As I rev up to watch Canada vs. USA in the Women’s Gold Medal match, I’m thinking of the hours of practice, games, travel, miles, travel, and hotels that go into making a champion. These women (some of whom are in their 30’s and now have families of their own) have been working for this their whole lives. For them obviously, the journey has been worth it. They are playing for Gold…in the Olympic Games…again.
But for the rest of us who are never going to playing the Olympics ourselves, or who will never have kids playing in the Olympics, or maybe not even past Novice, how can we strike a balance for our kids, in our own lives, and for our families? I’ve had the conversation with more than one parent…when does it become too much? How do you know you are not neglecting one aspect of your child’s life (like school, for example), for the thing that they love the most, hockey?
Many of the hockey families I know, especially those with more than one child in hockey, are at the arena more nights of the week than not. Splitting up (one parent going with one child, one parent going with another, sending the third with the grandparents…for example) is a way of life. Your friends become, if they weren’t already those parents standing behind the glass watching practice, while your younger child runs around the arena begging for a quarter for those blasted candy machines. You get used to your housework going undone as you run out for practice, give up your weekends to act as a shuttle, and fork out hundreds of dollars so your child can play in the “Silver Stick”.
While I would argue that all of the effort is 100% worth it, because a) my kids love it, b) it is getting them active and developing skills, c) it is teaching them so many things about teamwork, I still wonder if I”ve gotten it right. All you have to do is ask a parent outside of hockey if they think we hockey moms are crazy. I’m pretty sure they would say, wholeheartedly, “yes”.
To try and deal with the balance issue with the kids in my house, we have a few simple rules.
1) School comes first. Always. – If you are not managing in school, there will be no hockey.
2) If you can’t behave in our house, I can’t expect you to behave in public, and hockey is played in public. – This really means “stop fighting with your brother”, but I like the idea of setting a standard for behaviour, because hockey is for my kids, after all, a privilege.
3) You need to have more in your life than hockey. – For my kids, they would play hockey (on the ice, in the driveway, in the basement, on the Wi) 24//7. I expect them to try some different things during the day. Don’t get me wrong, hockey is always number one in their hearts, but they need to try different sports during different seasons, and play creatively doing NON sport things as well.
That helps with the kids, but I’m still working on the “Balance” issue for myself. I suspect that if it wasn’t hockey, we’d fill the time with something else that resulted in my family being equally as busy…but I don’t think it would be nearly as much fun!
So, what do you think? Do you have “Hockey Balance” issues in your own life? How do you deal with it?
We’d love to hear from you!