Family Life

Surviving Spring Sports: A Parent’s Guide

As the older sister of a lifelong baseball player, I spent many hours at the ballpark. When it came time to sign my son up for spring T-Ball, I wasn’t worried–I had been living the baseball mom life for years! I was way ahead of the game.

I arrived at the first game as all new player parents do: excited and a little nervous, carting a folding chair and a blanket under one arm and a bag of equipment under the other. I was confident. I was ready.

In fact, I was not ready at all. For one thing, I forgot his left cleat. For another, my phone died halfway through the first inning so I couldn’t snap his first-hit picture. Then it started raining halfway through the game, and I didn’t have an umbrella.

As it turns out, there’s a lot more to being the parent of a spring sports player than just showing up. It took a few tries, but I eventually learned to navigate the scramble that is the spring season. So your first season is better–and drier–than mine, here are some tips to help you survive spring sports.

Splurge on a seat. You’re going to be doing a lot of sitting, and nobody has time for bleacher butt. Before the season starts, be sure to splurge on a comfy chair. You can find chairs with canopies and cup holders, chairs that recline, and even ones with built-in Bluetooth speakers (hello, audiobook).

Always bring the jacket. It’s common knowledge that it’s approximately 1,000 degrees colder at the field than anywhere else, and there’s nothing worse than shivering your way through an OT shootout. Even if the afternoon is hinting at summer, don’t fall into the trap of leaving your layers behind–always bring the jacket. If you want to be a real professional, throw in a pair of cheap hand warmers, too.

Don’t unpack the car. Think of your trunk space as spring sports storage. Rather than unpacking after every game and practice, leave essentials like chairs, blankets, equipment, and a rolling wagon in your car for the season. You may cringe at the clutter, but you’ll cut time out of your schedule and won’t have to run home in a panic when you forget the glove on gameday.

Cue the crockpot. Between practices and games, you won’t have much time (or energy) left for cooking elaborate meals. Cue your new best friend: the slow cooker. Prep meals the night before and drop them in the next morning for an easy ready-to-eat dinner when you get home. This will help you cut down on those after-game fast food runs, which your wallet–and your waistline–will thank you for.

Bring a cooler. Cheering is thirsty work, and drink prices at the concession stand could fund the next moon landing. Not to mention the meltdown your tired player will surely have when he only has orange Gatorade left. Do yourself a favor and pack a small rolling cooler with water, sports drinks, juice pouches, wine–all of your fam’s favorite flavors. Just remember to bring a Yeti Cup and don’t get in a tipsy tiff with the referee.

Pack a phone charger. You’ll never forgive yourself if your phone dies right in the middle of videoing your child’s first home run (and neither will your mother in law). A phone charger you can use in the car will give you speedy charges in-between games and give you an excuse to scroll your newsfeed for a few minutes.

Febreeze is your friend. Kids smell. Kids who have just spent hours in active exercise really smell, and they will transfer their stench to everything you own. While you can’t wash your car seats (or the cat), you can spray a hefty dose of Febreeze on just about anything. And you will. 

Enjoy it. Let’s be honest–it’s not likely that your PeeWee League player will catch the eye of a college recruiter during the Saturday morning game. Try to let go of expectations and support your player even when he’s watching butterflies instead of the ball. As long as he is having fun, every game will be a win. ■

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