It’s Never Too Late to Encourage Kids’ Sports and Exercise

Paulette Cercega//May 3, 2021

It’s Never Too Late to Encourage Kids’ Sports and Exercise

Paulette Cercega//May 3, 2021

Last month, after more than 12 months of abiding by state and local COVID guidelines and starting a new full-time contract job, I felt as if I’d fallen behind the eight ball as a mom.

As I was wrapping up work one afternoon, it dawned on me: “I don’t think my kids have hung out or played with any friends for at least a month!” Sadly, I was right.

Although we live in a neighborhood filled with kids, and it’s a great place, I’ll admit it’s a little cliquey at times. Which is a typical childhood development thing – especially when, as in our case, our kids’ ages don’t line up perfectly with many of the other kids.

Another contributing factor to the lack of socialization was the fact that it was the beginning of April. The weather was still very windy and brisk. We were all pretty much over the cold. My kids even said at a few points, “I don’t feel like biking/scootering over to Billy’s house. It’s too cold!”

However, that afternoon, I realized that another key reason we hadn’t seen friends, other than chilly or rainy weather, was the fact that we enrolled our kids in a cyber charter school last fall, thanks to the pandemic. My kids were no longer making plans to meet up with their friends after school on the school bus ride home, because they weren’t attending their regular school. It was definitely a case of out of sight, out of mind.

To top it off, sometime in early March most of the neighborhood friends were now back at organized school-related sports activities: baseball, soccer, track, lacrosse.

Even so, to be clear, this year I never even thought of signing my kids up for spring sports for a few reasons:

1) COVID restrictions weren’t fully lifted.

2) I was immersed in my job and it didn’t even occur to me.

3) To be honest, we normally don’t do organized sports anymore.

You see, my kids aren’t team sports kind of people. We’re OK with this in regular times. Not every kid or family is cut out to be the kind that devotes 80 percent of their non-school time on the soccer field multiple times a week.

I am a mom who feels blessed to not have kids involved in travel sports, or even rec sports. It takes a level of commitment and financial devotion that we don’t believe pays off, except maybe if your child is begging you to play, you come from an Olympic-level lineage, or you enjoy getting bedbugs from the hotel near the tournament site (ha ha).

So yes, while some families thrive with the rigorous schedule of organized sports, we usually flourish with more unstructured fitness offerings like skateboarding, snowboarding, hiking, running and yoga. Yep, you know it! We’re more of the individual, non-organized sports breed.

The key word here is “usually.” Because this year, as we all know, nothing is “usual.” Normally, not being involved in team sports would be OK. We’d make up for any lack of socialization through brick-and-mortar school, church and knocking on neighbors’ doors, or by hiking, skateboarding or riding bikes.

However, this year, and on that day earlier this spring, it just hit me. I needed to sign my non-competitive kid up for a sport!

Any sport of his choice. It didn’t matter if the season had already begun. Nor that he hadn’t played in rec sports since age 3. It needed to happen. And so, after asking him which he’d like to try again, I signed my youngest up for our local rec soccer league. They accepted him with open arms.

For my middle daughter, who is about to turn 13, the thought of joining a competitive sports team was a hard “no.” But I did convince her to sign up for Pilates and we continue to encourage her to work out in our basement.

My oldest, age 14, continues his skateboarding passion, and this week was a new win because I finally convinced him to try running. I showed him the Couch to 5K app, and he tried it and said he liked it!

Later this spring (May 23, June 6, June 13), all three of my kids (and hopefully some friends) will participate in Kickballapalooza, a Sunday afternoon kickball event hosted by Derry Township’s Joy of Sports Foundation. Kids of any fitness level, grades three through eight, are encouraged to sign up. I hope some of you will decide to join us.

To register, please visit Spring Kickballapalooza.

Whatever you decide, I wish you and your family the best in finding the perfect physical activity for your kids.

For more writings about the adventures of “momming,” please visit Paulette’s blog, Just Three Pumpkins.

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