When our boys were younger, Ordell would pack up and hit the recruiting trail as soon as the football season was over. His time away wasn’t terribly long. However, it often ran right into the holidays. The football season is difficult for young coaches’ kids. Adding overnight recruiting trips on top of that was trying for all of us. By the end of the season, I was running out of steam and heading toward burnout. Once the boys were both in school full time, the days went by pretty quickly. But we were still on our own in the evenings.
Over those years, I learned that the best way to get through the weeks of recruiting trips was to plan. For example, if I didn’t have a few meals in the freezer, I would run through the drive-thru more frequently than we could afford. Today I’m going to share my top tips for surviving recruiting trips.
Tips for Surviving Recruiting Trips
- Cook dinner: Make sure you are all eating healthy, (especially during flu season). This also saves you money! I have found that it’s hard to cook for just me and the kids. I end up with a lot of leftovers, and I don’t want to eat the same thing every night. So, I’ll make a few meals and portion them out in single servings and freeze them ahead of time.
- Schedule activities: Recruiting trips are the perfect time to invite over friends who you don’t get to see very often. Schedule a fun activity your kids have been begging to do and surprise them with an afterschool adventure.
- Get out of the house! It’s critical for your own sanity that you find time for adult conversation. Have coffee with a girlfriend, or cash in that pedicure gift certificate. Don’t use your lunch hour to run errands. Instead, schedule time with a friend. The errands will be there another day.
- Have a reward to look forward to. We have found that giving our kids something to look forward to helps tremendously with attitudes. Some people will look at this as a bribe, but choose rewards that are things we would do regardless if there were something attached to it ahead of time. For example, when we returned from the convention, we took the boys out for a family day that involved playing games and eating dinner at a place similar to Chuck E Cheese. We had promised this adventure for a while and rewarding the boys not only helped them behave while we were gone but they appreciated the time they had “earned.”
- Text throughout the day. Now, Coach isn’t going to always be able to reply immediately, but texting throughout the day reminds you both that you are thinking about each other.
- Plan a girls’ night! Remember, on a football staff while your husband is gone it’s likely other wives’ husbands are also on the road. Have everyone for dinner and a chick flick.
- Focus on the positives: a week of the house staying a bit cleaner, not fighting over the remote, quiet evenings, and a chance to catch up on purging isn’t the worst thing every once in a while.
- Tackle a project: Every time Coach takes a long trip, my husband knows he will enter a home that has changed in some way. Sometimes it’s newly shampooed carpets. Other times it’s purged closets, a painted bathroom, or re-arranged furniture.
- Catch up on work: I know this isn’t “fun” but sometimes it’s nice to knock out something practical. The holidays are just around the corner and it might be worth it to work ahead on a few things.
- Get some Christmas shopping done: The best way to ensure Coach doesn’t see those boxes piling up is to shop for him when he’s out of town.
We all know that the coaching life doesn’t end with the last game. As you transition from one season to the next it’s important to remember that you and your Coach are a team. It’s so important to implement self-care into every season.
Looking For More Tips About the Coaching Life?
As the wife of a football coach, Beth Walker encourages women whose families are in the public eye to pursue their own callings even as they support their husbands’ careers and ministries. Through her personal stories as well as interviews with other women who are also living just outside their husbands’ limelight, Beth shows it’s possible to do both.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on January 15, 2010, and has been updated in November 2021 for freshness, accuracy, and completeness.