We are a baseball loving family. I can remember being a young girl having fun on the sidelines of my dad’s games and as a college girl, there was no better way to spend a spring or summer night than cheering on my future husband. Now as a mom of three boys who are playing, I spend even more time (lots and lots of time!) on the sidelines for practices and games. My girlie talks about playing one day and both her and the baby are great sports on the sidelines. With my years of experience and now five littles in tow, I’ve found a few things that are worth their weight in carting to the sidelines. They don’t guarantee success, of course, but they sure do help. Here’s my list of essential gear for keeping it together on the sidelines:
1. Instent. Any time I use this tent on the sidelines, I’m asked where I bought it. Which is amazing since I’ve had it for about nine years now. We purchased it when our oldest was a baby, so if you’re doing the math it’s seen five littles travel through it and many more friends along the way. If it looks like rain or heat of the midday sun, I put up the tent. It’s SO easy to set up and take down. Truly easy. There are stakes to hammer in the ground for grass surfaces and pockets on the outside to fill with sand for beach days. It all goes back into a simple drawstring bag. The flexibility has been great. Since it can be completely zipped close, it’s different than many pop-ups. I have used it as a contained play space for my crawling babies and for a quiet, shady spot for sleeping toddlers. For one night game, we brought pillows, blankets, and a DVD player so my daughter could relax and sleep if she got too tired. It was amazing.
2. Collapsible wagon. When you’re in for a long day full of carting all your supplies, the collapsible wagon is a must. It fits our blanket, bag chairs, pop up canopy, instatent, snacks and more. Right now I still usually need the stroller too, but one day I see it holding everything we need. Since it has big tires, my boys can help me by pulling the wagon over the grassy and dirt terrain without trouble (although not necessarily without complaint). Look for these at end of season sales.
3. Ergo. This is good for anytime, anywhere you’re bringing baby along. I mention it here, because there have definitely been more than a few foul balls headed our direction over the years. For that reason, if I’m moving around the sidelines I like to have my baby very near me. It’s also been great for helping my babies nap when we’re in for a long day.
4. Water jugs. I found these insulated thermoses before the spring season began this year and they’ve been super helpful. Everyone chose their own color. They have a handle and space to write your name. The ice and water stay cold all day. In theory, I get less requests for drinks from the snack stand, but I’m not sure that’s quite true. But, they have saved me money, because I can easily say, “No, remember we brought water.” If gatorade is your thing, you’d still save money by filling these up with it at home.
5. Pop up canopy. Ordering one of these this year made me feel like a true gamer. Nothing says we sit in the hot sun watching sports all day, then your own pop-up canopy. The description says “easy up” and once you get the hang of it, it is. But, it definitely requires two people to put up. When my husband is coaching or playing, I just have to make sure he helps me set it up before he’s off to the dugout. But does it help? It’s the most popular seat on the sidelines.
6. Large blanket. While I use a bag chair for most games, I don’t bring chairs for my littles. For the amount of time they’re actually sitting on the sidelines, the blanket is adequate and takes up less space in the trunk or wagon. Our blanket like this has worked well for us for many years, but it might be time for something like this.
7. Collapsible Baby Chair. I first saw this chair at a friend’s home. They used it for camping and in the backyard. I thought it was the coolest and it seems I’m not alone. Fellow moms are always commenting on it when they see mine. I found one in like-new condition consignment, but now that I own one, I think the price for it new would be well worth it. It folds up just like a traditional bag chair, but for a baby. My guy is 15 months, but the height on the seat adjusts (4 settings) so I can use it for him for a while to come. It has toy loops, cup holders, and a floor pad which keeps his feet clean on the sidelines. We use it at nearly every game, even as a portable high chair. He loves this seat, because it gives him a little independence (no straps and he can sit, stand, and even jump) and I love it, because it keeps him safely contained.
And can I just add snacks, snacks, and more snacks? You can never have enough of those.
If you can believe it, all of this plus three baseball bags, a cooler, and diaper bag fit in our minivan with all of us. I know I’m not the only one camping out on the sidelines. What tricks can you share with me? And I’ll take any suggestions for the next size vehicle we’re going to need.