If you speak with coaching families, you might hear one theme amongst mamas. Midseason exhaustion. I have to admit when my kids were younger, and coach was balancing getting his master’s degree and coaching college football full-time, things were a lot harder. Regardless, every mama hits her limit. No one can carry the full-time load for their entire family every day without help. This is even more exacerbated with the mama who also is working full time because there are more expectations from additional people to manage on a daily basis. Burnout is no joke. We need to stay attentive to our stress levels so we can avoid hitting a wall of exhaustion.
Coaching requires a lot of time from the staff. Hundreds of hours are devoted not only to preparing for the game that week but recruiting, staff development, personal growth, team leadership development, campus relations, and often teaching classes as well. It’s common for a coach to go a day or two each week in the season without seeing their family when kids are young. Coaching families who coach at the college and professional levels where these long hours are most common understand and accept this commitment but that doesn’t take away the exhaustion.
Avoid a Burnout Wall During the Season
Each family is different, here are a few things we have found that work for us:
1) Dad takes over a few hours of “kid management.” For us, this meant coach delaying recruit calls a few hours last week and focused on the boys when they were awake. They had his undivided attention from 7-8 pm a few days a week.
2) Staff dinner. We decided it was worth the effort to get the boys to dinner once a week at the office to see Dad that night.
3) Communication. There are many moments when we are just going to feel emotional and we need to give each other the space to feel frustrated. There are other times when we need our partners to step in and voice their perspectives. The challenge is that our partner won’t know which time is which without our request.
4) Permission to hire a sitter. There is this whole mom guilt thing that happens during the season. The kids are already not seeing dad, and now you are deserting them too. It’s something to get over quickly. My kids LOVE having a sitter. They love the break and frankly, so do I! Stash away a little cash for the end of the season and take a day or a few hours when dad is away and get away by yourself!
5) Calendar countdown. “It’s only a few more weeks.” We try to get away for an overnight after the season. Knowing that I will get some undivided attention soon seems to relax the stress as well.
6) After the season, work to integrate coach back into the family routine immediately. Give up some of the chores. Assign him a day of cooking dinner. Hand over morning duty with the kids or surrender bedtime so coach can re-establish his authority with the kids. It’s not that he has lost his power, it’s just that after 4-5 months where his presence has been spotty the kids are used to asking mom for everything.
7) Let coach be a dad…alone. Yes, things have been done a certain way up until now, but it’s time to transition, and if you want that help you have been longing for, you need to surrender the control.
8) Focus on your health. Cook healthier, force yourself to exercise, take that class you have been delaying due to the busyness of the season. It’s ok to start now, I promise.
The best way to avoid hitting a wall is to practice self-care as frequently as possible. This is most difficult during the season, however, you can re-establish a routine once the games have wrapped up for the year.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on February 14, 2015, and has been updated in November 2021 for freshness, accuracy, and completeness.