It’s official. I’ve become a soccer mom. After a couple of game-ending cramps and a few lethargic practices, I realized I needed to up my game in order to support theirs. Here are 5 tips to support your active kids — i.e. things you might be doing wrong without realizing it.
Wrong Pre-Activity Meal
This might be the only time where you can actually be excited when your kid refuses to eat anything but plain pasta. Believe it or not, you actually don’t want your kids eating a ton of whole grains or veggies right before because those are harder to digest. Instead, feed them basic carbs with a basic protein and nothing too heavy or fatty about 3 hours before they play. That way they’ll have time to digest and that food will become their energy source. More go-tos for us are peanut butter and jelly and oatmeal with milk. If your kid is anything like Brooks, he’ll announce just as you’re walking out the door for practice that he’s starving. In that time frame, you want to stick to something like crackers or piece of fruit.
Hydrating too much, too late or too sugary. Before your kids even start playing sports you know how dangerous dehydration can be. But it’s not as easy as having them guzzle water 15 minutes before they play. You need to get started earlier having them drink water throughout the day. Also, too much water about an hour before they play can cause cramps. For any typical activity like bike riding, or an hour of dance or soccer practice all they really need is water every 15 mins or so. But when your kids start getting into multiple activities a day it’s great to rehydrate them with something that provides an electrolyte replacement and carbohydrate source like a sports drink. My kids are super into K+ and in addition to looking cool and tasting great it’s free of artificial flavors and colors and doesn’t have an insane amount of sugar. The kids love all the flavors and it has the added benefit of being organic, which of course, I love.
Incomplete Recovery Food
Next time you’re snack mom skip the juice and animal cookies and instead score points with the kids AND parents by bringing chocolate milk as the post-game snack. It turns out that chocolate milk is the perfect recovery food because it has a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein. Carbs help restore energy to muscles and protein helps them to rebuild. Other great ideas are bagels with cream cheese, apple with almond butter, or of course, some power balls.
Neglecting to Stretch
Avery actually strained her calf after not warming up properly, and that’s when I learned how important stretching is even for kids. They may be resilient, but they’re not immune to injury. You want them doing it both before and after an activity – and yoga counts too!
Just like adults, kids can use a little extra care when they’ve been working hard. Brookes loves Epsom salt baths to help replenish magnesium which allows his little muscles to recover more quickly. A little massage doesn’t hurt either!