Parents have busy lives that don’t seem to pause for our children’s busy lives. Going to watch a high school baseball game, basketball game, bowling match, any sport, in a gym or on a field, is a great way to encourage and support your child. However, to get to those games takes practices. Lots and lots of practices. Simply being present at practices is supportive without having to be fully engaged, such as during an actual game. This time doesn’t have to be wasted time. Whether you’re “stuck” at practices, have to be there to transport, chaperone, or support, or purposely schedule this time for yourself, take advantage of it. Following are five time fillers and uses during your child’s practices:

  1. Network. Bring your business cards and calendar to be ready to make contacts. Fellow parents can be a gold mine for business contacts. Being in the same time and place so often (the entire season’s sports schedule) gives you common ground to start from. And your audience is usually captive in the time and location. Not the place for high pressure sales, but you have the season to build a foundation.
  1. Book, newspaper, mind enhancing games such as crosswords, word search, or suduko. Study after study indicates mentally stimulating the brain delays effects of alzheimer’s disease. Consider your child’s physical practice time your mental practice time. Not only will you work out your own brain, but it sets a positive example for your children to see you “studying”.
  1. Pray and/or meditate. You don’t have to have a yoga mat, special clothes, or strike a downward dog pose to simply sit and concentrate. Pick a focal point in your line of sight, close your eyes or not, and let your mind work toward the goal of relaxation or prayer. Focusing on others, actively wishing or praying for others, is a fulfilling task that works for them and yourself.
  1. Paper and pen and write letter. A real, snail-mail, in your hand, read over and over, save in a hope chest, letter. Search your mind and address book for a friend or relative that has a special occasion that you can give the gift of a letter expressing your feelings and sentiments. It is such a joy to receive mail that you actually want. The gift of your time and energy at the cost of forty-nine cents is priceless to the recipient.
  1. Bring your walking shoes. Challenge yourself to walk laps around the field, school, or building. Schools and children’s activities are most often in safe places, so take a stroll around town. Patronize a local business. Explore a new area you may return to at a later date. Appreciate nature. Breathe fresh air. Burn calories in exchange for stopping with your child on the way home for ice cream.

Make your child’s quality time your quality time too. When you’re at the game, enjoy the game. When you’re at practice, take the time for yourself.

Jenean Roth is a lover of words read, written, spoken, dreamt, and arranged in entertaining ways. Jenean’s professional career reflects being a mother, grandmother, librarian, and court clerk, in that order. Her personal life is almost as fun and includes, pets, reading, writing, art, and laughing, not necessarily in that order.