Things I’ve learned about Saturday Sport

Our 5th season as rugby parents has just come to a close, and with that our washing machine, gumboots, weekday evenings and Saturday mornings breathe a collective sigh of relief!

Don’t get me wrong, we LOVE rugby, but it’s a big commitment at J1 level – and the commitment is required by the whole family, not just Ethan.

In terms of wins, it wasn’t the greatest season for the team.  In terms of intangible personal growth and the cementing of lifelong friendships for both players and their parents (I hope!) – it was a cracker season.

That’s the beauty of sport.  For boys Ethan’s age, (those navigating the notoriously up-and-down pre-teen Chasm of Angst) having an outlet that is theirs is a must.  They need to be able to forget about who they are ‘supposed’ to be at school or at home, forget about the pressure of growing up while still feeling like a little boy at times and simply focus on a single ball – without the distractions of homework, chores and devices.

Sport can be an amazing respite for both growing minds and parents alike!

Things I’ve learnt about Saturday Sports

  • It doesn’t matter which sport it is, it’s ALL good.  Sports code snobbery exists to some degree, other parents will tell you up and down that soccer/rugby/hockey is the absolute BEST sport for EVERY kid.  Ignore.  The best sport is the one your child enjoys!  Ethan played 2 seasons of soccer before transitioning to rugby and enjoyed every second of it.
  • You can only be *THAT* parent for so long before your loud, bad attitude gets you kicked off the field and your kid is embarrassed by your sideline coaching/bullying.  Just don’t go there guys!
  • Tired kids can’t hang.  It’s so tempting to throw bedtimes out the door on Friday night, but it might pay to reconsider how late you let your little athlete stay up.  Kids enjoy their activities so much more when they are full of energy and can give 100%.
  • You’re going to get cold and wet.  Really wet.  Always keep a large umbrella in your car and expect game time to be colder than you think.
  • Kids playing field sports will get muddier than you can possibly imagine.  Keep a plastic bin in the car for muddy boots and gear and wrap kids up on old towels for the ride home.
  • Just like their mates Tired Kids, Hungry Kids struggle to get up and at ‘em on the sports field.  Make time for breakfast before the game, even if it means cutting your Saturday sleep-in a bit short (I’ve heard sleeping in exists but it’s a total myth in my house lol).  Also be prepared for ravenous kids after the match.  Pack some easily portable, nutritious snacks such as nuts, fruit, vege sticks plus plenty of water.  Pro-Tip: a warm thermos of MILO will do wonders for chilled hands and tummies plus has a 4.5 star health rating!

Choosing wellness for ourselves and our families is something that we all consider (and are reminded of constantly!) but honestly, sometimes it becomes difficult to prioritize and can seem really overwhelming, especially when you’re doing the parenting juggling act!

Implementing one small change at a time can help make lasting differences.  For example, using the points above, focus on earlier bedtimes for the whole family (Mum and Dad included!) one week, try working on better – more relaxed/more nutritious/less stressy breakfasts the following week.

For more inspiration and lots of tips to help you make small, positive changes in your life take the Nestlé Choose Wellness Quiz here.

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Winter Rugby – Our Great Kiwi Saturday Morning Ritual

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The 2016 rugby season has just about wrapped up for us.  Ethan’s J1 team played their last game together on Saturday, a huge milestone as 18 out of the 22 boys are heading off to high school next year.  Saying goodbye to the rugby club and teammates you’ve played with since you were 5 (or younger!) is a big deal for both parents and players alike – whether the boys would admit that or not is a different story of course!

Ethan’s played rugby for 6 years now, and I’ve managed his team for most of those seasons.  Saturday morning is for rugby.

End of story.

This year our family was even more committed to the oval ball as Dave joined our friends and played his debutante year in the President’s (Over 35) division.

Edit:  Saturday, in it’s entirety, is for rugby.

One of the perks of running the rugby gauntlet all the way to J1 is that kick-off is at the leisurely (when you have kids!) hour of 10.40am.  That leaves plenty of time to enjoy a slow start to the day – complete with a hot breakfast of oats and a warm MILO – and just enough time to laze in your pajamas a bit too long, so even though you had plenty of time it’s always a mad rush to get everyone ready and out the door. Ahhhh Saturday, you’re actually just like every other day but with a different uniform lol.

As Saturdays stretch from 10am when Ethan’s warmup begins to 4pm when Dave’s game wraps up, Ethan’s rugby bag needs to be well stocked with LOTS of food and water.  He is usually one of the Touch Judges for his dad’s afternoon game and would fade like a flower if he hadn’t managed to refuel properly after his own game.  As part of his Saturday lunchbox, I’ve been slipping in a MILO ready to drink to keep him going for the afternoon.  Ethan’s not a big milk drinker so as well as ensuring he’s actually taking on-board enough calories for the day, I’m stoked because I know he’s going to get 50% of his daily calcium requirement from one 200ml Tetra pak.

