When does hockey season end? People ask me that a lot. Is it never? I think it’s never. Here we are in my son’s second season as a hockey player. He is having SO. MUCH. FUN and is learning so much – new skills, faster and more precise skating, more rules of the game. He even got his first penalty (and then his second, and third . . . ) And I’m still learning a lot, too. Did you see my post from last year, Hockey Mom 101: 7 Must-Have Tips for the New Hockey Mom? It’s a great place to start, but here is my updated list of must-have hockey mom tips:
NO CUTESY NAMES
Only player-approved nicknames. It’s that simple. Though I must say I greatly appreciate and understand the mom on our team who still points out her son’s “cute tushy” in the locker room. And any time my son gets pushed or shoved on the ice, I instinctively shout, “HEY! That’s my baby!” We’re at the point where I yell “HEY,” and other team moms finish with “That’s my baby!” We crack ourselves up. I guess it’s a hockey mom thing.
You’ll still have a lot to manage, like running through the “Do you have your jersey? Your sticks? Water bottle?” callout list before practice or games, but I learned this year to at least have E carry most of his own stuff. Last year, we had a duffel bag, sticks, water bottle, jersey, and maybe some snacks to carry, not to mention whatever I was lugging with me to keep my other kids entertained. But this year, a more independent E carries his own water bottle, and we’re loving the wheelie bag he got as a gift from my parents. Sure, a zillion of those in the locker room take up a lot of space, but it’s a life-saver and in so many ways worth the splurge since it fits all of his equipment, has a strap to hold the sticks, is conveniently vented (more on that later) and, of course, is on wheels.
As the hockey kids get older, it’s also obviously easier for them to put all their equipment on themselves. But those darn skates . . . still a full-body workout for me to tie them. One hockey mom told me she’s not “allowed” to tie the skates because she can never get them tight enough. Same here, even if I truly put every ounce of my strength I have into it!
I know hockey moms (and hockey dads!) who insist on having the kids learn to tie their own skates at an early age. We’re definitely still working on that here . . . but if you can do it, I highly recommend it!
IT’S COLD IN THERE
Dress warm. Kind of a no-brainer, right? Well, not necessarily! Some rinks are frigid, some aren’t so bad … and some, like our home rink, seem to vary every week. So, be prepared. I’m long past the diaper bag phase, but I now have my hockey mom duffel full of mittens and hats and blankets for the kids . . . and for me . . . and the husband. I even bought him a heated vest for his birthday this year thanks to the recommendation from a hockey mom friend. He’s addicted to it, and I can understand why!
Two of my favorite hockey mom tips passed along from “experts” who have been at this longer than I have:
- Bring a blanket to sit on. Metal bleachers can be cold, and it’s amazing how much nicer it is to watch a hockey game with a warm bum. Unless you stand for the whole game, which I often also do.
- Always have a blanket and winter coat in your car, even during a heat wave in August. That’s when the cold of the rink is truly shocking. And remember, hockey season doesn’t ever really have to end, so, yes, you’ll be in a rink in August.
KNOW THE FIVE-HOLE
The five-hole? It sounds obscene. But it’s not. Look it up. It’s a good reminder to learn more about the game. Five hole, top shelf, offsides, the square . . . and so much more. Remember they switch sides of the ice each period . . . I zoned out at one game and didn’t register that fact (even though I’ve known it for almost 4 decades now) and accidentally cheered for the wrong team. As one hockey mom told me, as you’re learning it all, “Don’t worry if you have no clue what’s going on. In three years you will have figured most of it out, except why the ref didn’t call roughing on that kid who shoved your kid.” In my case, that’s when I whip out the “Hey! That’s my baby!” crazy hockey mom shriek.
FIND YOUR TRIBE
Speaking of the crazy hockey moms . . .FIND YOUR TRIBE and love your family:
You know how in motherhood, there are the Susans, the Karens, the Janets . . . all those women’s names that are slammed in memes left and right? Well, similarly, there are all kinds of people at hockey games cheering for their kids. Or against them . . . you know, to help fire them up and get feisty and play better. We all motivate differently, critique differently, support differently, cheer differently. Find your people and get comfortable with them. But get comfortable with the others, too. As I’m sure is true with most teams, we call each other Hockey Family. One hockey mom told me her #1 tip for new hockey moms is to be ready to gain a LOT of kids – all the team members become “your kids,” and you bring treats for them, cheer for them, defend them, speak up for them.
We’re a family, but that doesn’t mean we’re all the same. I’m always amazed by the parents who can intently but quietly watch the game . . . while I’m there screaming my head off . . . cheering, yelling “Hustle!!!” sometimes louder than people expect from my 5’2” stature. (For a hilarious read on the different types of hockey moms, check out this book.) And then there are the parents who are just plain angry and rude (none on my team, of course) – known as the “rink rage” parents according to one very experienced hockey mom friend of mine, who firmly advises “Don’t sit with the rink rage parents.”
NEVER LEAVE A HOCKEY BAG IN THE CAR
That’s a direct quote from another hockey mom friend. And a really really really important tip. Remember I mentioned how great it is to have a vented bag? Yeah, it helps a teeny tiny bit. But you’re better off actually taking stuff out of the bag and airing it out. Keep washing that stuff. You’ll quickly figure out which pads and garments smell the worst the fastest and will establish your washing routine. And in between washes, try this.
GO WITH THE FLOW
Another experienced hockey mom warns, “Your son will want the flow.” The flow?!?! I had no idea what that was, until I looked it up and realized that, YES, my son had it. Let that hockey hair grow. Show it off. And watch the wind blow those locks around as your hockey kid soars over the ice. Oh yeah, and be prepared for the extra-sweaty helmet and stinky hair afterwards, too.
DON’T BLOW YOUR BUDGET
Hockey is an expensive sport. Support the passion, but don’t spend ALL your money on it.
Lots of hockey kids are super-psyched up about their sport. That’s what we want, right? For them to do something they love and are passionate about. So let them grow their hair. And get that expensive helmet for the best protection. One hockey mom jokingly warned me, “You’ll have no extra money! It all goes to hockey!” It can be a very expensive sport, but there are also lots of ways to spend less while supporting your hockey kid’s passion:
- Go pond skating for weekend fun instead of getting expensive tickets to an NHL game
- Get hand-me-down equipment from neighbors and friends or second-hand sports stores instead of buying everything brand new
- Play knee hockey or street hockey to keep the kids excited
- Get hockey roller-blades if you’re like me and keep saying “NO!” to your hockey kid who wants to build an ice rink in the yard . . . or the basement . . .
- Make a great pump-up play list — a great, but low cost way to support the passion
SAY YOU SAW IT
I’m not suggesting you don’t pay attention to the game. And I’m not suggesting you lie to your hockey kid. All I’m saying is that you will likely get a play-by-play account of what happened on the ice — “Did you see when that kid elbowed me but I deeked him out . . .?” — and, while you may have no recollection or understanding of that happening, there IS a good chance you saw it. So claim it. You saw it.