My twin girls attended their first high school homecoming football game when they were 5-months-old. At the time, my son was in the seventh grade. And, my husband was out on the field coaching.
We already had a few games under our belt so another Friday night was not a challenge. Until it got unseasonably cold. And, my girls were in their darling dresses with only a couple of blankets in the double stroller. My son wanted to stay for the game. The girls and I left.
After having changed my girls into their PJs, getting in another feeding, putting them to bed, I had to go back and get my son. Tears and tears that turned into sobs (all mine) found me thinking on how to prevent this in the future.
One, don’t come without extra blankets and jackets. Two, don’t leave your son – he comes home when you do.
Third, 7th-grade babysitters.
My son had friends who wanted to be busy on a Friday, but didn’t know what that meant quite yet. I figured that out for them.
For the next five years, each football game involved me picking up a babysitter who became my second pair of hands. They helped me unload the stroller in the early years and ran to the concession stand countless times when the girls were older.
That service cost me concession stand snacks, a stop at a fast-food restaurant on the way home and a $10 bill.
That service saved my mind.
Eventually, when my son got older, I was able to watch him when he played for my husband. I could feel confident someone I knew was loving on my girls. Yes, I watched my girls, too. I helped feed them. I changed diapers and I held them if they needed to be soothed. I didn’t ignore them. It simply wasn’t a solo effort.
Having a seventh-grade babysitter isn’t my only sanity-saving tip. The other practice I put into place early on that made a major difference in our arrival home routine – putting on PJs in the back of my Suburban in the parking lot after the game.
My girls would fall asleep on the car ride home and I could simply lift up the carrier or take them out of the car seat and put them into their cribs or beds. The babysitter and I would quickly throw off shoes and game-day clothes and pop on PJs. The girls squirmed when they were babies, but laughed through it as five-year-olds.
So how do you find the 7th-grade babysitters if your son isn’t in that grade? Or, if you aren’t connected to a middle school?
- Look around the stadium on Friday nights. I bet there are siblings to players, teachers, administrators or coaches. Bonus – no pick up, they are already there.
- Ask at your church. Youth groups have kids who want to help.
- Call a middle school and speak to the National Junior Honor Society sponsor. Those kids need service hours and are typically your top-of-the-class students and leaders.
- Post a message in a neighborhood Facebook group.
With all of these, you can conduct a run-through at a game or ask the sitter to come to your house one afternoon so you can watch them with your children. How about a Saturday when your coach is at film?
I recently came across the mums we had made for the girls’ first homecoming game. So tiny. I had pinned them on their dresses so hopeful for a memorable night. Oh, we had memories but not of a song we danced to . . .