Hi. My name is Jenn and I’m a crappy soccer mom. I frequently forget which field we are supposed to go to, which jersey my boys are supposed to be wearing on which days, and whether it’s my turn to bring snacks to refuel after a game. To make matters worse, I’m the TEAM MOM for my younger son’s team, which means I also get to panic 2 weeks before the season ends because I’ve neglected to get team gifts, coach gifts, schedule pictures and coordinate the end-of-season party. Since my older son turned three I have been routinely humbled each year from March through May and August through October.
Whew. Now that I have that off my chest I can share a few things that have helped me out and made me just a teensy bit more organized as the years have progressed.
Signup Genius is, well, genius. Trying to get 10 sets of parents to schedule when they’ll bring the Gatorade and fruit snacks for your tiny athletes is something akin to the tenth circle of hell. Signup Genius lets the team manager set up the calendar – dates, times, locations and what to bring – and then sends an email to all telling them to get on the site and sign up for the date they want. It also allows people to ask to switch dates all without the team manager having to lose brain cells over the whole debacle. It’s a lifesaver. (Signup Genius is not just for sports! Use it to coordinate who’s bringing what for class parties, field trips, pot-lucks, etc.)
TeamSnap – I’m new to this one but it’s pretty darn cool so far. This is a paid app that is set up by a team manager/mom/coach. The app tracks the team roster, practice and game schedules and locations, and allows anyone to send a group email or text through the app (example – OMG, HELP, I can’t get Johnny to practice at 5, can someone please carpool???). Brilliant, right? Even better is that it syncs everything to your calendar so you don’t have to worry about updating stuff when you get random emails changing dates, times and locations. One more cool thing…as kids get older their sports get a lot pricier and more complicated. The TeamSnap app has payments and tracking functions that allow everyone to keep on top of whether they’ve paid for the upcoming tournament and if they’ve gotten the liability waivers signed before the big game.
A big-ass tote bag is the answer to all your problems. Well, not really, but close. Use it to organize and haul the water bottles, balls, picnic blankets, snacks, tissues, first aid kit and anything else you may need. I love, love, love the Thirty One Large Utility Tote. Full disclosure – I haven’t actually pulled the trigger on this purchase yet. I’m not exactly sure what I’m waiting for because every time I see a parent pull one of these beauties out of their SUV on Saturday mornings I drool with envy.
Invest in a couple of lightweight and sturdy camp chairs. You will inevitably be dragging these things all over creation while searching for “Field C” at a park that appears to only have Fields 1 through 8. You have to spring for something that doesn’t weigh 20 pounds. I have lugged around old grocery-store models for the past 6 years and really, it’s time for an upgrade. You can go cheap or pricey here – read the reviews and decide what’s important to you. For us Coloradans, it’s all about the cup holder for an illicit microbrew hidden in a thermos cup and a shade to block the intense sun.
This may go without saying, but participating in a team sport is really a great way to teach your kids about responsibility. They pack their sports bag before each practice and game: cleats, shinguards, socks, flops, water, soccer ball. Now, it’s great for me to say that they are responsible for all this stuff, but in reality it’s mama who makes sure the socks and uniforms are clean and that the kids have put things away in the right spot so that they can find them again. My best advice is to buy LOTS of soccer socks and extra sets of shinguards.
Finally, I think it’s most important (as with everything on this crazy ride of parenthood) to let go of trying to be perfect. Your kids are having fun, getting exercise and sunshine, and you are on the sidelines cheering them on. It’s okay if they have mismatched socks, if you made a last second fast break through the grocery store for snacks, and if you end up sitting in the baking sun on the grass. It’s all a part of 21st century soccer Saturdays. And I love every insane second of it.