I asked you earlier how you prepare and stay organized for the season, and you all sent in some great tips that I have combined with my own tried-and-true methods for staying organized and (gasp!) sometimes even ahead of the game. Here are the top tips for hockey moms at the start of a season.
1. Get yourself a good calendar that can be colour coded – one colour for each person in your family.
This seems to be THE most important and utilized trick there is for keeping organized and is probably not a new concept for most of you. I was surprised by the variety of calendars in use (thanks for every one of the pictures submitted!) Some of you sent pictures of the giant MOM calendar, others talked about using the calendar on your phone. Myself? Because I work on a computer a lot, everything needs to be online for me. I enter events into my Outlook calendar, and for each event, I “invite” my husband so it shows up in his calendar, too. Each child has a different colour, and updates or cancellations can be sent automatically. The events also synch to my phone. There are lots of apps that can do this as well (one that I have heard of is Cozi Calendar, although I have not used it friends say it is great). So get yourself a colour-coded calendar, whatever kind, and use it daily.
2. Establish a routine early.
What’s more important, school, or hockey. School you say? Well then establish a routine early for getting that homework done, whether it’s right after school or in the car on the way to the rink. Start your routine NOW so you don’t have to break bad habits half-way through the season (I am speaking to myself as much as anyone else here, by the way). Same is true for equipment. Don’t want to be running around last minute checking if everything is in hockey bags and worried about forgetting a stick? Get into the routine of having your child pack their bag and sticks on their own, and well in advance of actually leaving.
3. Use a team management program.
If you are a manager of a team and not already using one, ask if you can use a program like Team Hub by Hockey Canada, a free online team management too. Tools like this make it easier to check your child’s schedule and stay on track, and can be used to communicate with other parents. If you are not a manager and your team is not using a team management program. BEG for one!
4. Cook ahead
Do you want to save money and avoid the drive through? Take an afternoon or an evening and make a big batch of something that can be thawed and heated for a quick, healthy meal on a busy night. I often have a batch of chili, spaghetti sauce, or hearty soups stocked in the freezer. Others have talked about lasagne, fajitas, and chicken pot pies. Whatever saves you all the prep work works!
5. Get yourself a big slow cooker.
Ok. I’m sick of talking about my love for the slow cooker. But seriously. If you have never used one, you need to. Many of you have talked to me about how you can’t live without them. Me neither. Often I am up and have dinner made in the slow cooker by 6am. It simmers away all day and is ready for an early and healthy meal when the kids get home from school. Get yourself a slow cooker and use some of our fantastic recipes sent in by Hockey Moms!
6. Get yourself an arena bag to hold all your arena stuff.
I will admit that I have been known at the rink as the bag-lady. This is because I usually have one bag for all my manager’s stuff, one bag for all of the snacks/crafts/toys my daughter will be using as she “watches” her brother’s games, and then my arena blankets (usually two – one for me and one for my daughter to spread her crafts on). Each of my bags is stocked with all the things I need. My managers bag contains rosters, parent contact info, medical info for the team, envelopes for 50/50 money, pens, stickers for game sheets (when we need them), and a bunch of other hockey-related stuff. My “arena” bag holds all the crafts and snacks a girl and her friends could desire. Everything gets replenished as needed, and these bags hold special places where I pick them up on my way out the door (my blankets stay in my minivan until they get removed for a cleaning). Get your bag together and replenish as needed!
7. Have a phone charger in your car.
Hockey Moms are notorious for sending updates about the game to spouses, relatives, and other Hockey Moms who aren’t there. Do you know how many times I’ve heard from Hockey Moms who have had their battery run out? Or been asked if I have a charger? Too many. Get yourself a phone charger for your car. Enough said.
8. Arrange a car pool.
I know. You want to be at every game and practice. But when you have more than one child, that’s not even possible and you might as well accept it now. To stay sane when you have more than one child in hockey, be sure to take advantage of other parents in the same situation, and of course offer to do the same for them. Maybe it’s alternating who drives to away games, maybe it’s taking turns picking up the kids for practice (so the other mom can stay home and do laundry). Once in a while it’s better to get caught up so you can spend some quality time with your child when they are actually home.
9. Keep healthy snacks stashed in your house.
Your family is not going to make it through another hockey season if they aren’t eating well. Keep healthy snacks around. Look at some of our suggestions. Always be stocked and prepare to…again…avoid the drive through.
10. Remember to breathe, and enjoy each moment.
No matter what happens, even if you are scattered like a yard sale, remember to take a deep breath. Inhale. Exhale. Watch your hockey players smile. Before you know it, this part of your life will be over. So enjoy every moment, organized or not.