, so block in the schedule set by the coach, along with some time for your child to practice catching with friends before practice and chatting after practice. Next, block in the time it will take you to get home.
When you get home, you will, inevitably face muddy clothes and a quick change or shower. Afterwards, you will have to decide whether more homework or dinner comes first. To facilitate this, you can either do the majority of your meal prep on the weekend—or whenever you have time—or ask the parent who didn’t attend Little League practice to have dinner ready-to-go. With some planning and preparation, you can avoid the trap that so many families fall in of eating fast food or delivery pizza every night.
By the time dinner and homework are done, it is at least 8 PM, and neither you nor your child has had the opportunity to relax once. To avoid getting overwhelmed and resenting the schedule that sports dictate, make sure that you spend at least a half hour every night relaxing as a family.
I think the most important thing to do is “be aware and honest” with yourself. Don’t forget drive times, the transfer times between activities, and the de-mudding time and cleanup time, because it can feel impossible for parents who try to do it all after the kids are asleep, and it is even harder for the T-Ball kids’ parents, since many of them go to bed at 7 PM, which can be a total culture shock to new parents for first time sport participants.
Remember your kids are kids, and one part of their physical being is made up of baseball (sports). Do not fall into the trap of one dominating characteristic. Early specialization can interfere with normal identity development and risking what a doctor would call a one-dimensional self-concept. They will not be able relate to the world around them. Being in sports is just one piece of who they are.
Christofora, a father and little league coach, hopes his books will inspire children to play outside more often. A devotee of America’s pastime, he aims to teach young people about baseball and the habits of a healthy lifestyle in the form of a fun and educational bedtime story. He has appeared on ESPN Radio, 660 News Radio, Santa Fe – KVSF 101.5, and WDST-FM Woodstock, and has had articles featured in About Families Online, KidzEdge, Mom Blog Society, and several other publications.