Oh, fall in Florida. For many of us, as parents, that means a bevy of soccer, baseball, or football practices and games. There are hours spent driving back and forth, weekends seemingly spent at parks, gyms, and fields watching and cheering on our children and their teams. I have come across these tips for being prepared for all the varying weather and mishaps that may come your way.
Of all the varying issues we deal with living on the Gulf Coast, prepping for every eventuality of what Mother Nature may be ready to throw at us is a daily adventure. Will it rain? Probably. Will it be hot, causing dehydration and sunburn for hours? Likely. Will gnats and mosquitoes be swarming, biting, and trying to take up residence in your eyeballs? Definitely, and here are some of my favorite tips and products to battle it all.
Sunscreen and Insect Repellents
Sunscreen is my #1 item to pack and put on. Be it a regular sunscreen for the spectators or a sweat-resistant option for our athletes, I always have a couple of options ready. SunBum (especially this face stick because I love the smell), Blue Lizard, and Think Sport are what we reach for first in our house. Next, keeping bugs at bay without spraying chemicals all over ourselves and our children can be a battle, and we love to travel with our Termacell Portable Repellent. Its handy size and easy refills help keep pesky flying bugs from ruining our days on the fields.
Rain Gear and Seating
You will rarely find my vehicle without a couple of Frog Toggs ponchos. They are small and packable, excellent quality for the price, and in a pinch, can be used by multiple people to huddle under and stay dry, and adding a large golf umbrella can do double duty as a sun and rain cover. Stadium bleachers may be a form of torture for us spectators and can be very uncomfortable for long games or numerous game days. Having a cushion or seat can make a big difference on our bodies, and I also bring along a yoga mat for my small spectators if we are on concrete bleachers. I like the ticker 1/2″ type, so they can lay and relax comfortably.
Whether it is fueling up the kids on the field or the siblings that get hauled along as spectators, keeping hunger at bay is always an ongoing battle for our family. Between packing snacks to bring along, stopping for something along the way, or even the occasional delivery directly to the sports field, these are our family’s must-haves.
Snacks and Drinks
The first step for packing a cooler in our family is freezing water bottles to use as ice; it melts eventually, so why not keep it in a nice contained bottle that will likely get drank when it turns into water? To encourage fluid intake, we keep True Citrus packets and tubes of Nuun Sport to flavor our water bottles on hand with the added benefit that they help limit our sugar intake while helping to keep us hydrated.
For snacking options, we always try to have a fair amount of variety available to satisfy everyone’s appetites. Prepping and packing nuts, fruits, and vegetables always is our goal but carrying some prepackaged items is handy and helpful. That’s it. and Made Good brand snacks are simple and easy to grab and go. For crunchy-type snacks, our family loves to eat roasted chickpeas, and Good Notes brand veggie snacks, the Chile Lime Adobo Crunchy Carrots, are my personal favorite for a little extra kick.
Delivery and Carry-Out Ordering
We live in an era where most restaurants have options for carry-out or delivery, making our lives a little smoother, especially on busy days. My tips for seamless experiences with either option are simple: Be patient, kind, and realistic.
When ordering for delivery to a random football field or parking lot, be very specific about your location and wait as long as it takes. “Middle-aged woman wearing a black hat by a white church lady van in the parking lot on the corner of…” is often my description, and it usually gets quite the laugh. Don’t forget to tip that driver for their work in helping you to feed your family while you are on the go.
If ordering carry-out, remember that estimated ready times are just that, estimates, and always err on the side of caution to not make pressing time constraints cause frustration or anger. We are all human, and patience is a virtue that grows with repeated use.
Here at Pensacola Mom Collective, we love all the great places around town that help us to feed our families, and our Guide to Kids Eat Free/Cheap is a fabulous resource.
We’ve all been there as we wait because either the players must be dropped off early or we are watching and waiting for our players.
Having games and books in a go bag to help pass the time during events or delays is always helpful. Keeping it simple with a scavenger hunt card game, roll-up checkerboard, or a few favorite books will help you.
Homework Helpers on the Go
Making sure that we help our children balance homework with sports is essential as parents, and keeping a small homework kit in the car for busy school nights can make this easier. Our kit includes pencils, pens, lined and handwriting paper, colored pencils (not crayons), a pencil sharpener, a ruler, scissors, and a clipboard.
Please don’t make the same mistake I did, and hear me when I say crayons will melt even in November and will haunt you forever with their traces of orange and green. We also have extra chargers in the cars for the older children, an extension cord for charging, and keep service on our vehicle hotspot to ensure internet access, which only costs us $20 a month for unlimited data.
Finally, and most importantly, remember that we are all out to have fun and teach our children about playing and working together as a team.