Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Juggling Hockey and the Holidays

What words come to mind when you think of the holidays? Peace, love and joy? Or travel, tournaments and stress? Hockey families execute a delicate act of balancing school events, holiday parties, family gatherings, practices, games, tournaments. It's as stressful as a one goal lead in a game seven playoff.

The holidays are a lot like hockey in another way: Winning efforts come to those who plan. So here are a few tips from my life and the lives of my hockey friends:)

Having a visual game plan can be one of the best ways to keep the family least a little bit more sane and organized during crazy holidays.

I use a dry erase calendar to keep my home team in line. Place it in the kitchen or the family room. That way your family can see what’s coming up, when to say no, and work as a team to tackle the many tasks of the season. Mark down work, school, hockey and family commitments and schedule holiday shopping, baking and even gift wrapping.

You can count on conflicts in the schedule, so setting up a car pool might be the next best thing to Santa's sleigh. Parents are always willing to pitch in and help shuttle the kids to their destinations. Make sure you return the favor.

Make your list, check it twice and as my hockey mom friend Caroline Stanistreet suggests, do the mom and dad timeshare. One parent goes to the tournament games and the other stays home to clean or cook. As long as you are both there for the championship game, your kids will understand.

I admire Skaneateles hockey mom Shannon Proud too, for always finding unique gifts at shops near the rinks. Her kids get their practices in, and she painlessly gets to whittle down the holiday wish list. A little online shopping on on the phone during intermissions can give you that home team advantage.

Lose the guilt, and cheat! Go ahead and cut corners during this crazy season. If the holiday tournament calls for parents to supply food, don’t feel guilty about picking up a couple of pizzas or buying one of those family sized frozen macaroni and cheese dinners. Doctor it up with a little seasoning and toss it in a crockpot. You'll satisfy a hungry crowd, save time and make money for the team. A lot of planning and a little compromising can go a long way. Wishing you and your family peace, love, joy and an insulated stocking full of great hockey for the holidays!

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