PARENTING Kids' practices are a perfect 'me' time
By CARLA WHEELER
Some parents see their child's sports practice as a chance to put up their feet and relax for a few hours. Professional organizer Barbara Myers sees something else -- spare time.
"Practice -- whether it's soccer, ballet, baseball or music lessons -- is found time for Mom or Dad if it is planned for and used well," said Myers, an Ohio mother and author of "Your Complete Guide to Organized Parenting."
"Many people waste those little bits of time we all have when we're sitting in a doctor's office or waiting for the kids after school."
A fitting activity
For Cecilia Serran and Rima Deeb, their sons' soccer practice morphs into the women's weekly workout.
Serran, 35, and Deeb, 25, don T-shirts and stretch pants and march around the perimeter of the field at Nellie Coffman Middle School while the boys on the Lions team roar around on the grass, kicking and blocking soccer balls.
"I [usually] don't make time for myself. There's no 'me' time," said Serran, of Cathedral City, Calif., who realized that walking meshed perfectly with her sons' soccer practice. "Otherwise, I will be lazy."
Deeb would rather exercise than sit on the grass and read magazines or do paperwork, which some other parents do to pass the time. "I like to walk," said the Rancho Mirage woman. "It gives me more energy."
Many soccer moms like to use their children's practice time to improve their own physical fitness, said Gillian Cross, with Region 1200 of the American Youth Soccer Organization. "You know, you have to fit that exercise in when you can," she said.
But walking is just one way to constructively use the spare time, Myers said.
She also suggests parents supervising their children at practice can:
UDraft to-do lists.
UOrganize photo albums. Most people say they wish they could find time to label and place pictures in the family album. "This is a wonderful opportunity to catch up," Myers said.
UClean out purses, wallets or briefcases.
ULeaf through catalogs looking for holiday or birthday gifts. Bring along a pen and sticky notes to mark the items you're considering buying.
URead for business or pleasure.
UListen to motivational tapes.
USpend one-on-one time with your other children, perhaps reading to them.
Reason to be there
Though some people may be tempted to bring a computer notebook to the soccer field and start catching up on work from the office, Myers and other parents caution them to remember the reason they've accompanied their children to practice.
"I believe parents instinctively know when their kids need extra attention," Myers said. "On those days, focus on the practice."
Ann Raish of Hemet uses the time her 16-year-old son spends practicing to hit the books with her 11-year-old, to go to the bookstore for reading and refreshments, or just to take a walk with the younger child.
"A lot of the moms prefer sitting back and watching their kids," said Raish, who also believes that's time well-spent. "It forces you to relax. You can't do laundry. You can't do anything except de-stress."