It never fails: Only halfway through the summer, the Fall calendar starts to fill up with my teens’ commitments. Just when I feel like we’re settling into a more relaxed pace of life, the registration links start coming through to my email, the coaches start texting, and I find myself asking “Do you really feel like you’re going to have time for _____?”
This Fall, my younger child is excited to finally have an invitation to join a higher-level team in his favorite sport. Our first reaction to the news was excitement for him and pride in his hard work. My second reaction was a glance at the required training schedule and a puzzled “When are you supposed to eat dinner?”
I know we’re not alone – in fact, we’re lucky to have made it to the teen years without too many activities regularly competing with family dinner. We’ve had our fair share of truly hectic evenings, but we’ve almost always managed to sit down and eat together. And, after a few deep breaths and some flexible thinking, I’ve managed to assure myself that we’ll be able to hold onto family meals this Fall, too.
How? I had some ideas, but I also turned to the experts. It wasn’t just a question of finding time for dinner; with a much more rigorous training schedule ahead, I also had questions about making sure my 13-year-old son gets the nutrition he needs. And I wondered about timing – would it be better to feed him dinner before practice? How long after eating should he wait to exercise? What about the right foods for recovery after a tough workout? (And would all of this mean spending every free second I have in the kitchen?)
Fortunately, I got answers to all of my questions and more, and now I can share what I learned with all the other families who are wondering how to make family dinner work when youth sports are filling up the calendar. Check out The Family Dinner Project’s new Youth Sports and Family Dinner section, where you’ll find:
One last thing: Even though this special section focuses on youth sports, many of the tips and ideas apply to ANY activity. So if you’re a drama club family, a marching band family, a debate team family, or any kind of busy family at all, I know you’ll find some inspiration you can use.
We’ve got this, families. Go, team!
Pediatrician and podcast host Dr. Kristin Saxena recommends this easy Chicken Fajita Pasta to fuel hungry young athletes.
Whether you’ve got time for a full family dinner or just a quick snack before practice, you can still enjoy a Two Minute Question Round!
Just as kids are getting back to their busy sports schedules, they’re also getting back to school. Try these conversation starters from our friends at The Resilience Project to help everyone get a handle on the start of the school year.