We've all had weeks where things didn't seem to slow down. Papers were due. Tests were given. Games were played. The schedule was packed with events and activities. As adults, years of practice have provided us with the know-how to manage hectic weeks. Children and teenagers haven't mastered the skills yet. How can you help your student athlete navigate a hectic week of school, sports, and family obligations?
1. Be consistent about bedtime.
Don't allow your child to stay up all night studying for a final when they're young. A good night's sleep can often be just as beneficial (or more so) than that extra hour or so of studying, especially for children and teenagers.
2. Set and maintain a list of priorities.
When the calendar is overflowing with commitments, sometimes items have to be cut. As parents, your job is to help your children set their priorities and make these cuts when necessary. Don't just assume that everyone is on the same page. Discuss your priorities (family, school, sports) and plan accordingly.
3. Help your child with time management.
What time is practice? When is the literature final? What time is Grandma's holiday party? A hectic week is the best time to utilize a detailed daily calendar that breaks every day into hour-long blocks.
4. Maintain proper diet and provide regular, healthy meals.
When we're busy, it's easy to grab a bite on the go or to forget to eat altogether. Don't let this become a habit for your student athlete, especially during a busy week. Don't let your child skip breakfast. Insist upon a homemade meal for dinner at least several times a week. It matters every week, but it's crucial during crunch time.
5. Don't do it all. Take a break.
All work and no play is sometimes necessary, but if it spans more than a day or two, your child may no longer be as productive or as successful as usual. This is especially true when things are chaotic or busy. Insist upon some unproductive downtime every day.
6. Speak to the coach.
While I don't advocate helicopter parenting, it is your job to make sure that the athletic schedule isn't too overwhelming, especially during final exams. Adding an extra hour to practice every night during a week when your child has three finals and a term paper due isn't going to help anyone. If your child doesn't make the grade, they won't be on the team much longer, anyway. Speak to your school's athletic director or coach if you have any concerns, or better yet, encourage your child to do so.
7. Work as a team on and off the field.
Your child isn't the only one dealing with a hectic week of school, sports, and other activities. Studying with teammates, for instance, can help your child see that they aren't the only one experiencing a little bit of chaos.
8. Make things (a little) easier at home.
Some familial obligations are non-negotiable. Others can take a back burner when the going gets tough. The world won't end if your child doesn't make their bed, finish their laundry, or put every dish in the sink during a busy week. What things are you willing to let slide?
9. Back off.
It's important for parents to let their kids manage some things on their own. You may find that your help, however well-meaning, is stressing your child out or being counter-productive. Sometimes, parents have to let their children sink or swim on their own. Now might be that time for your child.
10. Keep your eye on the prize.
Remind your child (and yourself) that this is just week in their life. The realization that things are going to get easier may be just enough push to get them past the finish line.