Making everything happen during the week can be a challenge for fencing families, in no small part because the days start early and the nights can go long, and competition weekends can make it all even worse. There are always ways to improve, things that we can do to make it easier and less stressful for the family. Here are some things that we’ve found to work for us.
1. One stop gear
It almost goes without saying that gear needs to be put all in one spot, but it’s worth saying again as it’s the heart of making it all work. Fencing gear needs a home in your home.
The bottom line is that kids are going to misplace things, put them in the wrong place and forget. Personal responsibility is certainly an important part of the equation, but kids need tools to get there and families need to not feel the chaos of running around trying to get things together at the last minute in the morning. A fencing gear station in your house will really help to make things work, something that’s more than just a bag on the floor by the back door. A shelf is a great idea, with hooks and a hanger for the uniform and a spot for fencing shoes.
2. Restructure where you need to
Life doesn’t slow down once fencing competition season gets going. Now is the time to let go of things that aren’t serving your family and add in extra pressures. Don’t be afraid to ask others for help and to restructure things that you have on your plate.
It could be a simple as changing the time of that piano lesson or as drastic as asking your boss for a change in your work schedule. People are in general much nicer and more accommodating than we expect them to be. The grandparents might well be happy to pick your child up from fencing class or to run to the grocery store, your child’s school might let the bus drop them off at a different location on certain days of the week, or a neighbor might be willing to walk the dog so you don’t have to rush home. Look for ways to alter your life to make it easier, and don’t be afraid to ask for help!
3. Grab a bar
Food is huge for athletes, and snacking can turn into something super unhealthy very quickly. One of the best things you can do to help weekdays stay easy is to prepack some things that kids can grab and go with. Granola bars and protein bars are some of our favorites, because we can stash them in bags and they keep well without spoiling. Plus they’re choc full of healthy goodness.
The trick is to find protein bars and granola bars that aren’t super full of sugar, which will just kick through everyone. Look for bars with less than 7 grams of sugar and less than 12 grams of fat (according to the folks at Everyday Health). Mom and dad – don’t forget to grab one for you too! Being a fencing parent can mean running like mad, and think just as consciously about how you fuel your body as you do about how you fuel your young fencer’s body.
4. Rethink the drive
How are you getting where you’re going? Mixing up your driving patterns can offer a pleasant change and can often save you headspacce. Think about the path that you take during the week – that freeway might technically take just a couple of minutes fewer than the back roads, but the traffic on the freeway might be a LOT more stressful.
Another way to rethink the drive is to change up your music or turn it off. Yes, it’s nice to catch up on the news, but it’s also nice to tune into some classical music to release that stress. Or just turn off the radio and make car time family time. Fencing families necessarily spend some serious time in the car – don’t take that time for granted!
5. Sunday family meetings
One of the things that makes us feel most crazy is miscommunication. What time was that private fencing lesson this week? When does the uniform need to be picked up from the cleaners? How about that big project due for work or school? What’s everyone eating this week? Who’s got chores to do? It’s a good idea to spend ten or fifteen minutes every Sunday night as a family just touching base about what to expect for the week. Involve the kids so that they can present the things that are important for them as well.
This is especially important if there’s a weekend competition on the horizon, as it lets everyone get ready without feeling overwhelmed.
6. Stop and breathe
This last tip can’t be said too many times – take a few minutes to stop and breathe. There are very few things in your week that are truly crises, and most of the things that you feel are overwhelming won’t seem so bad with a bit of perspective. A key to making your weekdays easier is to be conscious about letting go of the frantic feeling that can creep in!
For parents, this might be just as you sit down in the car, taking a few deep breaths to release tension. Try a ten minute family walk around the neighborhood when you get home, even if it’s evening. We tend to think of the week as a time to go-go-go, and it is, but enjoying just a few minutes of time to relax and let go during the hustle and bustle can really make a huge difference in keeping everyone happy and healthy.
There’s no doubt that fencing families can feel crunched during the week, particularly when there are competitions on weekends. But that crunch doesn’t have to feel quite so crunchy when you’ve got some supports in place to make things easier. Because life for fencers shouldn’t be so stressful! Little things can add up to big payoffs.
Enable your fencers’ independence. I see parents carrying their fencer’s back-up equipment and hooking them up. Let your fencer do it. Also label everything so when your fencer leaves something, it isn’t “stolen” (lost). Let your fencer check AskFred for upcoming tournaments. It’s understandable when they ask for your credit card.