Should You Sign Your Child Up for Sports?

Are your children begging to join a local sports team? As a mother of three I have heard my older girls beg many times for me to allow them to join a sport. So this year I gave in and signed my two older daughters up for soccer. They were ecstatic! I quickly realized that this sports stuff wasn’t all it was cut out to be for MOM. Here are some things that I should have thought about beforehand and I hope that my hindsight will help you before signing your child up for a sport.

My husband and I had no idea what we should expect since this was the first time we have participated in the sports scene. The first soccer practice for my oldest daughter arrived on a Saturday. My husband and I assumed that a nine year old’s soccer practice couldn’t possibly last more than one hour. When that one hour had come and gone we quickly realized that we had assumed wrong.

Two hours! That first practice lasted two hours in ninety-three degree Georgia heat and humidity. I was completely shocked. Since then my daughter and her team have had two more two hour practices and two one hour practices. We very much prefer the one hour practices.

Now aside from the ridiculously long practices, I am completely unhappy with the time of day that these practices are taking place. My daughter is nine years old and even at this age children need approximately 10 hours of sleep each night. Her soccer practices have been in the evening and I just do not believe in having children out any later than 8pm on a school night. The other night her practice was scheduled for 7:30pm and then her coach wanted to have a practice game at 8pm. So i quickly informed the coach that we would not be staying for the practice game. So once 8pm rolled around I took my daughter and left. She and her coach may have been unhappy about my decision but I stood by my mothering beliefs and in the end that is what matters. We, as mothers, know what our children need and being out late on a school night is NOT something my nine year old daughter needs. Always stand by your rules. Don’t let anyone, including your child’s coach, pressure or guilt you into letting your rules slide. We have to be role models to our kids and sticking to our own rules show the children that our rules should be respected.

If you have already or plan to sign your child up for a sports team, it is a good idea to talk to the coach ahead of time. Find out when and where the practices will be held and how long they are expected to last. Then consider whether or not your child will have time to complete any homework, chores or other actives that they may have on those practice days. Will your child eat dinner before or after their practice? This one can be difficult depending on what time of day practice is and when you would normally have dinner. You certainly wouldn’t want your child out in the heat with a full stomach. I’ve seen children getting very sick during practice because of eating beforehand. Then again you wouldn’t want your child eating dinner at 10pm either. Will there be any conflicts of schedule with other extracurricular activities or any activities that your other children are participating in? Too many children these days have way too many after school activities to deal with. It’s a wonder that they even have time to just be children.

Another point to consider would be your child’s bedtime. For example, your child normally goes to bed at 8pm but on the three or four days a week that they have practice they end up going to bed at 10pm. Can your child still function normally on a day to day basis when they are losing 6-8 hours of sleep per week? Some children can. My girls can’t so that is why I implemented the not staying out past 8pm rule.

If you have younger children you may want to also think about how the little ones will handle the practice days and times. Will they sit and watch practice? Or will they want to be up and running around? I have two younger children who do not enjoy sitting and watching their older sister practice her soccer kicks and passes. I am sure that all of the other mothers out there will agree with me when I say that no one is happy when a toddler is unhappy. Luckily the area that we have practice at the most has a small playground and a nice walking trail to help me wrangle these girls in for a little while.

In the end, make sure that you look at all of the aspects of signing your child up for a sport. Later on down the road, you certainly do not want to regret allowing your child to play after you have already agreed to it. Luckily most sports seasons only last a few weeks. So if you do happen to get stuck in a sport schedule that you don’t like, it won’t last too long and you’ll know better next time.

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