Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Tips for Taking Younger Kids to thier Siblings Sporting Events

Having a 9 year old athlete with a 2.5 year-old in tow, I have had to learn a few tips and tricks to make games watchable and tournaments enjoyable.
Let me start by recognizing that certain ages are just going to be tough no matter what you do. For example, a new walker can be tough even if you have all of the tools possible. Hopefully, however, some of these ideas will help for various ages.
Bring a stroller or a wagon  - Even if your child is past the stroller stage, some fields are far and when you are bringing stuff you will want an easy way to transport.  If you have a younger child, this will also give you a place to change diapers and may help them nap.
Invest in a sun shade and chair  - I bought this sun shade at Aldi for $15, but it would have been worth double that.  It gives my daughter a place that she can keep her toys and play. It also shields her from sun and wind.  Having a chair is certainly not a necessity, but it saves me from having her on my lap when it is 90 degrees.

Encourage friendships with the other siblings - I know this seems obvious, but I forgot how well varied ages can play together.  The other siblings were 4 and 5, so I did not encourage my 2 1/2 year-old to play with them at first. Eventually, she did it on her own and had a ball.

If young, bring a portable/ potty training toilet - We started potty training mid-season and quickly were reminded that not all fields have bathrooms and even if they do, they may be pretty far for a little one. We found our best option was to bring her potty training toilet with us along with wipes. We would take her off to the woodline where others could not see when it was the only choice we had.

Put them in sneakers - Some fields have grass all around them and others have mulch near by. After getting sick of picking mulch out of crocs and wiping off flip flopped feet, I instituted that my daughter would wear sneakers to games so that there would be one less thing to upset her.
Keep a bag in the car with the following:
  • Small Toys - We found the small 2-3 inch characters were hit with various ages. We have My Little Ponies, Mickey Clubhouse, Cars and Paw Patrol characters that we found a bunch of at Big Lots. I also added matchbox cars and books to this box. This box had things that would be fine staying in the car regardless of weather and stayed in the car all season. Bonus, I found many of these at the Dollar Tree.
  • Similar toys to the sport you are watching - It is pretty typical for the younger sibling to want to emulate the older one. As a result, our daughter loves playing with a bat and baseball, a soccer ball or a fiddle stick while watching her brother.  
  • Coloring books and Crayons or wipe off-board  - If you are in a season where the crayons will melt in the car, you may want to switch to washable markers or colored pencils. Either way, coloring and drawing are good activities that many kids enjoy and gives them something to do that even older kids may enjoy with them.
  • Non-perishable snacks (replenish as needed) - Even though I do pack fruit and such for longer events, I also like to have some emergency snacks in case our day was too busy to plan well.  Things like veggie straws, granola bars, pretzels and goldfish stay fine in the car in a sealed bag for weeks regardless of weather and help get the little ones through the day.
Obviously, there are other tricks regardless of bringing siblings. Things like frozen water bottles that can help keep items cold and offer cold water once they melt are a good idea even for adults. This post, however, was meant specifically for siblings. Perhaps I will write another post for any parent new to a tournament team.