NFL Health Playbook will feature a guest columnist every Tuesday, each with a different viewpoint of player health and safety from the youth level to pro football.
By Amanda Rodriguez, NFL Evolution columnist
Fall is my favorite season.
The weather is perfect, you can wear your favorite knee high boots and jeans again without sweating your makeup off, the kids are back to the routine of school and soccer -- and football.
Bring on the football!
For our family, where we have three boys playing multiple sports at all different age levels, time management becomes key.
Let me give you some background on fall for us: I have a U14 travel soccer player and two tackle football players. Among the three, we practice four nights a week and have anywhere from three-six games on the weekend, tournament dependent. We have an 8th grade honor student, a fifth grader, and a second grader, who also has some specific medical issues that require above-average visits to a medical practitioner.
I am also a football team mom, a member of the football committee, on the board of directors for our local sports league, a board member of the middle school PTA and a work-at-home mom who owns two businesses. I work out at least three times a week and I usually travel out of town for work at least once a month. My husband works full time to a job, which requires an hour-long commute. And I have a dog. She sleeps more than she's awake, though so she's pretty easy.
I think you all would agree that, like many of you, we are super busy. And that means I have to be on my game.
I want to ensure that my children meet all of their expectations -- for school and sports -- and that they also learn and grow, getting as much as they can out of their childhood experiences.
It's my responsibility to create as smooth of a life flow as possible for them. I am in charge of limiting stress and increasing joy, both theirs and my own. Making that happen with a schedule like ours is challenging for sure, but it's not impossible.
For me it's about forethought and planning, being organized and efficient, so that I can make time to be present. I don't just mean sitting there like a lump, without the brain power left to be engaged. I mean really being present in the moments so that I can soak up all of the awesome they're putting out for me, before they move on and I've missed it.
But it's hard when life is just so busy.
There was a time when I thought we were too busy, when I wanted to give up on things I was passionate about (sports and exercise) and replace it with time to stare at each other from our separate couch corners. Needless to say, our family did not enjoy that phase.
So a solution was needed. After a meticulous scientific process involving trial and error, wins and losses, and more yelling than I'm willing to admit, I've come up with a few things that help me make this life happen.
First, decide what's important. Prioritize the elements of your life that you derive the most joy from and then commit to making those happen. Include your spouse and your children in this process so that everyone has things that fill their buckets. My husband is into fitness, we all make adjustments so that he can work out five nights a week and participate in the physical competitions he enjoys. My kids have their sports. They choose one per season and go hard. I get my bucket filled, too. Mostly it's by supporting their endeavors, but I also make it a point to get in my workouts. Throw in a bi-monthly pedicure and I am golden.
Second, keep a meticulous schedule. I feel like the issue we faced previously is that I was relying on my overworked brain to manage everything on its own. My brain isn't as young as it used to be, and it's more full than it ever has been. I needed to outsource some of its work. It just took discipline and technology. We have a shared Google calendar that even my kids are a part of. They have become very proactive in managing their own activities and ensuring that they remind me of things they need to do. Missing a position practice and being forced to run hills will do that to you.
Finally, make down time a requirement. Everyone needs to recharge. Time to reflect, time for silence, time to just be you without witness. I make it a priority that we get this both as a couple, as a family and individually. Sometimes it's something big -- a trip to see grandma, a day at the Renaissance Fair. Sometimes it's basic -- maybe just a family dinner, or one of the old movies we love. Regardless, it is time we spend enjoying something together. Separately, my husband and I make time to date. And, the kids get time alone too, sans mom and dad to manage and brothers to judge.
These three things seem to make all of the multitude of other things fall into place. And, while steering this life is chaotic and unruly and busy and loud, I can also say that I've finally reached a place where it is exactly perfect and totally worth it.
Amanda Rodriguez is a humor and lifestyle blogger at DudeMom.com. In addition to having a loose grip on reality, Amanda enjoys traveling to far off lands (or, not so far off lands) with her family and cheering herself hoarse on the sidelines of her sons' games. They will thank her one day, she's certain.