Back to School For FencersGetting ready for back to school is something that all families do, but for fencing families the whole process is doubled down as fencing competition season starts to get going in the fall as well. That means that we’ve got to worry about both our sport as well as all of the academic and social changes that come with the new school year.

Here are some ways that families can prepare for the back to school season to make things as easy as possible going forward into the new school year and the new fencing season.

Have a family meeting

Before the school year starts and things start to go so fast, take time to have a family meeting. This doesn’t have to be anything super rigorous or over the top, but it does need to be something that you do consciously. During the meeting, discuss how fencing is going to fit into life for your family and how everyone is planning to balance the things that they’re taking on. How can family members support one another? What are the things that you can do to help each other out?

Too often we just pull the trigger on our own goals and ideas rather than reaching out to our family members to find out what it is they need from us. However just taking a bit of time to check in – it can be over ice cream sundaes or out on the front porch one evening – can make all the difference in getting everyone to be on board.

Get the info

Though it can seem overwhelming, staying informed is a big deal and a wonderful thing for families. Sit down with EVERYTHING and get an idea of what the school year is going to look like. Fencing, academics and other activities can find themselves at odds with one another, and decisions are going to have to be made as to what is a priority. Now, while you’re not in the thick of it, just gather the information so you can make smart decisions.

Here are the pieces that you really need :

  • Fencing competition schedule
  • School calendar
  • Fencing club schedule
  • Schedules for other activities
  • Other commitments – family gatherings, holidays, work, etc.
  • Contact info for everyone (teachers, fencing coaches, etc.)

This is especially important for families that have lots of people with lots of stuff going on. While we’re not saying that you need to have a super nailed down version of everything (stuff is going to change and come up), you do need to put the big, not-to-be-missed stuff on the calendar well ahead of time.

Make health a priority

Fencing is an intensely physical pursuit – one that requires that the body is doing well in order for everything to run smoothly. That means getting enough sleep and eating healthy food.

Pinterest is full of organizational tips for packing lunches and snacks, and families that fence know that dinner can require some thought on nights when kids are practicing late at the club. Go ahead now and determine what kinds of snacks and dinners are going to be what your child needs to fuel them through long days of school work followed by fencing classes. Think about how you’re going to stay away from fast food and unhealthy snacks now, and keep your child in the loop. While that soda out of a machine might be tempting after a long day of learning, it’s not going to fuel your child through a fencing class. Right now, plan for healthy options. Then eat!

The other piece of the puzzle is sleep. Teens in particular are tempted to think that they can roll on fewer hours than they need – but realize that you’re talking 8-10 hours of sleep every night in order to operate well for the short and long term. Think about how to schedule your time so that homework and fencing class can both happen without late nights.

While it’s tempting for all of us, don’t just wing it – make sure that your young fencer is sleeping and eating in ways that will support their bodies, both for the sake of better fencing and for the sake of better overall health.

Check equipment

As the time for summer is starting to fall away from us, this a great time to check equipment and prepare for the new year. Is your child outgrowing those shoes? Is the fencing jacket up to their elbows as they’ve grown? Now is a great time to go through the fencing bag and check everything to make sure that it fits and is working well. As you’re picking up pens and notebooks, you might consider having your child start a fencing journal (they’re a great tool for helping to keep it all straight).

Now is the perfect time to clear out the fencing bag and wash everything inside it. New year, clean gear.

Let it go

Yes, we absolutely encourage serious goal making and hard work to get there. But fencing and life should also be enjoyable. Don’t sweat the small stuff as the school year starts to get going and things start to feel more pressured. This is why that family meeting and goal setting are so important – they allow you to prioritize what you need out of life to be happy.

Before the first school bell rings or the first competition buzzer sounds, make a commitment to let it go and allow yourself and your child enjoy the things that make you all happy. You won’t have a chance to do this all again, so savor these times and release that stress. And keep in mind that your kids are cueing from you – when you are on your game and feeling free and easy, so will they!

Balance is no small thing to find as the harried days of fall start to loom larger in the near future. As a fencing family, you don’t have to feel overwhelmed by the fall season. Take some time now, before it all begins, to prepare for a smoother and easier fall