Monday, October 19, 2009

How-to: Survive 6 a.m. Freestyle Ice

I am a zombie. So is Ice Girl. She has three mornings of 6 a.m. figure skating freestyle ice, which makes it tough to fit in homework, Facebook, and sleep.

It’s the homework and sleep that we struggle with and I’m sure all of us 6 a.m. ice parents are struggling with it, too. To tell the truth, we struggle with Facebook, too, but it seems like it’s only a problem for me. Ice Girl likes Facebook just fine.

Six a.m. ice is a fabulous thing, especially during hockey season when afternoon freestyle ice is limited. Fewer skaters attend 6 a.m. ice and we parents have a camaraderie that comes from the warrior mentality we share.

So. How do we balance sleep, skating, studying, and socializing? Not well. Here’s what I’ve tried that works/doesn’t work.

Homework in the van. This has marginal returns. Sometimes Ice Girl claims that she has car sickness and can’t study, sometimes she does fine. I have purchased a couple of Lightwedges that I keep in the van. They’re great for reading books, but lousy for doing math.

Enforcing a bedtime. This seems like the obvious answer, but it’s a tough one to enforce. Ice Girl sometimes has homework that takes her past the early bedtime and what do I do? Call the coach and cancel the 6 a.m. lesson? Still working on this one.

Banishing that stupid cell phone. I get it. Ice Girl wants a social life. Part of that life is texting. However, when she’s doing homework or supposed to be sleeping, that cell phone is in a different room. We’re working on setting a homework timer and allowing five minutes of texting for every 30 minutes of homework. How’s that working? Great – when we remember to set the timer. Not so great when we forget.

Sleeping in skating clothes. If you tell Ice Grandma that I send Ice Girl to bed in her Under Armour I will deny, deny, deny it. But, between you and me: I do. This is actually Ice Girl’s great idea and I just pretend that I don’t know she sleeps in her skating clothes. Let me tell you: it’s better for her to wake up five minutes before the van leaves and squeeze in enough Z’s than to wear p.j.s that she’ll just throw in the backseat anyway.

Facebook. I come home from work and Ice Girl and I have the homework discussion. How much of it requires the computer? She’s allowed to use the computer only for that portion. The problem is that Facebook often distracts her from that portion. This is an ongoing problem that most teens and parents have, I think. My only solution is to do spot checks on her, but those have marginal returns.

All in the van before bed. Neither Ice Girl nor I are great at thinking in the morning, so we both put everything we’ll need for 6 a.m. ice in the van before bed. I keep a checklist on the garage door so we don’t forget socks, gloves, or skates. This works pretty well most of the time. Sometimes Ice Girl just assumes that we have pony tail holders in the van because we almost always do…until the one time we don’t.

Coffee. After 10 years of living caffeine-free, I’ve given in. Java, java, java! Ice Girl hates the stuff.

Social. Ice Girl fills out the ice contract each month, so she knows when she has ice and when she’s free. This works pretty well most of the time. However, her friends aren’t planners like we are. Ice Girl just received a Halloween party invite that conflicts with ice time. Am I such an ogre that I’ll force I.G. to skate instead? Nope. I’m a softie. Here’s to hoping we can get a switch!

No ice the night before. I won't take Ice Girl to the rink the night before 6 a.m. ice. It's just too much to ask her to skate, study, eat, and sleep in the four hours between the final school bell and setting the alarm. We're pretty successful with this, but then Ice Girl skates a ton on the weekends. That's tough in her new skates.

Update: After reading this comment from Anonymous, I shall never whine about 6 a.m. ice again. Right. We all know that's a total lie.

Only 6am?! Lucky Ice Girl! I have 4am ice three times a week and start work at 5am on the alternate days- it took me about six months to get into a proper routine for it, and I fell asleep at work twice (which is pretty hard when you work in a casino!)

Update: Reader Anonymous gives 10 tips for surviving 6 a.m. ice. Here are two:

5. no double trips in one day if you're going to go in the morning don't go at night homework needs to be done at some point

9. do not i repeat do not fall asleep on the drive over this is what loud music was made for

Update: Reader Anonymous has a male figure skater. Here's what Anony's son does:

He only skates during the week and is off weekends. He keeps the same bed time during the weekends and gets up on his own.

Update: I have no idea how this works, Anonymous, but I'm willing to learn.

