In an ideal life, the role of “coach’s wife” would have a clear job description and a paycheck, but this post isn’t about wishful thinking, it’s about avoiding landmines and freeing yourself from the guilt of unmet expectations. Adaptability is a skill that makes the coaching life a lot easier to handle. We say a lot of hellos and a lot of goodbyes each year and in between those times we strive to serve our team and staff to the best of our abilities. Even the years that don’t involve moving, we still have to deal with the emotions of transitions. Pile on uncommunicated expectations from parents, administrators, coaches’ wives, community members, and our spouse, and it’s no wonder we run on stress through the season.
It’s taken a few years and a few schools to figure out the best way to establish boundaries that work for both our family and our teams. Every year our family develops a new routine depending on the needs of those around us coupled with our responsibilities and interests. We go by the new team, new routine motto.
What I love about “new team, new routine” is that it eliminates the obligation to do something based on the rationale that it’s a tradition. It gives me time to re-evaluate my coach’s wife resume as well as permission to determine the best path forward for our family in the year ahead. Life is lived in seasons regardless of occupation.
When we are married without children there is a freedom that doesn’t exist when we have little ones who need extra time and care. The years when our kids are home are quickly followed by the season of living as empty nesters. We know it is unrealistic to expect life to stay the same year after year and yet it is hard to shake the guilt when we are no longer able to keep all the plates spinning.
New team, new routine gives me that built-in space to take some time to breathe and give our calendar a hard look. Through all the transitions, consistency in our house means that each year I assess every commitment and determine what will stay, what will go, and what new things we will add.
Embracing this motto means that each year our (now middle school-aged) sons have the freedom to explore their interests even when they have the potential to conflict with football games.
Being a coach’s wife is complicated. I want to cheer my husband on and support him as much as I can, but I’ve learned the hard way that doing so without considering my needs is a recipe for burnout. New team, new routine also helps me give myself permission to find balance between my work and ministry and my husband’s work and ministry.
So how did I discover new team, new routine?
Easy, I had a complete meltdown. The thing about burnout is that we rarely identify the symptoms until it’s too late. I’ve learned in our busyness we often establish boundaries after we need them. In the early years of our marriage I would join in on whatever team tradition needed support to keep going.
It didn’t matter if I enjoyed the tasks, it was about helping. But with each commitment my energy decreased. When stretched too thin I’m unable to accomplish anything with excellence and in many cases, everyone ends up disappointed, most of all me.
So, now, I make sure that I pause before every request to consider how each yes will affect the rest of our calendar and I also make sure to communicate that my commitment is only for a season.
New Team, new routine as a motto breathes fresh life into every season. Yes, it means a few more things to think about every fall, but with all the changes that come with a new year this motto provides the space and opportunity to ensure everyone’s preferences and interests are integrated into our family calendar.
Because every commitment is weighed intentionally, the best thing I’ve taken away from this little motto is the freedom that comes with saying no guilt free.
New team, new routine may not be the exact motto for your family to embrace, but I encourage you to take some time to find one that gives you the freedom to establish the boundaries you need to reduce your household stress levels and be your true selves.
Seasons come and go too quickly to spend them any other way.