It's been almost a year since little M's first football season. For some people, baby's first football season isn't a big deal, but for coaching families, players' families and super-fans, it's a monumental year! It also can be a little nerve-wracking. At the kickoff of last season I lived in a small town, with a small football staff, no family, few friends and a 2 month old baby. Not only did we attend scrimmages and all of the home games on Saturdays, to cheer on our coach's team, we also watched our fair share of college football on TV - and even made it back to my hometown for 2 big sellout weekends for the CSU Rams! If I can do it - you can do it too! I'm pretty sure our little Rookie made it to more games before she was 6 months old than I did in my first 16 years of life! It can be stressful handling game day with a new baby, so here are a few things I learned in the first year to help you enjoy it with your newest little fan!
1. Wear your baby - When I went to games alone, I ALWAYS wore my Boba Wrap. I had this one. I now have an Ergo like THIS which would be great too with an infant insert. She was still little enough that she liked to sleep in it, so she typically slept for at least part of the game. It also gave me hands free for things like tickets, eating and clapping!! When I had family with me, there were usually enough people that all wanted to hold her so I didn't bother with the wrap, but I highly recommend it to save your arms!
2. Do your research ahead of time - get on your athletic team's website or find a fellow seasoned mama to ask about things like stroller accessibility, places to nurse or heat a bottle, what you can bring into the game, if there are changing tables somewhere, how close you can park, etc. Knowing these details can help you have a game plan going in. When we went to big games with tailgating, I would use the stroller at the tailgate and then wear her once we were headed into the stadium. I also chose to bring pumped bottles rather than nurse (just a personal preference). Insiders Tip: ask the concession stand for a cup of hot water to dunk a bottle in to warm it up. It's usually free and heats it up really well!
3. Ask for help - Having an extra set of hands from family or friends can really really make a huge difference (I didn't always have this). If you don't have friends or family to come to a game with you, try to hook up with other football families. Those mama's have all been where you are and are usually more than willing to help. Even if it's just to have someone to sit and chat with, it will make the whole game experience much more fun! I didn't want to leave little M home for games because the reality of our family is football games on Saturdays and I wanted her to experience that from the beginning. But that doesn't mean you can't bring a sitter along with you!
4. Pack a backpack - I didn't use a backpack as a diaper bag typically (although I probably will next time around!) but I definitely found they were the perfect solution on game day. I didn't have to worry about a bag falling off my shoulder and they zip up so nothing will fall out in the stands (theoretically). Be sure to come prepared with extra diapers, milk, pacifiers and clothing. There can be big temperature swings in the fall so be sure to have layers for your little one. We went to some really cold games last year where Little M actually wore her snowsuit! You may also want to bring headphones to protect their little ears from loud stadium noises. Canons, marching bands and crazy fans can be really loud for their little ears and covering them up can also help drown out noise for sleeping. I didn't use any last year but I probably should have! I've heard these are really good.
5. Give yourself some slack - Every game is going to be a little bit different. You can be totally prepared and it still won't go the way you had planned. It's not going to be like the old days when you could sit back, throw back a beer and jump and scream at every touchdown. You might be late to a game. You might have to leave early. You might have to spend half the game sitting quietly in the corner of the stands while your baby sleeps. You might spend the entire first half walking around trying to get your baby to stop crying. You might have to change an explosive diaper on the back of the athletic trainer's gator in a 20 degree snow storm (not that I have any experience with this... wink wink). Just know that you're doing your best. You're there supporting your team and sharing your love of football with your newest little fan. And if all else fails, go home and turn on some ESPN. That was Mak's favorite way to watch anyways!
BONUS TIP: Have Fun! Even when they are super small - it's fun to get them dressed up in team gear, put on temporary tattoos and take their pictures with the mascot. They won't remember but YOU WILL!!
To be honest, I'm much more nervous for THIS football season with a busy-body one year old to wrangle for 3 hours (all which happen to be past bedtime). I'll have to get a few games in before I pass along any gems of wisdom. Maybe there are some other coach's wives out there with tips!? I'm all ears.
How about you?
What's your biggest challenge in bringing kids to football games?
Do you have any tried and true tricks for an awesome season with kiddos?
HAVE A GREAT SEASON!
It's great to see you! I'm Alyssa and I blog about all the things I've found "essential" in my life as a fit mama and football coach's wife. You'll find all kinds of fun stuff here like workouts, oily info, football stories and more!
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