Share the Love: Quality Time

AlyssaM CoachCard 300x300 Share the Love: Quality Time
Alyssa McGarigal, MA, PPSC Program Director

In addition to being the Program Director for Soccer Shots, I am a mom to a rambunctious and amazing two year old. I care deeply and passionately about the program, so I often spend time outside of the office thinking about work.

As February rolled around this year, a time where love is everywhere, I began to reflect on my relationship with my daughter. Do I show the same passion at home? Does she feel loved?

It’s no secret that being a working parent is a balancing act. So here I am, sharing my story, as well as my challenge to myself, and to you, if you accept.  For the rest of the month, I am going to make a conscious effort to ensure that  I have quality time with my daughter. Notice I didn’t say more time with her; I know that would be hard.

I’m committing to putting my phone away when I get home from work, and leaving it there until she goes to bed.

To engaging in conversations (those limited by two year old vocabulary) when we’re in the car on the way home from school.

To enjoying the time we spend walking the dog together, instead of rushing.

I want to play with her and the toy kitchen she got during the holidays, the train track too. I’m not sure we’ve fully enjoyed those experiences together yet, and the toys have been strewn around my house for a month and a half now!

Why, you might ask. And why did I make the distinction that this isn’t a challenge of increasing the quantity of time spent together? valentines day hearts 251x300 Share the Love: Quality Time

Quantity vs. Quality: Research published in the Journal of Marriage and Family (Milkie, 2014) shows that there is actually no relationship between the amount of time parent’s spend with their children and how they turn out. These findings include children’s academic achievement, behavior and emotional well-being.

Now this doesn’t mean time with parents isn’t important. The important factor here, that does lead to positive outcomes, is that the time spent is quality time – such as reaching, sharing meals, talking and engaging one-on-one.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not perfect. I know what the research says, and still there are days when it all goes out the window in our house. But we try, and as long as we’re asking that of ourselves, we’re in a good place. So here’s to more conversations, more peaceful walks, and more play time with each other. What are your favorite quality time activities?

Keeping Kids Busy Over Winter Break

AlyssaM1 Keeping Kids Busy Over Winter Break
Alyssa McGarigal, MA, PPSC
Director, Program & Community Advancement

With no school, and no soccer, we know winter break can get a little crazy. Kids bouncing off the walls, and parents wondering what to do next… Here are a few ideas we thought of to keep everyone busy!

1. Make a plan ahead of time. Figure out activities and places to go, so you don’t have to figure it out last minute.

2. If possible, stick to your usual routine. This will help your child know what to expect and when, as well as help with transition back to the norm, after the holidays.

3. Head to a movie, or check out a local museum. We love the Kidspace Children’s Museum in Pasadena, or the Zimmer Children’s Museum in Mid-City/Miracle Mile. There’s also a new Discovery Cube (opened by Discovery Science Foundation) in Sylmar!

Screen Shot 2014 12 16 at 4.58.55 PM Keeping Kids Busy Over Winter Break

4. Visit a local park and practice those Soccer Shots moves and games!

5. Find a new favorite book at the local library or bookstore. Have you read “The Book With No Pictures” by B.J. Novak? It’s quickly become one of our favorites!

6. Have FUN! 🙂 Spend time together just playing, follow your child’s lead. Build a fort out of couch cushions, or put on a play; let your imaginations take over.

“Help please…” and other hard conversations…

AlyssaM Help please... and other hard conversations...
Alyssa McGarigal, MA, PPSC
Director, Program & Community Advancement

As coaches at Soccer Shots, we spend countless hours a day, influencing young minds. We remind them to keep their bodies safe, to respect friends and toys, and to ask for help when they need it. In fact, when I am on the field, “I can’t do it…” is one of my least favorite things to hear, and I immediately respond with, ” let’s try one more time together,” or “you can say… I need help, please.” 

When I heard about Robin Williams’ passing yesterday, as an educator, and a counselor, I couldn’t help but think to myself… What happened? At what age does asking for help go out of style? What makes it so difficult to have hard conversations? How do we prevent these things from happening…? 

Some of my favorite characters crossed my mind a hundred times. Genie in Aladdin, Lovelace in Happy Feet, Mrs. Doubtfire, Patch Adams, Jack, Alan Parrish in Jumanji (even though I was terrified of that movie for quite some time), Professor Phillip Brainard in Flubber, Peter Pan in Hook, John Keating in Dead Poet’s Society, Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting… the list goes on and on.

Working with kids, we are consistently modeling the behavior we want to see from them. If we want them to dribble their soccer ball, we dribble with them. If we want them to sit criss-cross applesauce, we sit with them.

At age 3 and 4, a seemingly hard conversation might start with, “you have short hair, are you a boy or a girl?” Or, “that bug isn’t moving anymore, what happened to it?” But, as mentors, coaches, educators, friends, and parents, we have to have the hard conversations. We have to model this behavior too, so that at some point, kids (who become adults) don’t shy away from these conversations.

