How to involve your kids in sports without ruining your weekend

I've written before about how hard it is to balance all of my kids' activities. My kids are involved in music lessons, dance, chess club, scouts, and sports, and it's hard to keep everyone going in extra-circulars without sacrificing quality family time (and downtime). I've found this to be particularly true with sports. Previously, having each of the kids in a sport has meant that we have four kids on four different teams, usually translating to multiple nights of practice. And then don't even get me started on Saturday games. Inevitably all four kids have games spread across the duration of our Saturday, meaning that we can't do anything else that day.

I really value our weekends at this stage of life. It's hard shuttling the kids out the door every weekday. I love having a lazy morning where we can lay in bed, cuddle, and take our time. I also love having Saturday free to do whatever we choose . . . go to the beach, explore a park, take a hike. I don't love the way our culture has bended weekend priorities around children's sports and games. I don't love that birthday parties on a Saturday are poorly attended because their 7-year-old friends have a soccer game.  I know that at some point in life, sports might take precedence. But at this stage, my kids are still young. I want family time and community time over competitive sports time. I was beginning to feel resentful that the only way to involve my kids in sports seemed to require a commitment level that I didn't think we were ready for.

Enter Lil' Kickers, a developmental soccer program for young kids. I was so thrilled to find out that we had this program nearby. Lil' Kickers offers focused weekly soccer classes that combine skill-buiding and scrimmages. And best yet . . . because it's indoors, they offer multiple classes at a time, so that all four of my kids can take soccer in one hour. Transitioning from club sports to Lil Kickers shaved HOURS off of our weekly schedule by having all practices at once and no more Saturday games.


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The program is really outstanding. It's clear that the coaches (who are employees rather than parent volunteers) have been well-trained in developmental methods. It's a perfect mix of fun and technique.

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The younger classes start off doing a little circle time. The coaches are so good with the kids . . . they are like camp counselors, really forming a relationship with them.

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Then the class focuses on skill-buidling. The classes are small so they get a lot of individualized attention. I really feel like my kids have learned more in this environment than they did in a league.

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The drills are all very creative, so they feel like they are playing a game even as they are practicing technique.

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At the end of each class, there is time for a scrimmage. While it's not the same as the hour-long game they would be doing in a league, in my opinion, they are still what they need to know about playing the game. I usually felt like those Saturday games were a bit too long for the younger set, and often involved a lot of zoned-out kids running around the field not knowing what they were doing. I like that now, they are focusing more time on skill-building and coaching, and less time trying to create a full-length game experience.

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. My kids really love going, and I love watching them. And I also really love having our Saturdays back. Have I mentioned that?

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I have noticed huge improvement in all of my kids since starting this program, and I've also noticed their excitement about the sport blossom. They are motivated to play more at home (and at school).

If your kids are interested in soccer and you are experience Saturday Game Fatigue (or similarly, Multiple Sibling Practice Fatigue), check out Lil' Kickers. They have classes for kids ages 18 months up to age 9.


Do you have your kids in sports? How do you negotiate the practice times with family time? Have you found any other ways to avoid having extracirricular sports eat into your weekend or family time?




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