Big kids have great fun competing at sports
But how do you keep the little ones happy?
Whether it’s a grading for martial arts, a swimming competition, Little Kickers or Rugbytots as little ones get older they start competing and little siblings often need to come along for the ride. How do you make sure everyone is happy and having a fun time?
- it should be fun for all
- it can get expensive if you don’t prepare
- planning in advance takes the stress out of the day
As kids get older it’s good to get them involved in a sport of some kind. Getting active at a young age sets children up for a healthy life and sets a bedrock of muscle memory that means they can pick up being active at any time in their life, and a little activity will bring a big pay off.
When they are little you might have taken them to baby gyms, or soft play centres and these are great for helping build the coordination that will help them engage in more structured sports. and these in turn can give them life skills that will help them in ways that no time in the classroom can.
Your little one may love water, dance all the time, run around, climb everywhere or love a bit of rough and tumble. Once they are 4 years old they may be ready to try going to dance classes, joining a martial arts club, swimming, gymnastics, running around after a ball or even turning their hand to tennis. Once your pre-schooler is getting involved in sports they may well also have a little brother or sister who worships them and wants to get involved too. This is when you have to juggle – most young children need to have someone with them when they are participating in sports. If you are lucky enough do you leave the little one at home? Or do you take them along? If you have more than one older one competing, or don’t have anyone to help out, then you all have to go to the training sessions.
Boo has always been a sporty kid, and our way of keeping the kids busy is to get them involved in sports early on. Bash is heading that way too but will probably like very different sports. It’s not surprising really as both parents competed when they where younger and still get a kick out of sports, but we’re definitely past competing. This means for a number of years now our lazy weekend mornings have disappeared as we head off for swimming classes, tennis club, cricket practice, martial arts, dance and drama, you name it we’ve tried it and our kids have been busy. So we’ve worked out how to survive a grading without getting bored waiting around, how to go to a swimming competition and not spending a fortune in the cafe to feed the little one, and how to stop a toddler running onto the rugby pitch as the older kids are thundering towards the try line.
So here is our checklist for keeping you and the kids happy at a sports event;
- Plan ahead. Don’t sign up to every competition, just work out which ones they really need to participate in and hope this means that they are not back to back with no rest weekends. It is supposed to fun not exhausting!
- Work out the when, where and how. How early do you need to get up to get out and there in time to be ready for the first or main event? How are you going to get there? Can you car share? Is there parking? Do you have to pay for it?
- Take many layers. Check the weather report and dress everyone for the worst case scenario. Waiting around can get cold and this can make little ones miserable. If little one is in a buggy (great to use as a cart to take the foldaway chairs, picnic box and sport lit in) or the sling (very handy for safety in crowds) then remember to take a cover – one of these from Bundlebean works perfectly!
- Take a spare set of clothes (for all the little ones) and shoes if you are spending time outside and if you are taking a toddler make sure you bring them changing kit too. Changing a nappy in a portaloo is really not easy to do. If you are potty training the queue for the loo’s just might be a bit too much. But if you have brought along a little pop up tent then you can get come privacy/protection.
- Take food. Enough sandwiches for a round each, some fruit, drinks for each of you, and some snacks. It is better to bring a little too much – you can always share it around, rather than not have enough and have hungry little ones. If your little is still bottle fed then take one too many ready mixed travel cartons, just in case. Even when they are older they still like the fruity Ella’s kitchen pouches! And we always take thermos – either with warm food in it or hot water so we can make tea or coffee.
- Take something to sit on – folding chairs, a picnic blanket and for little ones a head rest can make sure that they are comfortable waiting around. We love these elephant ears – they are great for sitting in chairs or your buggy and supporting little heads and necks.
- Take something to do – crayons and colouring books, an outdoor game like skittles or a football, or even a book can keep little ones entertained.
- Take a bit of spare cash – you never know if you might need it, to take part in a raffle, pay for a programme or a photo of your darling one looking amazing doing their sporty thing. Just a little cash can keep tears or pester power at bay.
- A first aid kit – even if it is a small one with a steriliser pad, plasters, a sachet of Calpol and some arnica for sprains and bumps. You never know if you may need it but better to be safe than sorry!
- Take a sense of adventure and sportsmanship. Make the participating bit the fun, and show that it is good to support other competitors, be humble in victory and celebrate every achievement. Its not just about the winning, it’s about getting out there and having some fun!