You've been taxiing your player around for half of his/her youth life in a virtual non-stop car ride to and from every rink on the planet, (sarcasm). Your wallet and bank account are empty but the memories are cherished and lasting.
Don't look now but your kid is grown up. The past xxx years just zipped by, it feels like just yesterday your son or daughter stepped on the ice and the decision was made to sign up for travel hockey. Where did the time go?
Your lives consist of living by an appointed schedule for practice, games and clinics. The time is quickly approaching, the last year is here, youth hockey as you know it will end after this season. How do you prepare yourself and your teenager for life after youth hockey? Every weekend for nearly 7 months of the fall, winter and spring is designated travel time. DO NOT CONTACT US, IT'S HOCKEY SEASON! Here on Saturday and there on Sunday, mom and dad re-arranging their schedules to accommodate getting to all of the required destinations on the schedule. Most high school kids these days play for two teams, school and club. The schedule is common, practice on Monday, practice on Tuesday, practice or game on Wednesday and Thursday. The only available day to decompress is Friday. But Fridays are normally resigned to preparing for Saturday and Sunday travel. If of course you're not already traveling to play weekend games at overnight destinations. Your lives are predetermined by a chaotic weekly schedule that leaves almost no time to tend to household responsibilities. Finding yourself doing wash and cleaning the house at 9 or 10 o'clock in the evening during the work week. Making the grocery list based on how fast a home cooked meal can be made in order to get home from work, cook dinner and get to practice. The kind of vehicle mom and dad drive are based exclusively on how much room there is for hockey bags and sticks. And if need be additional space for car pooling. Fixing or repairing anything is an after thought, "we'll get to that during the holidays" or in the summer. The life of a hockey parent speaks volumes of the craziness one will endure to enable their kids to play.
If you have more than one kid playing? Forget about it.....
The time has come, the season ends, that's it you're suddenly saddled with time, gaps to fill which would normally be filled by the hockey schedule. What do you do? To start, just because your kids youth hockey career is over, it doesn't necessarily mean they're done. There's always college and while they may not have been recruited to play D1 or even have that option, there's plenty of additional institutional hockey to be had. There's D3 and club, and even D2 and D1 ACHA. Most schools with D3 or club hockey options do require a financial obligation to play. In most cases though the teams do have an alumni association which does year round fundraising as well as providing donations which makes the responsibility to pay almost nothing to the new student/player. If college isn't the direction they choose, there's still men's league, and believe it or not the competition can be just as crazy as if they're still playing youth level. Some of the guys in men's league seem to think they're still being scouted and play accordingly.
Parents, take a deep breath and exhale. Reflect on all of the quality time spent with your family, all of the things you saw and did together and the enjoyment had by all, (hopefully, I know that's not always the case). The growth you saw first hand as your child grew into a young adult.
Now you can get the things done around the house you had planned on fixing or repairing 2-3-5 or more years ago. You can eat at normal times and clean on the weekend at normal hours of the day. You can kiss eating fast food goodbye. The car(s) you've been driving which probably has well over 100,000 miles on it and is now too big to bother with can be traded in for the car you want. The bank account will again appear as if you actually do work for a living and your wallet will have money in it. More importantly, you can put time back into your life and look forward to your kids life in adulthood.
It's really not as bad as what it may seem.