If you’re a mom with kids who play sports…you know what this means.
The days are getting longer and that means one thing if you have kids: The start of spring sports. Football, soccer, lacrosse, softball or pretty much any sport that requires you to transport your kids. See also: transport your kids’ sports equipment, your kid’s friends and their sports equipment around in your people mover…your minivan, crossover…whatever it is that gets you around.
If you’re like me, you’re probably always flying by the seat of your pants. You’re probably always one step behind. But getting ready for spring sports doesn’t usually involve thoughts about your car.
And it should. Here’s how to get ready, mamas.
A Soccer Mom’s Guide to Prepping the Car for Spring Sports
1. Clean up your act – or at least clean out your car
Vacuum out that winter crud (or get rid of the stuff hanging out under the seats that have been there since last spring). Start with a clean canvas. Mom cars are not notoriously pristine. We know it’s hard to keep a clean car when you have kids but it’s worth the effort to try a little. It’s also worth the effort to do a major cleaning a couple of times a year. Spring is a great time to get it done.
Think about it. You’re going to be transporting more stuff and possibly more people. A soccer mom’s second home is the car. You’re going to spend more time in there than you already do. And it’s a more pleasant place to be when it’s cleaner and less cluttered. You don’t have to have fingerprint-free windows (because impossible) but you can probably ditch the Bed, Bath, and Beyond coupons living under your seat that expired six months ago.
2. Take care of routine maintenance
This is the optimal time to get your fluids and tires checked. You can schedule an oil change. Think about how long it’s been since your air filters were changed or your brakes were serviced, wiper blades changed, etc. If you have an older car, this is especially important. Our 16-year-old Hyundai Santa Fe is our primary “take the kids to soccer car.” Although we know her days with our family are numbered, she’s been great and dependable transportation. She’s done good by us because we’ve taken good care of her. (And don’t tell her lest she get testy: we’re probably buying another Hyundai!)
3. Make a list of what gear you need
Obviously, your young athlete will have a list of sports clothing and equipment they need to be game ready. Also, consider what kind of gear you might need to keep your family organized when you’re living life on the go. Now is a good time to see if you need to add (or replace) folding chairs, umbrellas, coolers, or the holy grail of soccer mom gear, the canvas sided wagon.
No time to stop at home and change into practice clothes or uniforms? Think about how to rig a portable changing room or slide a pop up tent or folding screen in your car for those quick parking lot changes.
4. Get into a Carpool
Once you have the team roster and schedule it’s easy to organize carpools with other moms. Sometimes it takes a bit of muster to approach another mom on the field and ask if they’re interested in carpooling, but once you do it can be very worth it: not only do you reduce your time driving the kids, but you get to know their teammates and they get to know each other better, too.
You can also plan ahead with families who live in your neighborhood, a strategy that Scotty Reiss found helpful when her two daughters had different activities on the same days each Spring. A bit of planning with other moms yielded schedules that let everyone make the most of every day.
Is your car ready for soccer season? Photo: Penny Giakos-Garduno
4. Work it, girl…but maybe not in the car.
If you’re going to work in your car while your kid has practice, well…maybe reconsider that. I’m not judging and I’ve been guilty of getting work done, or straight up scrolling Facebook while my kids have practice. But sitting with the air conditioning (or heat… looking at you, New York) on, you’re using gas and generating emissions. The the impact on the environment from running the engine for an hour can be significant.
Believe me, I know it often seems like there’s never enough time to get it all done and that hour or two can be great for catching up. But your fuel budget and the environment will thank you if you get out of the car and watch your kid’s practice. And trust me, the kids will notice and feel good about mom watching.
If you’re having a stressful day, it’s also a good idea to take a walk, stretch, sit outside and just relax your mind. If you really need to work, take the laptop outside and watch your kids while you’re waiting for those spreadsheets to load.
You might not consider exactly how much time a sports parent spends in the car. It’s probably more than you thought. I hope you find these ideas helpful and that you have a kickin’ (see what I did there😉) sports season.