In the earliest days of our marriage before kids preseason camp was not a big deal. Since we ate most meals in the dining commons, it was actually a break. The house stayed spotless because no one was home, we saved a lot of money on food, and I soaked up girl time with the other coaches’ wives.
Once our babies were born and I was home all day I found that preseason camp was something I dreaded. Although we still ate with the team, but the juggling act involved with timing naps, hunting for something the boys could eat (food allergies) or packing dinner (which kind of defeated the purpose of not cooking) was exhausting.
With exhaustion circling emotions were always frayed throughout the month as well. Our babies couldn’t understand where their faithful summer playmate had gone, and Mama just wasn’t a good enough sub.
As the boys grew up and grasped the concept of football more, we began to live for practice. Rides in the golf cart, filling water bottles, quick visites with Daddy between drills, and of course, ice cream and cereal every night at dinner. In the midst of the craziness of the years when our boys were home all day I developed a routine that has served our family well and helped us survive preseason.
Tried and True Tips for Surviving Preseason Camp
1) Do NOT refer to yourself as a “widow.”
First of all, you aren’t a widow and these days there are actual coaches’ wives who have buried their husbands due to the pandemic. You may only see your guy for an hour a day, but in a month that will increase to 2-3 hours a day and sometimes lunch dates. Attaching the phrase “football widow” to this month automatically adds a negative connotation that will have you feeling sorry for yourself and gives you permission to resent your spouse.
2) Learn something new!
Years ago a former head coach’s wife lead our staff well by creating intentional time for the wives to spend time together. We learned how to hand embroider, practiced knitting, sewed tie belts, and experimented with new recipes. I’ve taken that routine to heart and have spent part of August learning a new skill each year. One year I took a canning class and made pickles when Elijah decided he loved pickles.
3) Purge the Closets
I discovered early in our marriage that if I got rid of something in August, it wouldn’t be a big deal in December. At first, I used this power to get rid of the annoying bedside light and the extra boxes in storage I didn’t like. As our boys out grew clothes and toys, I discovered August was a great month for garage sales. Now-a-days with back to school sales the boys and I go through all their clothes and figure out what they need to start the school year. I keep a bin in our garage and anything we have outgrown or aren’t using with goes in the bin. When the bin is full we drop it off at the local donation center.
4) One last fun thing.
When we lived near STL, we would squeeze in one last zoo trip to close out the summer. When we lived in Virgina we picked blueberries. Every year we will find something local to do one day while dad is away. We may go to a restaurant they love or just headout for dessert. It doesn’t really matter what it is, it’s more about having a fun day out before school starts up.
5) Hang out at practice.
My boys used to think the football field was just a big playground. They had special games to around the field and also spent time watching drills and catching up with their favorite players. Being at practice helps the kids to feel a part of all the chaos, and it helps me begin to connect names and faces. PS-they have also been known to have the occasional lightsaber war on the field to the delight of the players.
6) Girls Night!
When the husbands are busy it’s the perfect time to spend the evening catching up on chick flicks, shopping, or even discussing a book together. Once the season is off and running there’s rarely time for extended fun so take advantage!
7) Freezer cook.
Having a few meals in the freezer makes the rest of the season run smoother. I’ll take time to bake up gluten free muffins for breakfasts. Chicken dump recipes, taco meat, homemade pesto sauce, and freezer jam take time to put together but are wonderful to grab on a busy day.
If preseason camp is over take these tips and try a few on a weekend when you aren’t traveling to a game! It’s never a bad time for girls night.
For More Preseason Thoughts Buy Lessons from the Sidelines
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.