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I have really busy, really active boys.  If Ethan and Nixon are barely slowing to eat it’s really important to me that what I can get into them is nourishing, addresses at least some of their nutritional requirements and gives them the energy they need to get back outside/on the field/in the mud!  If food is not fit-for-purpose then young boys simply won’t stop to eat.  When Ethan’s on a rugby bender all day on a Saturday, he’s going to opt for quick, convenient and ‘attractive’ options that don’t slow him down for too long.  MILO ready to drink has an impressive 4.5 star health rating and when combined with the other nutritious components in Ethan’s packed lunch, it ticks all the boxes and 99% of the time pre-empts the call of the greasy chips at the rugby club tuck shop.

That’s a choice I’m happy with.

Choosing wellness and teaching our kids to do the same is an integral part of modern parenting.  Encouraging active play, participation in fun, outdoor activities and getting bums off couches is something that unites all parents as we strive to do the best we can for our kids and ourselves.

Check out the new Nestle Choose Wellness website, take the Wellness Quiz and gain a little perspective on how you might be able to integrate small, meaningful changes into your daily life.

Win with Nestle!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Rugby

If you would like to win an amazing Nestle Choose Wellness Prize Pack valued at $150 , just share a wellness tip in the comments below.

NZ residents only, competition closes 15/10/16.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Rugby

Thanks so much to the MILO team for sponsoring this post and treating our rugby team to MILO after their final club game for 2016!

Rugby | Dear Rochelle and Eljae

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Rugby WeightFor 6 years now Ethan has played rugby for our local club.  We have lived, breathed and loved rugby each winter for each of those years and look forward to doing it all over again with Nixon – god help us!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Rugby WeightE missed his first game ever as we prepared for my Dad’s funeral the next day.  Every freezing, wet Saturday since, I have sadly remembered that Dad never got to see how wonderfully perfect Ethan is for the game, or just how perfect the game is for him. 

The road to J1 has not been all tackles and tries however.  You’re probably aware by now that Dave and I knock out some spectacularly sized kids.  Epic, bouncing boys full of vim and vigour, boys literally BORN to get in the scrum and celebrate their imminent cauliflower ears with all the forwards that have gone before them.

Ethan is now the youngest member of his J1 team.  For those uninitiated in the terminology of Junior Club rugger, J1 is the last grade kids play in before they head off to play rugby at high school.  J1 is the catch-all, business end of one’s Junior Rugby Career.  Some kids will never play J1, it’s a tough grade full of big boys that know what they’re doing and want to put their growing testosterone reservoirs to the test each week.

Every season, for 6 years he has been the youngest member of his team.  Every year for 6 years he has had to move up a grade, never to spend more than one season honing his skills before he had to move up to play with the older, potentially bigger boys.

Why?  Ethan IS one of the bigger boys.  Not so much so that you would snigger (unless you’re his age and bad mannered as many of his school peers and team-mates have been or obviously a judgemental parent in Manurewa!), but, heavy enough that the annual pre-season weigh-ins have been fraught with tears and angst, worry and self-doubt and words of self-deprecation that I never imagined I would hear from my brilliant, smart, socially LOVED little boy. Those fucking scales and the heavy burden of conformity they represent are the one dark spot on a sport our family loves so much.

Get off your soapbox for a second, I can see you all getting riled up.  I’m not naive.   There are very reasonable and sensical safety reasons for a grading system in a contact sport to be based upon a combination of weight and age.  That is not what I’m taking issue with……..entirely.  What I am saying, is that every participant of said contact sport (whether as player or sideline expert aka Mum/Dad), should be aware of the social and mental implications of grading CHILDREN based upon their WEIGHT.

Stop for a second and imagine if a predominantly female sport was graded in such a way.  Would society even allow it?

I doubt it.

But my son, from the age of 5, has had to bravely get on a scale twice a season, in front of strangers AND his peers and be judged on his body before he is able to play the sport he loves.  His strong, powerful, absolutely magnificent body that’s also 3 kilos too heavy to be allowed to play rugby for his intermediate school. WTF.

Can you imagine what that feels like?  You are brand new at a school 5 times the size of the rural primary school you attended.  You figure out where and when the rugby weigh-ins are, steel yourself to get there on time (the Year 7 equivalent of navigating across Auckland at rush hour without a map when you’re from Finland), only to get on the scales and be told ‘too heavy’.

End of story.

I’m on the committee at our local rugby club.   During registration, every child must be weighed in.  Earlier this year I cried with a boy of 10 when he was informed that to play in the grade best suited to his age and ability, he would be ‘Red Socks’.  Aside from his size, he had a new identifying factor that would further alienate him from the rest of his insensitive peers – he would be wearing red socks every game to identify that he was an ‘overweight’ player, his official title “Special”.

