A few years ago, I wrote a post entitled Soccer Parent Survival Guide. It contained 7 items I recommend all soccer families have on hand for games and tournaments. Here we are, several years later and yes, my kid still plays soccer! I also have two kids that have been involved with track and cross country. In that time, we’ve gone to more kid sporting events than I can count!
Here’s a picture of my daughter at our home meet last year! She’s just 10 and she’s already way faster than me!
Whether your kids run cross country or play soccer, if you live in the Pacific Northwest and have kids in fall sports, there are a few things we likely have in common, such as dealing with chilly, rainy weather. Or having to travel and tote a number of supplies and equipment.
Today I thought I’d share a few of the items that usually make their rotation in our car whether we’re headed to a soccer match or a cross country meet.
Trusty Item #1: Big, Golf Umbrella
I pretty much just leave one (or two!) of these puppies in my car at all times. I don’t care if it doesn’t look like it’s going to rain, because Murphy’s Law says if I don’t bring it, it’s going to rain! I’ve even used our big umbrellas at hot, summer soccer games where there was little to no shade on the sidelines. Having an extra umbrella on hand has meant we’ve been able to share with other parents or even kids, too. We picked up ours last year at Costco for about $9.95. Do make sure to get the kind that are large and sturdy. It can get windy around here, and you don’t want to be the parent fighting with an inverted umbrella!
The one pictured above comes from Amazon, is well rated and comes in a variety of colors. At the time of the post, it was selling for around $25.
Trusty Item #2: Thermos
Get yourself a big, good thermos. In my experience, a name brand like Stanley costs more because it tends to work more. On those chilly early mornings, you don’t want that coffee lukewarm before halftime!
The one pictured above is actually priced just under $20 at the time of this post, which is a really fantastic deal in my opinion.
Trusty Item #3: Insulated Rain Boots
I recall my first year as a soccer mom, showing up to a rainy game in my sneakers. Never again, people! I was so cold because my feet were wet. I ended up getting some rainboots, which was an improvement. However, it wasn’t until my first year as a cross country mom that I noticed another mom wearing insulated rain boots. Even better! You really need something to keep out the rain and the cold. (Particularly if you tend to struggle with cold feet like I do!)
Now I bought a good pair at Costco for around $35, but I noticed there are a number of cute styles right now on Amazon, too. The Kamik Insulated Rain boots pictured above are well rated and many reviewers said they keep their feet warm. Bottom line, when it comes to fall sports think about keeping your feet dry and warm.
Trusty Item #4: Hand Warmers
There may be days when those gloves just aren’t enough! About this time of year, we’ll buy a big box of “hot hands” in preparation for all the fall sports! Amazon sells them too – the 10 pack pictured above is about $6. I do recommend stocking up on these. It’s not uncommon for us to go through 10 or so in a single day between each of us, sharing with other kids, parents, etc. They really do work well and will generally stay warm for the entire event. Recommend, recommend!
Trusty Item #5: Packable Down Blanket
If you haven’t noticed yet, the theme of this post is staying warm and dry! In my soccer parents’ survival guide post, I’d recommended fleece blankets. While these are usually cheap and easy to get, I’ve since switched my preference to packable down. I think it just does better in the wind and rain, plus many include stuff sacks, making them easy to tote around, particularly if you’ve got a lot of other gear to lug. I bought a couple (you guessed it!) at Costco last year. I remember one surprisingly cold game where I even passed one over to the boys warming the bench!
The one pictured above is selling at Amazon (and there are others there, too).
Trusty Item #6: Cinch Bags
I’ve decided I really, really hate lugging around a purse at a soccer game or while racing around a cross country course to get a better view of my kids. My solution? A cinch bag. You can throw just what you need in it, plus you get your hands free! My kids use these for cross country meets as they are perfect to keep a set of clean, warm sweats or tote their spikes without getting spiked (ouch!).
They are also super cheap to buy. I’m digging the set of the 10 colorful cinch bags pictured above. They are currently just around $15 for the lot of them on Amazon! Bonus: you’ll have a color to match your outfit, no matter the outfit! Or color code them for family members, sports, what have you.
Trusty Item #7: Camping Chairs
I would like to think this one is fairly obvious, but it’s nice to have a place to park your behind when you have to be out there for an hour or two! Usually, we’ll set up the chairs, open the blankets, set down the thermos, and then I’ll adjust the settings on my camera for the game ahead. Kind of like my own pre-game ritual!
A couple notes about camping chairs. First, find one that’s comfy and well made because you’re going to be getting quite acquainted with it. Second, consider the size if you’ve got limited trunk/storage space. We bought some pretty awesome camping chairs about a year ago only to realize after the fact that we can only manage to get 2 of the 4 of them in there at any given time. Don’t be like us.
The chair pictured above is from AmazonBasics and comes with a padded seat as well as a cooler for your beverages and another organizing pouch. I’m liking it.
There’s one final item I always make sure to bring: a happy, positive attitude. Sure, it can be tough waking up at 6 o’clock in the morning on a Saturday to drive an hour away for a sports event. But I also know these moments with my kids are short. I love being their #1 cheerleader and encouraging them to work hard at what they love to do. Your positive attitude and smile will only transfer to your kids. And then after that big, muddy match in the rain? You can all pile up into the car and head home for hot showers and hot soup. Fall sports are truly the best sports.
Parents: what else would you add to my list? What are the “must haves” that you’re always sure to have on hand?