What I Learned As Team Mom

Being the team mom on a recreational team is pretty easy. You create a snack spreadsheet for the parents and hope you get enough volunteers to provide snacks all season long. Worse case scenario, you provide snacks a few extra times. But don’t be fooled, before you volunteer or are voluntold as the team mom for your child’s travel or elite team know what you are getting into.

At the travel or elite level, you will be in charge of making sure each child is registered and has a team card. These cards are to be guarded with your life because they will be needed at every single tournament you attend. You may be in charge of ordering the uniforms, booking the rooms for tournaments and even arranging laundry for tournaments that last multiple days. Being a team mom on a travel team is work.

But that’s okay. It is also rewarding. It gives you the opportunity to meet all the parents and really get to know them. It gives you a chance to show your child how committed you are to their interests and it gives you a sense of belonging that you might not feel simply being a spectator.

The good news is that there are ways to make the job easier and even enjoyable. As a mom who has been there, let me share my top three tips.

Build your own team.
I have always been a big fan of delegating. As a team mom, I found this to be very helpful. I pulled together several moms and offered them the opportunity to help their team. We had a mom who handled the uniforms, a travel coordinator and a laundry coordinator. This left me with two main jobs. I was in charge of registering the athletes and keeping the book with the cards throughout the season and I was in charge of making sure the team knew where we were heading each week. Delegating made my job much easier.

Be the team mom, not the coach.
Although I was an avid soccer fan and a great sideline referee (if I do say so myself), for the seasons in which I was the team mom, I played dumb. When a parent wanted to talk to me about what the coach was doing wrong, what the referees were getting wrong or an athlete who was not pulling his weight, I would take a step back and say, “That’s above my paygrade. Ask the coach.” This simple sentence made the season easier for me. It distanced me from any drama and kept me from picking up extra baggage during the season. I had my duties, I knew what they were and that was where I would stay.

Communication is probably the most important part of being a team mom. Parents will look to you with questions about uniforms, registration and travel. They will call for directions, carpool and problems with the coach. By communicating early on you will be able to avoid the biggest issues. Let the parents know where they will find all the information they need. Include the link in every email you send so you don’t have to repeat yourself each week. Set ground rules that make sense for you. If you don’t want to arrange other people’s carpools let them know this up front, if you don’t want to be the go between with parents and coaches say so and if you feel like you have gotten in over your head, admit it.

Many years ago, my mother-in-law gave me the best piece of advice I have ever received. She told me that my husband can’t read my mind. If I expect flowers for Valentine’s Day I should make sure he knows that. This is a lesson I have applied throughout my life. Communicate. If you are overwhelmed say something. In the midst my last season as team mom, we had a family emergency that took over a good portion of my time. One day I found myself getting ready for the game and griping that I was too busy, why couldn’t someone else step up and help, why was I the only one… I caught myself and realized I had not told anybody what was happening in our lives. No one knew I needed help. The minute I shared what was going on in our family the our travel and uniform coordinators took over. They knew I needed to focus on my family and were willing to step in. It was an easy solution to a problem that had seemed overwhelming only hours before.

Whether you volunteered willingly or stepped in because no one else did, being a team mom can be difficult. But if you remember you are in charge, you are volunteering and you can make of the position what you want to, it can be easier. You can do it all yourself if you would rather or you can enlist the help of the other team moms. You can be a liaison between parents and coach or you can let the coach know he’s on his own there. And you can communicate your needs or hope that someone reads your mind. Being a team mom can go from difficult to enjoyable when you design the role to fit your personality.

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