packingBack-to-school season is also back-to-sports season, in case you didn't already know that. Pee-wee football kicks off, swimming lessons go back on the calendar, and Saturday morning soccer games are the center of everything. With all the activities back in full swing, it's time to make a plan. Not for drop-offs and pick-ups. Not for after practice snacks and team bonding dinners.

Moms, in order to get through the action-packed, sweat-streaked sports season, it's time to talk about where you're going to house all that sports gear, and I've got five tricks that'll make storing the stuff a cinch!

1. Buy storage containers. For smaller knickknacks like baseballs, softballs, swim caps, or ankle braces, set aside a shoebox just for your kids. They can personalize it with decorations, too. For bigger stuff, like bats, gloves, basketballs, and tennis rackets, invest in a few clear storage bins. If you're shopping for more than one, sometimes it helps to buy in a few colors. It will help teach your kids ownership and responsibility, knowing that all their things belong in their box if they want to have it ready for practice and games. The best part? You can't blame mom if you lost it!

2. Set aside a go-to spot. When I was a wee one, my parents made sure to show us exactly where our things were going. It taught my brother, sister, and me that: A) if mom or dad are working, you know where to find your basketball shoes, and B) we could never say, "But mom! How was I supposed to know that you put my sneakers out back?" It also kept us from confusing our gear -- I knew my shin guards were in one place and my brother knew his were in another.

3. Use the garage or shed. Do you want muddy cleats and sweaty gym shirts marching through your house after a night full of activities? Didn't think so -- and I totally don't blame you. Having a designated spot set aside outside or in the shed helps to keep the chaos to a minimum. Plus it keeps potential "toys" securely tucked away and out of reach.

4. Make a routine out of it. Do you really want to say, "Put your shoes on the mat and leave your jersey in the laundry room" every day? Didn't think so. Teach your kids (and yourself) to do the same things every time they come home from a game or practices and they'll start to do it on their own. Turn it into a game and create a rewards system -- an extra 10 minutes to play Xbox if they remember to put their gear away.

5. Pack a sports bag. Let's make the whole process simple, shall we? Have a ready-to-go bag packed all the time. Throw in a fresh water bottle, a clean pair of socks, an extra tee shirt, your golf clubs, basketball sneakers, swimsuit, goggles, whatever is needed. It's also a good ideal to keep the bag stocked with an extra pair of everything, just in case.

How do you store your children's sports gear? Any secrets you want to share?

 

Image via Mat Honan/Flickr