No shit.  He’d probably known that most of his life.  As a veteran team manager, I’ve been there each season with boys and their families as weigh-in approaches.  Some boys diet (CHILDREN DIETING, think about that  p l e a s e?), some put their heads in the sand and say “well, it is what it is” and they bravely swallow the red socks and get on with it.  But for all it hurts.  I’m fighting tears as I type this because you just can’t imagine what it’s like to see your beloved son get on a scale with fear in his eyes, when he is actually the very best little boy he can be.  When he is just SO right for the position he plays in his team that you, your coach and any damn laymen that knows anything about rugby would agree.

Our national sport, that one that heaps adulation upon the big, the strong, the downright giant elite players, is totally fine with telling an 11 year old that he is 3 kilos to heavy to participate in his chosen sport at school.  What kind of kids do you want in the front row?  If it’s not Ethan and others like him than I think we’ve all been barking up the wrong tree for a while now and should move on to greco-wrestling or something with a little less mud and laundry.

Junior rugby is a sport that, much like education in new Zealand, is skewed to the lowest common denominator – in this instance, it’s weight.  When I woke up this morning to see my Facebook feed awash with the viral post of Rochelle Mara, a mother from Manurewa eloquently sticking it to some asshat parents on the sideline of her son’s rugby game, the pain of every boy who didn’t fit the ‘mould’ in my teams over the past 6 years came rushing back.

Boys that are big, bigger than your son, bigger than your husband even!  These are EXACTLY the boys who should be playing rugby.  These are the boys whom we should be supporting and cheering on, the boys who should feel like they’ve found a home within their club, within their team and on that field.  Rugby should be welcoming these children and saying ‘you have a place here’, you belong and we want you.  Whether you’re 3kg’s too heavy or not.  

The system is what it is, and playing tackle can be dangerous if there is a huge weight disparity. I’m not arguing that point as I don’t have an alternative solution to ensure everyone can enjoy rugby safely, but there is no excuse for being an asshole! Boys bodies’ deserve as much respect as their female peers.

Eljae and Rochelle you two are rockstars, I don’t know what else to say but that I get it.  There are many of us that get it.  You will kick this season’s ass and be playing like a man possessed by the end of the season I’m sure.  And if you don’t?  Then massive ups for having the balls to get on that scale and get on the field.

Have some fucking manners people and remember to be human once in a while mmmmkay?

 

 

 

Nursery Sneak Peek | I hung the bunting!

So, so much to do and so, little energy! Todays few pain free hours were spent yelling on the sidelines of E’s rugby game {I’m told this can induce labour so am vigorously practicing for the opportune moments coming in the next few weeks}.

Rugby

I haven’t done too much in the nursery over the last couple of weeks as I’m waiting for some prints to arrive, and then …….. I will frame and hang everything, and see what else Lil Hippo’s room needs before it is just right (I’m thinking what we need now are the boring essential-unmentionables like giant maxi-pads and nipple cream), can’t wait to go shopping for those!

But, I did hang the lovely fabric bunting I purchased form Crave a few months ago and I’m rapt with it! It’s bright and vibrant and matches the rest of the nursery in that it matches nothing. I think once I have finished there will be a couple of colours that tie everything together – at least that’s the plan!

IMG_4701

A Lesson Learned on the Field

Do you remember that sporty guy at school? The one that was good at everything, who had the best gelled spike hair style and who was so cool he came across as mean 70% of the time? He could cut you to the quick with one withering look. These days he’s still really good at sports, probably has a Bieber-esque hair style, def wears fluoro boots and probably won’t invite you over to play.

E’s rugby team had a pre-season game last night against Cool Guy’s team. Throughout the week he hadn’t been too optimistic about the chances of a win, he was convinced Cool Guy had lightening pace and his team was stacked with 15 other Cool Guys who would run all over our boys. I hate that kind of talk. Anyone who knows me will be aware of my opinion that you don’t play to play well, you play to win. It’s fine if you don’t win, often you won’t, but you will never win unless you try, and if you lose you try harder next time.
I talked to E about believing in his team, about all the hard work they had done this pre-season, about this being their third season together and what that meant.
Cool Guys parting words to E at school yesterday afternoon were something delightful along the lines of “we are going to cane you so hard”. Sigh. E just suggested that it would be a fun game.

Cool Guys team went down. They were out-played and spent most of the game defending our try line.
It was awesome. E had the good grace and manners not to rub the fallen heroes nose in it and made sure to congratulate him on a good game afterward. I was very proud of his sportsmanship.

One of our team mums gave me a warning that I may have to pipe down on the sidelines this season as yelling at games started her labour twice last year! Ethan was rapt with this news and the imminent prospect of a quiet and un-embarrasing (HIS WORDS!) season ahead.