What is a Hockey Mom?
I think a hockey mom is a special breed. Scratch that, I know we are. We carry our title with a lot of pride. The pride comes from the fact that Canadians are fiercely proud of hockey. Its synonymous with most Canadian stereotypes, and that comes from somewhere. We know that we get a little intense sometimes. Just think, we love our hockey when its NHL and we don’t know the players, so watch out when its our little loves out on that ice. To say we become invested is an understatement.
The hockey mom is tough. We endure early mornings, cold rinks, endless snack planning and stinky cars. And we do it with that special hockey mom smile. We all have a week or two where we are stretched too thin and there might be a little grumbling, but we really do love every minute.
The hockey mom is generous. We give all of our time to the sport and are thrilled to do it. I’m not talking about the driving the kids to and from hockey. That’s just being a parent. I’m talking about the volunteer hours of coaching, team managing, penalty box shifts, music shifts, tournament coordinating, jersey cleaning and anything else that pops up. Not to mention the fact that any hockey mom, anywhere will drop what they are doing to pick up someone else’s kid to make sure they get to the rink. Period. That code is built into our DNA and we are happy to do it.
The hockey mom is hilarious. Someone out there is making all those hockey memes. Not to mention if you are on any hockey mom groups on Facebook or other social media ,there is some funny stuff on there. We don’t take ourselves to seriously when it comes to our stereotypes. We are a bit over the top and we’re ok with laughing about that.
So How do you be a Great Hockey Mom?
Hockey is a lifestyle. If you are reading this and have a child or children in competitive hockey you are nodding. I can see you. From September through March your life is devoted to practices, games, tournaments and volunteer work. Your team becomes your family for those months. You build friendships that last years as you circle through the different cycles of being on and off each others teams.
The hockey lifestyle comes with a bit of a catch though. Its not all sunshine and roses. You spend a lot of time with your team and rival teams. There are some people kicking around the rink that you could do without. You would never want to spend any amount of time with them regularly but because of the team you spend a lot of time with them. So things can get weird sometimes. We’ve all seen it. So how do you avoid that weirdness and make sure that you personally are the best Hockey mom you can be? Well let me give my observations.
1. Get Involved – Be a contributor on your team. There are a lot of volunteer hours up for grabs and the more people that pitch in the easier and more fun it is. There is nothing worse than the parents who volunteer for nothing but complain about everything. You don’t have to take the biggest job on but sign up for something if you can. Its also important for your kids to see you giving your time and being a part of the community
2. Be your kids number one fan – You are a hockey mom because of your kiddo so let them know how proud you are. When I watched the respect in sport parenting course that is required before registration there was one thing that really resonated. One module talks about the car ride home being the most stressful part of some kids hockey experience. It’s time where some parents take advantage of the drive home in a small confined space to point out what they did wrong or where they could have done better. It occurred to me that maybe sometimes I did talk to my kids too much about areas they could have improved rather than focusing on their positive contributions. I thought I was being encouraging, but to them maybe it sounded negative. Now I am very conscious of making sure they know I’m their number one fan and proud of everything they do on the ice. I leave it up to the coaches to help them work on things they need improve on and I focus on all their positives.
3. Be a communicator – My husband is always on the coaching staff, so I know that side of it really well. But I have seen many parents over the years that are upset about something and just let it fester. They see something during a game or a practice that they don’t like and don’t ask the coaches about it. Chances are its a super simple conversation and explanation. But they build it up in their head until they get angry and then create an unhealthy situation. Always take the time to communicate with your coaching staff and don’t let the relationship suffer as a result of miscommunication.
4. Don’t be a gossip – There have been times over the years that I have really liked a certain mom and then they start gossiping or speaking poorly about other parents. I can’t handle trouble makers. I find myself avoiding them because I don’t want to engage in the negative conversations. Chances are if they have garbage to say about other parents than they will find something to say about me and it makes me uncomfortable.
5. Don’t take it too seriously – Its competitive hockey and I get that. We want to win and we want the kids to improve. But there’s going to be times where things don’t go our way. Don’t be the parent that’s blaming the other team, blaming the refs and being more upset than their kid that they lost. Remember that car ride home. They hear everything. So don’t be the parents that are discussing about how “they should have won” or “that ref was an idiot”. Sometimes they will lose and being a gracious loser is an important skill for them to learn.
6. Embrace the experience – Just lean in you hockey mom. Don’t resist it. Grab your To-go cup and blanket and love the fact that you are going to the rink. I don’t know why but one of my little pleasures is when I’m struggling to carry 5 pairs of hockey skates in for sharpening I smile. I feel super cool and I have no idea why. My daughter doesn’t actually skate on hers yet but she likes sitting and wearing them to show her brothers she looks “Big”. She notices when hers aren’t included in the trip so I Carry them in and tuck them under my arm on the way out so she doesn’t see I didn’t actually leave them there. But my point is that its a great sport and we have to love our opportunity to be in it
7. Be Fun – This past year we asked Grandma and Grandpa to take the two littles when we went to an away tournaments for our oldest. We were able to actually stay up late and party with the parents. I would be lying if I didn’t say that some of the best memories happen at 2 am when you have a group of hockey moms writing out their versions of lines on a pizza box while the coaching staff look at us with dismay. You don’t have to be the life of the party to be a great hockey mom but putting the effort into the relationships with the parents is a big part of it.
8. Be Chill and avoid the snake – Have you all read the article where they classify the hockey parents? There was a re-post of it on Canadian Hockey moms here. Its a great read. But this is what I was referring to before about the gossip. Just avoid those negative parents that suck the energy out of the team. Some are worse than others and they seem to build a reputation for themselves so you tend to know who they are. Be friendly and polite but just avoid them because they like to start trouble. Don’t get sucked into any of their nonsense. Be Chill and stay out if it.
9. Be the person people can count on – Everyone has a different situation coming into the hockey family. Some are short on time with two working parents. Others have many kids in many extracurriculars so they struggle to get to everything. If you are the person that has some extra time and is able to help, Do It. Let others know that you are always available to pick a kid up, sit with them at the rink if they are late after a practice, bring a snack if they are rushing from work. Its another way that you can build that community together and make the experience great.
10. Show the volunteers some love – Maybe some years you are just not in a position to contribute extra hours to get involved. New job, new baby, health reasons. There are a variety of reasons that some years its just not happening. And that’s more than ok! Just make sure to show some love to the volunteers that were able to step up that particular year. Sometimes I think parents forget how much time and effort the volunteer staff of each team and hockey organization put in and forget to show them the love they should.
Why I love being a Hockey Mom?
So after hearing all my thoughts of what I think makes a great hockey mom I got to thinking about why I love being one so much.
It boils down to this. This sport is amazing, and it gives our family endless benefits. My kids are learning skills far beyond skating and stick handling. They have gained friendships, work ethic and dedication. They understand what it feels like to be a part of a community and that you get out of it what you put in.
It has given us a purpose as a family and a way to bond together. The super Dekker sits in the front entrance of our house where daily competitions are held. Sauce Off is set up in our sun room for quick games before dinner. Our bonus room is dedicated to mini sticks. We know every open ice time on a weekly basis within a 20 km radius to get out and skate together. The outdoor rink is the highlight of the Christmas holidays for the rare week that hockey takes a break. Its our family passion that we share together.
This is what it means to me to be a hockey mom and I love every single minute of it.