For kids, involvement in youth sports is supposed to be all fun and games; for parents, managing their children's sport schedules can be downright stressful.
Ask Camara Banfield, senior deputy prosecutor for Clark County and busy mother of three. Her oldest son, Tyler, plays tennis and basketball; younger son, Revac, plays soccer. And her 4-year old daughter, Olivia, desperately wants to play soccer and do gymnastics.
"We had the boys in sports at her age," explains Banfield. "I don't feel like I'm being sexist, but it's just so much. I'm going crazy here."
As a former 4x400 World Champion, Banfield knows the value of team sports but already the kids keep her running.
Here's the schedule for one of the family's Saturdays in October:
- 10 a.m. - Revac's soccer game
- 11 a.m. - Tyler's tennis matches
- 4 p.m. - Tyler's basketball game
- 7 p.m. - Tyler's basketball game
"It's a constant struggle," says Banfield. "Often times, I feel like I'm not great at either job, because I'm not being the mom I want to be by making it to all the games and being there for practice and being the one doing the carpooling and being there for my (work) team that needs me to answer questions."
Take a look at a recent survey, commissioned by i9 Sports, a local youth league:
- 65% of moms say their kids' sports interfere with their jobs.
- 24% of moms say youth sports cause conflict with their significant other.
- 76% of moms say they're happiest when their kids' sports seasons are over.
Stay-at-home parents struggle too.
The Problem Solvers found Kristen Eilers on the sidelines of her son's flag football game in Beaverton. When asked how many hours a week she spends driving her three children to sports practices and games, Eilers laughed and answered, "A ridiculous number of hours!"
There's a youth league in Portland that has heard parents' pleas for a simpler sports life. i9 Sports runs one-and-done leagues.
"It's just come on Sunday, have an hour practice and an hour game, and we're done," explains Eilers.
While i9 Sports is meant to simplify parents' lives, the Problem Solvers did find plenty of families whose kids play a second sport through the i9 Sports league, adding on to an already busy sports schedule.
Of course, not every family wants to switch leagues, so consider the following advice for simplifying your sports life:
- Manage your calendar. Make sure all practices and games are on a shared family calendar, preferably on your smartphone.
- Share the load. Carpool with other parents but make sure to use a consistent schedule to avoid any miscommunication.
- Divide and conquer. Lose the parent guilt and be ok with sending just one parent to a game, if necessary.
- Store your child's sports gear in the same spot. Doing so will help avoid those last-minute cries of "I can't find my shin guards!"