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Sports Moms: Staying Organized Is Key

2. Use the power of the Internet. You can use the Internet to do such things as research and buy sports equipment, get directions to away games and tournaments, confirm schedules, book hotels and make airplane reservations. If the team on which your child plays has a website, be sure that you have it bookmarked so you don't have to waste time trying to find the URL via Google or another search engine.

3. Use e-mail. More and more youth sports organizations use e-mail to keep parents informed of practice schedules, game times, sign-up dates, forms due, tournament dates, directions to games etc. (be sure to print out directions no later than the night before an away game; you don't want to leave it to the last minute). E-mail is also a great way to communicate with other parents and the coach.

4. Use three-ring binders. Put information about each child's activities into a three-ring binder, with a section for each child, and keep it updated with schedules for sports, music lessons, Scouts, notices about school activities, team rosters, and phone numbers etc.

5. Keep a good calendar.

  • Data entry. Enter every practice, game and meeting, both start time and finish time (allocate much more time than you think it will take), on to whatever kind of calendar/planner works best for your family (paper calendar/whiteboard, wall planner with moveable magnets etc.). Keep it in a place in the house where everyone can see it. Use different color pens for each member of the family. Assign someone (it will usually end up being you) to be the keeper of the master schedule, the one who checks with family members periodically (preferably every day) to see if events need to be added or deleted.
  • Coordinating calendars. If you use a Blackberry or smart-phone, be sure to enter the events into it as well, and synchronize the PDA with your computerized calendar, both at home and work. (Using the reminder feature on a PDA and in most computer calendars, like Microsoft Outlook®, is a great way to avoid being late to pick up your son after practice or get him to the game or practice on time). Check with your local recreation and parks department to see if a master calendar of events exists. If not, offer to help create one to reduce scheduling overlap, and give you and your children time to get to the next event. Perhaps you can team up with other parents to sell your calendar as a fundraiser. Be sure to put your own work schedules on the calendar so everyone in the family can see how their activities fit - or don't fit - in. Block off chunks of time where nothing is scheduled; just because the time is shown as free, doesn't mean it needs to be filled up with an activity: there should be plenty of free time. If there isn't, you are over scheduling.

6. Use cell phones. With all the "family plans" offered by cell phone companies, equipping your kids with cell phones is a must for busy families on the go. Some cell phone companies are now offering a plan where you can get cell phones for your younger children with up to four pre-programmed numbers and a button to push in case of emergencies. If your child can get rides back from games and practices and calls to let you know, a lot of time (and expensive gas) can be saved.

7. Hold a weekly family planning meeting. Once a week, hold a family meeting to review what happened - good and bad - in the week just ended; and what is coming up in the week ahead. That way everyone in the family knows what everyone else is up to, priorities can be set, and scheduling conflicts identified (it is amazing how many families get stressed out because they ignore the basic fact that we cannot be in two places at the same time!). If you can't find time to schedule a meeting at home, hold one whenever the entire family is together, such as in restaurant over coffee, cookies and cocoa.

8. Teach your kids to stay organized and manage their own schedule. As your kids get older, they can shoulder more and more of the responsibility of keeping track of their own calendar and reminding you when you need to drive them to practice or to a game.

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