Being a good parent is tricky work. It involves walking a narrow line between giving your child enough freedom to become a confident, happy adult and keeping them safe enough that they live to see that point. Childhood sports teams live right in that gray area of knowing that the activity is good for your child but worrying your fool head off every time they get a scrape or bruise. Of all the sports available to young and growing children, soccer is by far one of the most popular. It’s easy to play, you can get started very early in life, and there’s something about running up and down a field after that black and white ball that fascinates almost all humans, young or old. So while you’re cheering for your child from the stands, you can enjoy the moment more by knowing that you are prepared for absolutely anything.
1) Sturdy Backpack or Sports Bag
The first step to your ultimate checklist is to have a place to hold everything you’ll want to have on hand. Make sure to have a spacious bag with a lot of pockets to sort things into. You may also want a collection of smaller bags, sub-compartments, and zip-up kits that will be easier to fish out than individual items. The bag should be at least water resistant, easy to carry, and ideally in your child’s favorite color.
2) First Aid Kit
First and foremost (after the bag) you want to be prepared for the usual scrapes and bruises. Soccer rarely results in serious injuries but there are plenty of skinned knees and elbows and the occasional bloody nose. You’ll want to have a fairly well supplied first aid kit just in case your child isn’t the only one who needs a quick patch-up.
Make sure to have:
- Sterile Gauze Packs
- Anti-Biotic Ointment
- Ace Elastic Bandage
- Paper Tape
- Instant Cold Pack
- Child-Safe Pain Killers
- Cotton Nose Plugs
3) Large Beach Towel
If there’s one thing that occurs out on the soccer field, it’s sweat. Your child will run in to you time and time again covered, often dripping with sweat. Just being able to towel off their face and hands with something you can easily throw in the washer will help with their comfort and happiness. Plus, you never know when you might need a towel.
4) Spare Change of Clothes
You’d be surprised how often the spare change of clothes sees use, especially if your child likes to be clean when they’re not sliding victoriously through the grass and mud. For younger kids, bathroom accidents can happen because they’re having too much fun playing to stop and find a potty. While these accidents are not out of the question for older kids, they are more likely to want to change in the car just to feel a little cleaner. Finally, just in case of injury, a change of clothes let them change out of a bloodied shirt, shorts, or socks.
5) Water Bottles
For a single child, pack three or four water bottles. Three with ice and one without just in case the cold water is a problem mid-game. Remember that you’ll probably end up drinking from these bottles as well and it never hurts to have an extra in case a fellow parent or another child finds themselves without proper hydration. If you want to provide electrolytes, stay away from the sugar-packed store-bought sports drinks and try making your own instead.
Never underestimate the sun’s power. You can put on sunscreen at the beginning of a practice or game then and your child can still have an across-the-nose sunburn by the end of the day. Re-apply sunscreen about once an hour and don’t forget to get slightly above the sleeve and shorts line because fabric moves around. Cloudy days are no exception even if your child argues that they are. If you want to be a hero, bring an enormous bottle of sunscreen and take care of any kids whose parents were less prepared.
7) Extra Gear
Soccer gear tends to be pretty sturdy but just in case of rough play or unexpected equipment failure, bring an extra set of cleats and shin guards. This way, if your child’s shoe comes apart mid-game, you’ll have them back on the field in no time rather than facing an unfair benching.
8) A Warm Sweater
Playing hard makes significant changes to your child’s body temperature. First they warm up, then they heat up, then they cool down. When you cool down after an intense workout, sometimes you cool down too much. Sweat evaporates and your child may start to shiver. Be prepared for this moment and have a comfy jacket or sweater that can be easily laundered to wrap around them after games or practices end.
9) Accidental Injury Insurance
Now that you’ve got the ultimate soccer parent kit, you’re ready to sit in the stands cheering or being quietly supportive while your child rocks out in the field. While soccer rarely yields more than a scrape or sprain, it’s also important to be prepared for those occasional scenarios in which someone ends up with a broken bone or serious abrasion. The final step in easing your worried parent mind as you watch your child careen around with other children is a backup plan in the form of accidental injury insurance. Your health insurance may cover trips to the doctor, but an accidental injury plan will pay you for days taken off of work and chicken soup ingredients.
Watching your child play soccer doesn’t have to be nerve-wracking as long as you have a plan. With the right preparation kit and financial backing just in case the worst should happen, you can rest easy and relax enough to really get into each soccer game without worrying about the potential consequences. Scraped elbows and bloody noses will happen and it’s okay as long as you’re covered for the big stuff.