By Kia Hammond | @kiamhammond
This past summer, my oldest daughter made her junior high school’s cheerleading team. I’m so excited and proud, but I’m quickly learning that junior high activities require a more rigorous practice schedule. So, I’m gearing up for the many practices, games, and cheer competitions in our future for this fall and winter season.
And I’m not doing it alone! As we have added more children to our family (I have a four-year-old, one-year-old, and I’m expecting another baby in December), her sports activities have turned into family events.
I come from a large family of six kids, and we all played sports and attended each other’s games throughout my childhood. Now that I have my own growing family, I’m finding that I’ve adopted my parents’ “go with the flow” and “this is our family culture” approach to sports season. I had a newborn baby when my oldest daughter started cheerleading at eight years old, and I vividly remember bringing my three-week-old baby to her first game.
Now that I’m getting ready to bring my soon-to-be trio of littles to watch their big sister perform this season, I’m sharing some tips I’ve learned along the way to keep everyone entertained and happy during sports season:
Pack The Car
We always have the car packed with everything that might be needed to keep the kids entertained, fed, and comfortable.
The first thing on our pack list? Snacks and drinks! Growing up, my family always had the all-important snack bag that my dad would pack before we left for any sport activity, and I’ve adopted something similar so we always have snacks and drinks ready to go!
We always have a diaper emergency kit with extra clothes, wipes and diapers, so we’re ready for any diaper situation that might come our way.
Pom Poms! They are my favorite thing to keeping the little kids engaged when they get antsy. It helps them feel like they’re really cheering on the team!
Need more entertainment? We also bring reusable sticker books, lovies, and picture books.
We also keep the car stocked with essentials that we can leave in the car during the week: strollers, umbrellas, baby carriers, blankets, and a first aid kit.
Have A Dinner Plan
I’m definitely a planner, so I’ve really had to learn to be flexible with meals during sports season. Sometimes that looks like pre-planning a slow cooker meal, or finding a convenient drive-through stop, or thinking through our snack schedule so we can have a later dinner than I’d normally prefer.
Trunk picnics (dinner in the trunk with a blanket) are also a hit in our family while we wait for a practice session to wrap up. The trunk of the car can also serve as a change of scenery for little kids during a long game.
And of course, we find that the concession stand on game days can be our friend! In addition to providing food/snacks, the walk over to the concession stand allows us to stretch our legs.
Set Up The Athlete For Success
To minimize last-minute running around the house, we make sure our cheerleader is fully packed the night before so she’s prepared for the next day’s practice or game day. Fundraiser slips are signed and packed at night, and if there’s a carpooling situation, we figure out details ahead of time so everyone is prepared and on the same page.
In our family, we want to encompass the feeling of supporting our family, and the experience of teamwork through a team sport. I know from my own experience that exposing kids to different sports through siblings can spark an interest for them, as well. Things will change as all of my kids get older, and I hope each kid will eventually have an activity they’re passionate about. Until then, this is how we are trying to make the most out of a lot of driving and spending days on a field or in the bleachers. I hope that they develop as many fond childhood memories of cheering on siblings as I have!
Kia Hammond | @kiamhammond
Kia lives in Central Pennsylvania with her husband and three children, and she’s currently pregnant with baby number four. She’s a former postpartum/newborn nurse who loves engaging, encouraging, and supporting new moms. She left the workforce during the pandemic after years of working and being a student mother and is now adjusting to life as a stay-at-home mom.