7 Tips for New Cheer Parents

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So your son or daughter made the cheer team? Congratulations and welcome to the wonderful world of cheer parents! Here are a few tips that I hope will help you survive your journey.

1. Realize that Cheerleading is a Huge Time Commitment

Remember back when you were expecting your first child, and people who were already parents warned you that it would take up a lot of time? And then your new bundle of joy arrived, and you realized, “Oh, NOW I get it–it takes a LOT of time!”? Well, that’s what it’s like with cheerleading. Your time will be filled with practices, parent meetings, games, competitions, team parties, more parent meetings, fundraisers, camps, and more. And no matter how much anyone warns you, you won’t really understand how much time it will take until halfway through the season, when you will suddenly realize, “Oh, NOW I get it–it takes a LOT of time!”

2. Remember that Practice Makes Perfect

Whether your cheerleader is on a sideline squad or a competition team, it is essential for them to attend all practices in order to hone their skills and perform them as safe as possibly. Encourage your cheerleader to use a calendar, stay organized and reserve time each day for homework and chores so that those tasks don’t cause them to miss practice. And, if at all possible, try to plan your vacations and family gatherings so that they don’t keep your cheerleader away from practices, games, and other cheer events.

3. Expect the Unexpected

Of course, just when you think your calendar is final, there will be a change of time or venue that will have it all come crashing down like a house of cards and leave you scrambling to find a carpool or someone to take your other children to their practices or games. Field closures, rescheduled games, changing competition times, and last-minute added practices are just a few of the little changes that can crop up. So try to have a back-up plan, a list of the other parents’ cell phone numbers, and a sense of humor.

4. Budget More Money than the Coach Tells You To

Hopefully your coaches have already or will soon give you a list of basic costs up front, such as uniform prices, camp fees, competition fees, transportation fees, and so on. But, as with school, there will be all sorts of additional little purchases that can add up fast, including spectator admission, transportation, lodging, souvenirs, pictures, and so on, so don’t forget to budget for these little extras.

5. Make Friends with a Beautician

If your daughter is too young to do her own hair and makeup, and, like me, you aren’t good with hairspray and mascara, try to find someone who is. Fortunately, my husband comes from a long line of cosmetologists, so I had aunts and others to help. Perhaps you have a family friend, another team parent, or even an older cheerleader to help.

6. Invest in a Good Set of Earplugs

Games are loud. Competitions are louder. There will be shouting, screaming, squealing, whistling, loud rock and rap music, and lots and lots of enthusiasm. So if you’re not good at dealing with all the commotion, visit your local sporting goods store and protect your ears. As an added bonus, you can use them at night in the hotel!

7. Enjoy the Moment

Like your cheerleader’s childhood, the cheer season will fly by and be over before you know it. So try to take some time to sit back, relax, and enjoy as many of the activities as you can. And take lots and lots of pictures and videos!

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Marge Packman

Marge was a member of her high school pom team and has coached youth and school cheer for over 17 years. She has a BA in English from Northern Illinois University (Go, Huskies!). After graduation she joined the Peace Corps, met her husband, and moved to The OC. After cheer practice, you can find her watching football with her son or perusing the scrapbooking aisles with her daughter.

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