Game Day DOs & DON’Ts for the Family

    Have Your Kids and Football, Too!

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    In my house, fall means the much-anticipated football season is upon us. Like many families, our weekends from September into the New Year are largely dictated by football schedules.

    This is a fond tradition my husband and I enjoyed as a couple and introduced to our children from birth. I couldn’t imagine spending these months any other way. However, following any sport does get more complicated once kids are in the mix. With a little creativity and a lot of spirit, we have successfully stayed loyal to our teams as parents (of toddlers no less), and with these tips I know you can too.

    DO make it a family affair.

    Being a sports fan and a parent does not have to be an either-or situation. Share the season with the kids. Take them out back for a pre-game scrimmage of your own. Educating your children about your favorite game is the best way to gain their appreciation for not only that sport, but all sports at an early age. Consider relating it to a sport they are already more familiar with and possibly even participate in themselves. As your kids get older, watching sports on television together will become more enjoyable. There are many opportunities to strengthen your family bond through sports.

    DON’T lose your team spirit.

    Having kids should not cramp your style. This is just another opportunity to dress someone in your team’s colors. Teach them your team’s cheer. Does your team offer a special club for kids? Is there a fun book to buy, or website to visit? It is worth Noting, that if your pre-kids style involved heavy consumption of alcohol on game day, perhaps having kids should cramp your style just a bit. Remember even if you don’t have to drive home, you do need to model responsible behavior, and care for your kids for the remainder of the day and tomorrow!

    DO find friends with kids who would enjoy watching the game together.

    This is a win-win for everyone. You will appreciate the camaraderie. The kids can entertain each other. Be mindful of keeping the munchies simple to avoid turning what could be an easy, enjoyable afternoon or evening into something more complicated.If all adults present enjoy watching the game, strongly consider rotating whose turn it is to check in on the kids. This is flexible based on what works best for your group. It might be to switch off by quarters or take turns every week. Regardless, this enables everyone to enjoy the game and nobody leaves with hard feelings.

    DON’T take your kids out to a bar to watch the game.

    You will enjoy yourself much more at someone’s house – even if that house is your own. Bars are not designed with children in mind and offer little as a means of entertaining them. If you really want a change of scenery and to be out among other fans, find a family-friendly restaurant that is televising the game. Plan accordingly and go for the half of the game that is the more important to you since that’s about as long as the kids will last. My advice, even as a mom who enjoys taking her kids out to eat, is it may be worth.

    Splurging on a babysitter. Another option would be to set up some type of babysitting trade with friends who would also like an opportunity to go out and watch a game or two.

    DO consider taking your kids to the game.

    A key element of parenting is exposure to new things. We try to widen the worlds of our children each and every day. There is so much to see and do at sporting events for kids of all ages. It’s like a never-ending game of I Spy, including mascots, cheerleaders, spirited face-painted fans, the band, and the list could go on and on. Being prepared is always important whenever kids are involved. Definitely pack special toys and snacks. Also plan your day around eating during the game. It can be a little pricey but well worth the distraction.Do set realistic expectations regarding how they will act during the game and how long they will be entertained. We’re lucky to attend games with my parents.Grandparents can be great entertainers and this definitely rings true at sporting events!

    DON’T miss out on important family events for the love of your team.

    Family always comes first. DVR the game when possible. Being a loyal fan can be demanding on your schedule. You can opt to protect your family time by watching the game after your kids are in bed. You can’t always hit the replay button on key events in your family’s life. You do need to be careful during the day so you do not accidentally see the score. Some people, my father being one of them, will never understand watching a live televised game later in the day, but it has really worked for us. Prioritize on the side of family and you will come out a winner in the end.In the game of life, we are all in it to win it. Remember to enjoy the season as you always have, embracing the new shared opportunities that sports can offer your family. After all, anything that brings a family closer together deserves a hardy cheer.