By Christy Neil

My husband and are in a phase of life where we spend a lot of time in the car. Driving.

We have three children ages 14, 12 and 10 and they are each involved in one or two sports. It’s a shift from when they were little kids and the days were full and busy. Now everything happens in the evenings.

We’ve come to embrace the time in the car with our kids. Whether they are in the back seat of the car or on the passenger side, you are alone with them and inevitably they talk to you. It’s an important time in their lives as they go into the teenage years and this is when they need to talk to us about things. My 14-year-old and I have had some pretty important conversations in the car.

So we just drive and listen. And they start talking.

My 14-year-old daughter is involved in cycling as well as speedskating. My 12-year-old son is a freestyle skier, and my 10-year-old daughter is in speedskating and plays field hockey. My husband and I didn’t want to have kids with overly busy schedules. It just naturally happened as they all fell in love with specific sports and we’ve come to realize that they need these activities for various reasons.

My oldest needs physical activity to be happy. Her mood changes for the better when she’s involved in sports and it’s given her confidence to have friends outside of school. My son is like a puppy that needs to be run every day. When he was little he played soccer and shinny. We realized that his body likes to move and jump off things. We put him into skiing and quickly discovered he’s a trickster, he always likes to try new things so he naturally gravitated towards freestyle skiing. My youngest has always tagged along with the older kids so she’s dabbled a bit in various sports, but enjoys the social and fun nature of speedskating.

My kids are all in that tween/teen stage where if they aren’t involved in sports, I know what they could get up to. My husband and I are both teachers, so we see that kids who are active have better self-esteem, and often make better choices. I know it’s cliché but sport keeps kids out of trouble.

My son is surrounded by a great group of (mostly) boys in skiing. The sport gives him brothers, and it’s nice for him to have a group of supportive guys who are passionate about freestyle skiing. This naturally limits screen time, so he’s not playing Minecraft or Fortnight, or any of those video games that I know keep many a teenager engaged for hours. If he’s not active in sport, I know the screen time could become an issue.

We have also chosen this lifestyle because we want them to have a life long love of being physically active. We have tried to steer our kids towards things that they can do forever. Ride a bike, skate, ski (as long as your body holds out)! Healthy kids, turn into healthy adults and we all know it’s a benefit to your mental health to move your body and stay fit!

It is expensive to have three kids involved in multiple sports, but we’ve made it a priority. We don’t eat out a lot, we get a lot of second-hand gear and equipment. Some months are more expensive than others, but overall the price we pay is worth it for what we get.

Do I have dreams of raising the next Olympian? Absolutely not. I fully support them where they are, but we don’t push because we want them to experience things outside of sport as they get older and we want them to go to University. We make sure our kids take mental health days if they are tired so they don’t get burnt out. We encourage them to do art, and spend time outside and with friends to stay balanced.

As for me, you can find me in the car; spending time with my kids, listening to them, talking to them and just enjoying the ride.

See you on the road,