My husband and I just started our 13th season of football together, 7th with kids. We have done Friday nights, Saturday afternoons, long distance trips and games across the street. And when I say “we”, I mean him coaching, out on the field or in the booth, and me in the stands with the kids.
Before we had kids, my husband was coaching high school football, JV Thursday nights and Varsity Friday. Games were easy, I sat in the stands, drinking Starbucks talking with his parents and liesurely enjoying the game.
Then we had our sweet Laura, and as all you moms out there know, babies change everything. They just do. I was now bundling up for cold games, carrying diapers, wipes, pacifiars, blankets, toys to every game, and sneaking into the “warm-er” press box every chance I got.
The stress that I felt that first year as a coach’s wife and mom has not been rivaled. I’m thankful to the other veteran Mommas, who have come along side me and shared some of their best tips for handling a game with little ones.
Now with four, 7 and under we had a little time to experiment. For us this is what I’ve found works…
Currently, we have a 7, 5, 3, and 15 month old who is determined to jump off all the bleachers. So I spend a lot of time up and down, up and down.
For my older ones, they get to pack their backpack every week. We always bring;
*Notepads (chunky pads in the Target Dollar section is where it’s at!)
Then they get to pick a few, 1-2 toys each. This normally includes (small, and light weight toys, because they have to carry their backpacks)
* Baby doll and supplies
* Hard Animal toys
* Action Figures
Our little guy joins in with whatever the older three are playing with or using at the time.
Then I game plan for the game. I try and keep the kids interested in what’s happening in the pregame, and we shoot to be in the stands close to game time. Once the game starts they get into their backpacks. Toys, coloring and stickers keep us pretty busy for the first two quarters. Now for our 15 month old, he wants to explore and wander, the stickers and toys lose his interest pretty quickly. So I do a bit of following him in the stands, keeping him in a restricted area and “playing” with him while I watch the game. I teach all my kids very early that we don’t run and jump around the bleachers, so that the older kids don’t teach the youngest things that will inevitably land us in the trainers room.
HALFTIME- We head to the pottys (mom talk right?!) and then to the snack bar. In college we typically played at 1pm and in high school we play at 7-7:30pm, the kids have already had a big meal, but they are ready for a little snack. I let them each pick one thing they want (no restrictions), because I see it as a special treat for the big game!
I know a lot of moms who pack lots of snacks for games. I use to pack snacks, and suckers (These are awesome for helping kids sit still, but my little one is too little for them right now) for games too, and it was great but moved away from that the past few years. I like that the trip to the bathroom and concession stand gets the kids up and moving around. We also try and find an area for them to go run during halftime.
Once halftime ends we head back to our seats, and they get to eat their snack from concessions and a water they brought from home. We use camelback water bottles for each kid and love them. This normally eats up a good bit of the third quarter. By now they are bored and ready to go home, so I encourage them to continue to play nicely because in the 4th quarter they get the iPad.
4th quarter – Once we hit the 4th, they can use the iPad. I typically hook up a hotspot on my phone and use the cell service to watch something on Netflix. R I’ll have movies downloaded to the iPad. We bring headphones so they can hear the movie they watch.
As for the other random items we pack, I try and keep it simple. Last season we had a 3 month old, who I wore into the games, and a diaper bag. This year we will probably ditch the diaper bag for a small stroller, and throw the essentials into the strollers storage area. This all depends on the ages of my little ones and what’s best, for each kid.
Some of my must haves include;
*Umbrellas stroller: great because it’s small, I can collapse it easily. I can also carry it up bleachers with my little one in it. (At college game – without lots of security regulation, we brought out Bob Strollers which allowed us to carry a bit more and helped with the 1pm games… this even allowed the kids to nap in them if need be)
*Water bottles: the kids bring their own water bottles filled with water and ice, because it is HOT in Georgia.
*Wallet: I always make sure I have cash on me
* Game Passes: Typically I have some type of pass I need to get into the game. So I make sure I have this.
* Couple of diapers and wipes
* Cell Phone
That is our current list. I’m sure as the years go by things are going to change. I pray that I keep our electronic use to a minimum, because it is really so easy to just let them play a game so I can watch. I hope that by not spending the whole game looking at a screen they will get involved, which my oldest already does. She loves to cheer and yell for her team! In fact, I think she’s pretty sure she’s responsible for a few interceptions last year because she “scared the other team’s quarterback”.
So here’s to another season. Hoping you all come home with the big W!!