The pressure of managing school work, getting to practice on time, performing at games and constantly being on the go can sometimes lead to players and their families feeling a little (or a lot) overwhelmed during the long hockey season. This can cause high stress levels and, since we all know hockey is the greatest game on earth, you don’t want to end up equating your hockey time with feelings of pressure and tension as it will take all the fun out of the game.
Common symptoms of excess stress include fatigue, irritability, a constant feeling of being overwhelmed and even an increased susceptibility to illness. Luckily, all this can easily be controlled by implementing some simple solutions and strategies.
FOR THE KIDS
Stay on top of school work. Whether the kids want to admit it or not, school still needs to be a top priority. Managing homework and school projects while balancing a demanding hockey schedule can easily make it seem like school is the event that should be put on the back burner. Like most tasks, school work is easier to accomplish successfully when broken down into smaller chunks. Instead of waiting until the last minute, take advantage of any lead time and work away at it a little bit at a time. Also, an agenda or day planner provides a tool that takes the guesswork out of upcoming dates and events. You can use it to “brain dump” information related to both school work and hockey as it comes along. Then you’ll have one location that shows the big picture, which helps to coordinate schedules.
Stick to routines as much as possible. Children function best when there are routines. Don’t take away their chores when they are busy. Instead, help them learn how to balance their academics, their athletics and their home lives. It’s a good life lesson.
Use the night before wisely. If your schedule allows, prepare lunches the night before school instead of rushing through it in the morning. The night before a game or practice, pack up equipment and have it ready so that there is no rushing when trying to get to the rink on time. The night before is a gift to make your next day flow a whole lot more smoothly.
Limit the number of commitments you take on. Nothing can add to being overwhelmed like feeling that you have to say yes to everything that comes your way. This simply leads to stress and exhaustion — definitely not a good state of mind for a winning hockey player, parent or coach. Being able to say no and to pick and choose what you are involved with is a good way to eliminate that overwhelmed feeling.
Prioritize. When you finally narrow down your list of must-do tasks, take some time and figure out which is most important and has most value. Does cleaning out the laundry cupboard or washing your windows really have to be done today? Or is a much needed downtime day with a family movie in order?
Create a time buffer. The great Stephen Covey taught us to begin with the end in mind. Take some time to plan your tasks and scheduled events. When you have your to-do list, work backward, taking into account the length of time and the required actions that each item will take to complete. Account for a buffer in time if there is travel required or if other people’s timelines are involved.
AT THE RINK
Nobody likes showing up just in time for a game and realizing that an important piece of equipment is sitting at home, even though you had been told everything was packed. Eliminate the stress — print off this handy equipment checklist. Get your child to play a part in ensuring that his or her equipment is intact. It will benefit both their game and your sanity.
ON THE ROAD
Being part of a travelling team brings its own set of stressors. When hitting the road, arm yourself well in advance with as much geographical and location information as you can. Google Maps and a GPS are good tools, but using them on the fly could potentially lead to stress. Ensure that you fill up the gas tank before you leave — if in uncharted territory, you will not be familiar with locations of gas stations. Stock up on snacks — young hockey players need their energy levels to be high when they hit the ice.
Still feeling overwhelmed?
Try exercise! Not only is regular exercise a great way to release day-to-day stress, it is a great conditioner for hockey. If you are not the player but a parent or coach, think of the great example you are setting, using exercise as a method for dealing with stress rather than turning to external, perhaps unhealthy, coping mechanisms.
Delegate! Balancing work, family and hockey can definitely be overwhelming. Have a look at what tasks in your life can be outsourced. Groceries, laundry, snow shovelling and simple chores around the house all eat away at your time. If you take a few minutes to figure out what your time is worth to you, you may find that hiring someone can save you time and help relieve some of the stress involved with a busy schedule.
Simple solutions, used regularly enough to become habitual, can allow parents and their budding hockey stars to spend the season enjoying our country’s favourite winter pastime.
Read more of Karyn Beacock’s great organization and scheduling tips in “Orderly Chaos — The best scheduling apps, organizers and tips for busy hockey families.”