Here are some tips for having hard conversations with kids: 

1. Listen and acknowledge. Recognize feelings, and provide reassurance or comfort if needed.

2. Ask and answer questions without judgement. Find out what your child thinks or already knows. Try to stay openminded.

3. Be honest. Know yourself. Take time to think of a response if needed. Follow through, make a point to revisit the conversation if you say you need time.

4. Explain simply. Tailor your response to the child’s age and developmental level.

5. Keep the lines of communication open. Provide encouragement to come back and talk more if needed.

 

“You’ll have bad times, but it’ll always wake you up to the good stuff you weren’t paying attention to.” – Robin Williams as Sean Maguire, Good Will Hunting

If you, or someone you know, needs help or even just someone to talk to, know that there are always options.

NSPL Logo Help please... and other hard conversations...

One family’s Soccer Shots story…

We received this message from a parent in one of our park programs, and it filled our hearts with so much joy, we just had to share! Truly, this is why we do what we do, and we couldn’t be more proud of our team and the impact they have on kids and families in Los Angeles every day!

I have so much to say!!!!!!!! This group, has touched my heart in so many ways! It’s sometimes hard to find the words. We are faced with putting our trust into those who are mentors, teachers, coaches, and friends. We place our trust and depend on them as we start and continue to build our village, because I do STRONGLY believe it takes a village to raise my special lil guy!! 

The first soccer session, I ended up at the wrong park, drove around in circles, once I got to the right park, I literally walked around not knowing really who to look for. I see a guy and assume he is a coach with Soccer Shots so I ask, ” Is this the group my son is registered in?” He replies .. “Yes..hi, I am Coach Stewart..” I immediately start explaining and apologizing for being 30 minutes late, explaining that I went to wrong park, drove around in circles and here we are!! Kinda expecting a “you’re too late response.” Team One familys Soccer Shots story...
Coach Stewart immediately comforted us, introduced himself to me and D, got him a Soccer Shots shirt, and walked D over to his team, his group of new friends!!! He then said to me, “no worries!!!” Little did he know I was tearing up, I was so worried and mad at myself; worried that I messed up D’s first day, his first soccer experience!! 
Instead, I realized that was not the case at all!! Coach Andy immediately embraced D and gently threaded him into the group seamlessly!! This moment was huge for me!! As a parent I love experiencing those first time moments, that I’ve so come to realize as much as it is a HUGE deal for our little one…it’s just as HUGE for us too!! 
Watching my son merge in with people he had never seen before… a moment I so wanted to call my mom … That, mom to mom moment, sharing D’s first day of soccer..I know in her way, she was there with us!!! 

When the class was over, I walked over to introduce myself to Coach Andy. He reached out to me, shook my hand and said Hi. I was again apologetic for being so late..and had a million questions .. “Do you need me to fill out anything, forms? Did we miss an introduction.. Blah blah blah” 
Coach Andy, with the sweetest smile said.. “No no no don’t worry, your son D is awesome and welcome!!” 
I was like, “really, no lecture, you know that coach talk on the importance of being here on time?!” He was completely the opposite and said your son is great! Balboa Park One familys Soccer Shots story...

From that day forward here is what I see every Saturday… Character building, sitting together, for what I would love to be a lil fly and listen .. But I do love watching them sit together building trust and relationships!! Learning about how to respect, appreciate, encourage, and mostly how to have FUN with each other! With much thoughtfulness Coach Andy and Coach Geo embrace the kiddos with lots of happiness, fun, smiles, and an amazing amount of genuine authentic love for the them!! 
D has just graduated from his second season, he has more confidence in everything he does from school work, to now swimming and jumping into a pool, to taking those first steps into things that before felt too scary..believing in himself.
Coach Andy guides and coaches in a way that allows them to have freedom .. He gives them the space, allowing the learning process to be natural, comfortable and at their own pace!! His teaching skills build self confidence and his ability to be so IN THE MOMENT with each kiddo, individually and as a group of friends is incredible!!

Example: just about to practice the hocus pocus move.. But then you hear one child say to another .. “Hey that’s my ball, he took my ball, that’s my ball!!” Coach Andy immediately responded.. “Ok boys and girls let’s practice how we share with our friends”, and immediately had them practicing on sharing the soccer ball with one another , teammates, playing, shouting with laughter and having so much fun in sharing the soccer ball!! What could have turned into a melt down on someone took my ball, was brilliantly turned into laughter and sharing!!! 

I love this group so much!! You all have become a great friends, and have made my son’s first sport an amazing, very positive experience! When its time, any new coach that comes into D’s life will have VERY VERY big shoes to fill. I am ever so greatful to each and every one of you!!! 


From my heart, from D’s heart, 
We thank you so much Soccer Shots team. A huge blessing to have you all be part of “our village.” Xoxoxo