We’ve all been enjoying the amazing run the Little Leaguers from Sammamish have had so far in their bid for the World Series title. But there’s a new survey that says the highly competitive world of youth sports is causing too much stress for moms – hurting their jobs and even their marriages.
Janie Freeman is a Seattle mom who juggles a full-time job while raising two young athletes. She and her husband have figured out how to make it work without too much stress. “They both play football, basketball, and they played youth baseball. Our year goes from one sports season to the other without much of a break in between.”
Freeman says, “Because we both work, I’d say the toughest part about scheduling is that they can get to practices, so we do have an after school babysitter that drives them around, even though they don’t really need a babysitter.”
But a survey of 400 moms of kids in organized sports shows a growing number of moms are feeling overwhelmed by the craziness and pressure that goes along with competitive sports.
“When you’re talking about having multiple kids in multiple sports and dual-income families really being on the rise while mom and dad are trying to figure who’s going to get which kids to which sport or to which practice – then that burden is there,” says April Thomas.
Thomas is with i-9 sports, a nationwide youth sports league franchise that emphasizes fun over competition. They conducted the survey and found that two-thirds of moms feel youth sports cause too much stress in their lives.
Nearly a fourth of surveyed mothers admit it causes conflict with their significant other, whether it’s arguing over how much money they spend or which sport their kid should play. More than half say they worry their child’s self-esteem suffers when they don’t play well.
“When you feel like your child is the one that’s sitting on the bench, the parents are looking at you a little bit differently because your child isn’t the one getting the big hit or scoring the big run,” says Thomas. “There’s a pressure there and moms definitely cited those concerns in the survey.”
For moms who work, two-thirds of those surveyed say their kids’ sports interfere with their jobs. Some even said they lost out on promotions because of what Thomas describes as the “practice and play til’ you drop” culture.
“I feel that burden quite often. So just thinking about how to balance the pressures of work and meetings and getting your kids involved to the activities as they’re scheduled, that causes a lot of stress out there,” says Thomas.
The survey shows 76 percent of the moms were happy when their children’s sports season is over.
“I’m a mom and I have my kids in multiple sports and while we really look forward to seeing them play on the field. Sometimes, you know, you find yourself wiping your hand across your brow. You’re just tired,” says Thomas. “Finally, that last game has come and gone and you can take a deep breath.”
For Freeman, she doesn’t have much time to catch her breath because competitive sports is a year-round deal. But she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It’s a big part of what our family does and we have an awful lot of fun doing it. I can’t imagine it not being a part of our lives. I was an athlete myself and played three sports in high school. So for me, it’s a natural part of life and it’s such a great part of growing up and being part of a team.”