Ball Games and Babies: Tips on tackling motherhood and gameday

Here we are in week 4 of the regular season! Meaning, training camp is over and I’m no longer chasing a 2 year-old off of the field in the hot sun every time he sees his daddy. My son doesn’t quite get that training camp isn’t the park and that it’s work for daddy and heck, if I’m being honest- training camp feels like work to me too! I’m by myself and tackling a toddler alone AND times like these, I often joke that my husband is the better parent.

I remember vividly my first football season/training camp as a mom—it was a totally different experience. Getting dressed for training camp and games quickly changed from dressing cute to dressing functional. Game after game, I struggled with what to pack for the day. I had so many questions: Does it all need to fit in the clear bag? Is my son overdressed? Underdressed? Do we drive to the game or should we uber? If I uber, where do I put my car seat?  It took me weeks to figure out a rhythm and what worked best for us. Now that we’re expecting baby number 2, I’ve realized that I STILL HAVE QUESTIONS. So, I’ve asked around to a few WAGS to compile a quick list aka "starter guide" for new moms around the league! Although the season has started—some of you may have missed the memo (like me the first time) on WHEN to conceive so that you don’t have an “in season” baby. So hopefully you can bookmark this article and get some advice from fellow WAGS so you can have one less thing to worry about this season!

Safety When I asked WAGS about advice for games, safety was one of the most important themes! I know a lot of new moms are worried about the noise in the stadium and while a box sounds like a good answer, not all of our families want to shell out that kind of money for every game. WAGS around the league seem to be in consensus that headphones are a good investment for sensitive ears; more than one WAG mentioned that the noise wasn’t a big issue and that their babies actually slept through games (mine did too, maybe the stadium kind of soothes our littles). Ris Williams of the Pittsburg Steelers also specifically mentioned using baby wearing as a way to keep her youngest one close while also being able to hold the hands of her two older children. I personally loved the Ergo baby carrier with the mesh insert and it kept me from getting too hot, but I wouldn’t recommend it for breastfeeding.

Also, depending on what region you are in, games can be hot. This is something I didn't really account for my first season because when I think football I think fall and cool weather. This can be extremely uncomfortable for you when baby wearing—but it is necessary because the sun can really hurt our little ones beyond discomfort. So, don't forget the baby hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen—hit up fellow WAG, Linda Hope for Beauty Counter sunscreen!  I've personally tried it and it was safe for my little one's skin, it doesn't sweat off and its not that thick gunky stuff (so you don't have to worry about it getting all over you when baby wearing)... Feeding Speaking of feeding, if your little one is strictly breastfed, WAGS recommend bringing a cover to feed in the stadium. While you don’t have to be the brave woman who feeds in her seat (kudos to those who are—you ROCK), there aren’t many private areas and you may be missing parts of the game to find the nearest clean space. Talk to your husband or the team personnel about access to an area during the game (the postgame family area etc.) so that you’re not anxious and uncomfortable when the game arises. This can be crucial for those of us who are a little more timid about breastfeeding in the stands and who have babies who aren’t bottle fed just yet.

For older kids, there seems to be a consensus among WAGS to bring extra snacks. I can not stress this enough! I don’t know how many times I’ve been caught empty handed at games, without snacks OR CASH, so I’ve had to run around the stadium figuring out exactly what to get my son to eat. I personally pack things he normally enjoys, as well as things like candy and peanuts that are sold in the stadium—that $5 bag of peanuts is $1 at the local grocery store. Shianette Tolbert of the Carolina Panthers also mentioned bringing extra sippy cups, just in case your little one wants a different drink or drops the one they have. Also, if your kiddo is a "milk head" like mine, bring your own milk—its virtually nonexistent in some stadiums. Entertainment Let’s face it, the games are sooooo long and the kiddos hardly know what’s going on. Both Nina Thomas of the Seattle Seahawks and Dorrie White of the Minnesota Vikings stated that "explaining to the kids what’s going on during the game really helps the little ones stay engaged." Dorrie also added that allowing your older kids to express themselves is great.  So, let them yell, teach them cheers, remember this is as much as an experience for them as it is for you. Multiple WAGS also mentioned the importance of bringing a fully charged tablet with headphones. Download as many games and movies as you can think of just in case WIFI in the stadium doesn’t connect properly so you are not stuck with a useless device.

Secrets of the NFL wife So there are a few things I wasn’t aware of during my first season with my tot that were total lifesavers and I’m not sure if I missed the memo or if the memo was never sent. But here it goes:

1) Some teams actually have childcare in the stadium for players families! I’m currently not with a team that has a childcare facility and I couldn’t dig up a comprehensive list but, I do know that Seattle has one- Thanks to Nina for the tip (Hey WAGS! Comment below if your team has one too)

2) While Strollers and car seats aren’t allowed in the actual stadium, some facilities have a specific entrance for player's families and you can stroll right up to a designated safe area to park your stroller! This totally helps if you want to catch a ride to the stadium or walk a few blocks and don’t want to lug a baby (or 2) in your arms.

3) That same entrance that allows strollers may also allow non-clear bags! While some WAGS use this exception to sport those cute designer bags, for us mommies, this is the excellent way to get in all our kiddos' accessories by bringing that pre-packed diaper bag (now that you have extra space, don’t forget extra clothes for yourself too)!

Being a mommy can be tough –being a mommy on game day can almost be a nightmare if you’re doing it alone. Remember you have your WAG family.  When Grandma and good friends can’t make it to every game, try to utilize your WAG girlfriends.  They’ll help watch baby when you run to the bathroom, can reach in the diaper bag when your hands aren't free and keep you updated on the down and distance when you get distracted. Being a WAG is a very unique experience and so is being a mom! I certainly didn’t cover everything so please comment any questions about traveling with baby,  games as well as any other advice or tips you may have! Good Luck this season, Ladies!