6 helpful tips for time-stretched hockey families
By Emily Erson
Time flies when you are working hard and having fun, and that’s precisely what hockey families do every day. Proper time management for hockey families skills are practically a requirement of the sport. Between practices, team meetings, travel games, practice time, rink time, homework, school, work, sleep… you get the point: we’ve got a lot on our plates, whether you’re the player on the ice or just the parent and chauffeur.
A hockey family has to glide along like freshly sharpened skates. These time management tips for hockey families can help you achieve this goal. They might (big emphasis here) even earn you a few extra minutes at the end of the day for some quality you time.
1. Accept That You Can’t Do It All
This is the first step towards better time management for hockey families. For some people, it’s also the hardest obstacle. Our children look up to us like superheroes, which makes it all the more challenging when we have to admit (both to ourselves and them) that we can’t always do everything and we aren’t always on time. The sooner you can accept this, the easier it will be on days when you’re a few minutes late to practice, or you can’t quite get to everything you want to.
This time management tip extends to other members of the family. Your young player is going to have to learn that they can’t make it to every social gathering, birthday party, or other activity that they want to go to. Other members of the family might also have to make scheduling sacrifices to make things work.
2. Create a Master Schedule
To stay organized and keep everyone on the same schedule, it’s good to create a master calendar that has everyone’s events. This makes it easier to plan out who is driving/attending each activity. Your master schedule should be on display somewhere at home so that everyone can see it on a daily basis, but you also want to have access to it on the go. In our family, we have a large calendar on the kitchen wall at home; plus each of us is connected to the same Google Calendar, which also has everyone’s appointments, practice schedules, etc.
This is easy to set up, even if you aren’t very tech savvy. What’s nice about the Google Calendar is it gives you access to your master schedule at any time. So if I am out and need to make an appointment, I don’t have to second-guess when to slot it into the schedule; I can quickly look at my smartphone and see. This has seriously cut down on our annual number of scheduling-conflict-induced migraines. You can even change settings so other family members get notifications of new events on the schedule.
3. Prioritize Activities and Responsibilities
As we mentioned, there’s always going to be things you (or your kids) want to do, that just don’t fit into the schedule. Sometimes you can shuffle things around to make it work. But if that isn’t the case, then sacrifices have to be made, which is no one’s favorite thing. To alleviate the nuisance of schedule sacrifices, it’s an excellent strategy to create a list of all of your calendar activities in order of their importance.
When you go to add a new activity and run into a conflict, you can measure how important the already-scheduled event is compared to the new one. This will also help make it easier to justify your reasoning when your son or daughter wants to do something that doesn’t fit into the schedule, and you have to tell them no.
4. There’s an App for That
There are tons of time management apps on the App Store or Google Play. Some make it fun and easy to check items off a to-do list, while others let you track how much time you spend on each daily activity and so on. You might see your mobile device and smartphone as being a distraction, but these time management apps can make your family’s smartphone use productive. If you’re going to try a time management app, I recommend downloading a few different ones at once.
Everyone handles time management a little differently, so the app that works for me may not work for you. My son has an entirely different time management app than me. He uses his to track the time it takes him to finish homework and do other daily tasks, while I use mine to keep track of long-term goals and objectives for our hockey family. When everyone is responsible for their time management, the family operates a lot smoother!
5. Budget Your Time Appropriately
This isn’t going to work with everything on your schedule. If hockey practice is an hour long, it’s an hour long. But other daily activities don’t have concrete time parameters, which means how much time we spend doing those things is mostly up to us. Just like you budget your finances to make sure you can cover all of your expenses, planning your time ensures that you properly manage all 24 hours of the day.
You can budget your time by adding all the time spent on these types of activities and any downtime your schedule permits (probably not much!). Then, redistributing that time across the different events. This is where measuring how long it takes you to do specific tasks is critical. It may take your young hockey player only fifteen minutes, instead of twenty, to do their chores. By appropriately budgeting their time better, you’ll be able to use this otherwise-wasted five minutes elsewhere.
6. Plan for Downtime
As a hockey family, there isn’t a ton of downtime in our schedules. It’s just the rare, odd pocket of time when nothing is scheduled. Downtime is essential, and you don’t want to overschedule and gobble up every available minute. Downtime allows for just a brief moment of relaxation and reflection, which is crucial if you’re a hockey player, mom, dad or any other living human being. In other words, it’s okay to take a few minutes off here and there and just chill.
Time management for hockey families is an ongoing process, and you don’t have to get it right the first time (or the second or third). We all aspire to be a superhero parent, but like all good superheroes, reaching the peak of our power takes practice, learning and, well, time. Don’t be afraid to try new time management tools or tactics, even if your other efforts have failed in the past. You never know what might stick and allow your hockey family to optimize how they spend their time.
Hopefully, these 6 tips on time management for hockey families will help get you on the right path towards taking better control of your hockey life, and elsewhere.
To some, teaching is a job, and the title they give themselves is teacher. To me, teaching is a passion and the title I give myself is lifelong learner. In addition to finding ways to reach kids in the classroom, I spend a great deal of my time working with several youth hockey programs and animal rescue organizations. In short, I am a mother, teacher, and hockey mom extraordinaire. My passions lie in this order: kids, dogs, hockey, coffee. The thing is, I need the coffee to keep up with the kids, hockey, and the dogs.