Car Towels1 of 14
I keep a stash of beach towels in the car at all times. The kids use them to towel off, and then we throw them over the seats after a wet or muddy game. They're also genius way to wrap up dirty cleats and uniforms. Consider camping towels, too. They absorb eight times their weight in water.
Comfortable Seats2 of 14
While some parents like to pace up and down the sidelines, the smart ones know how to spectate in style. My key to surviving a weekend tournament or swim meet is to bring my own comfortable camping chairs. Drink holders and foot rests sweeten the deal!
A Trunk Organizer3 of 14
Trunk organizers are especially handy for families with multiple athletes. Use them to separate uniforms, food and shoes, or to organize gear by child. Some models even include a cooler for drinks and snacks.
A Shower Caddy4 of 14
This hack may sound strange, but bear with me. Try using a shower caddy to sort out snacks and meals for athletes. It hangs easily, keeps the car cleaner and makes organization that much easier.
An Oversized Umbrella5 of 14
There's nothing better than staying nice and dry on the sidelines of a rainy game. Plus, though many teams offer sun shelters for players, a large umbrella can provide the same relief to parents and siblings on sunny days.
Game-Ready Bag6 of 14
The items in your own ready bag may vary, but mine doesn't leave home without ice packs, a simple first aid kit, athletic tape, a hair brush, hair elastics, pre-wrap (for hair, like Alex Morgan), sun block, hand sanitizer, lip balm and aloe vera ice cubes.
A Drying Rack7 of 14
I use a ski boot dryer to quickly dry cleats, gloves and gear. It's far faster than air drying, and can be set up in a small space. Feeling crafty? There are plenty of plans available for DIY drying racks made with PVC pipe or wood.
Storage Solutions8 of 14
Individual Laundry Bags and Baskets9 of 14
At the risk of repetition, keeping sports gear separate is essential. Sorting dirty uniforms in individual baskets for each child, then placing clean uniforms in separate laundry bags will help your kids get ready quickly. It also prevents a round-trip back home when someone packs the wrong color socks.
So Long, Smelly Shoes10 of 14
With dirty uniforms come soiled shoes, but there are several ways to keep them smelling clean. Start by removing insoles and running them through the washer and dryer in a pillowcase. Some shoes can even be washed along with a load of towels. After washing, stuff and wrap them with newspaper and set them in a well-ventilated place to dry. You may have to change the newspaper a few times during the drying process. As a quick fix, eliminate odors by placing dryer sheets inside shoes overnight.
Water Bottle Rescue11 of 14
Ever find a forgotten water bottle in a back seat or backpack? Instead of repurchasing, rescue reusable bottles with items you probably already have on hand. First, soak the bottle in warm water mixed with a little bit of bleach. Scrub it inside and out with a dish brush or toothbrush, then clean the mouthpiece with a cotton swab. Rinse thoroughly, add baking soda and hot water and then let the bottle sit overnight. Rinse with hot water and soap and dry completely before using.
Entertainment To-Go12 of 14
For sibling tag-a-longs and inevitable game delays, I always pack a bag of travel games, playing cards, books and art supplies. As a bonus, these in-between activities are also great for team-building skills.
The Official Family Photographer13 of 14
Finally, assign a non-playing child the duties of official photographer, videographer and scorekeeper. Your family's one-person A/V squad also gets to text out score updates to anyone who has to miss the game. Giving siblings an active role helps teach every kid they're important--even when they aren't the one playing.