My skater is still small enough that she warms up and stretches in the backseat during the 30 minute drive. By the time we get to the rink, she's pretty much ready to go.

How do you survive 6 a.m. ice? Are you doing a better job than I am? What’s your secret? Please share both successes and failures!


Elisabeth said...

I remember reading in Michelle Kwan's autobiography that she and her sister would sleep in skating clothes and just wake up and go.

When I skated, I had a couple of early morning practices. I would also sleep in my skating clothes, get up and go. Luckily, at that time, the ice rink was a mere 10 minutes down the road. So I could get up at 5:30, have some breakfast and then my mom and I would go.

For the facebook problem, I could suggest a harsh alternative and that is to block the site temporarily or move the computer to a more 'public' location and then you could keep better tabs on her facebook addiction. But it's all up to you, really. Facebook and youtube weren't even in existence when I was skating so this was never a problem.

Sounds like I.G. gets out of school late! 4 hours between the final bell and bed time? That's insane.

For in-car homework, you could make sure she does math at home and if something is left over, have her read in the car. Of course, on days I was running late, I'd save 10 minutes by putting my skates on in the car and walking in on hard guards.

Anonymous said...

Would it be good to self record what she needs to remember on the tape recorder or handphone? Then she can listen to it on car trips. It's hard to read in a moving car but listening and thinking and memorizing? Maybe some math formula or some important passages or notes. Hope it helps :) heh heh - LG

Anonymous said...

We only do one early morning skating practices. It's hard to get my daughter up, but once she's up she gets ready very quickly. Her school starts later that day so I'm not in such a rush to get there early. On the same day we have practice after school so that's kind of hard, but it works out with her other activities. I think it's a good idea for IG to make out her own schedule so she knows when she has to get up.

Jillybean said...

We only go to early morning ice in the summer.
My older son needs to be to school before we would get back from the rink and I have to make sure my younger son actually gets out of bed. Early mornings just aren't an option for us.
The homework thing is a tough one. My daughter gets car sick whenever she tries to read in the car too. We have just over a half hour between the time she gets home from school and when we need to leave for the rink, so she tries to get most of it done then.
I laughed out loud about her sleeping in her skating clothes. I used to do that too. I used to skate at 5:15 am and we were 20 minutes away from the rink.
Smart move making sure everything Is in the car the night before. It would be a shame if you forgot her skates and didn't discover this until you got to the rink.

Not that we've ever done that.........

Anonymous said...

I also used to sleep in my skating clothes for 6am ice.

Be careful with leaving the skates in the car overnight. I knew someone whose skates were stolen out of their car, and it was locked and parked in their garage (thief broke in through the garage window and broke the car window).

Ethelapple said...

my daughter HATES when we leave the bag in the car and her skates are cold in the AM...LOL

ebingley said...

We had early morning skating this morning - 10 minutes into the drive we got a red exclamation point on the dash. My husband told me to come home right away so he could take care of it and when we pulled up, the light went off! (But we missed the skating so we took it in anyway).
But I LOVE the sleep in your warm up gear idea - fabulous, thank you!!

Anonymous said...

6 A.M. skating is pretty bad considering mussels are not warmed up however they can also be pretty fun. here are my top ten tips for surviving them
1. go to bed early the night before ( difficult for teens)

2. sleep in skating clothes ( you seem to have that one covered)

3. coffee or Dr.. pepper or diet coke ( SOMETHING CAFFEINATED)

4. warmer skating clothes ( the earlier the session the colder the ice)

5. no double trips in one day if your going to go in the morning don't go at night homework needs to be done at some point

6. you defiantly have the right idea pack the car before you go and make sure it is filled with blankets

7. let the first period teacher know if your going to be five minuts late every morning

8. eat a hot breakfast it wakens your mind

9. do not i repeat do not fall asleep on the drive over this is what loud music was made for

10. make sure your skater wants to do this there is no point getting up early other wise

Anonymous said...

DS skates four mornings a week. We do one afternoon mid-week to break up the early mornings. That way we don't have to get up super early five days in a row. It helps a lot! We've done it both ways!

He gets to bed at 8, if he is wonky in the morning because of going to bed later than that (rarely more than 30 minutes late) then I just gently, but firmly remind him that it was his choice period. Granted he is very motivated, so we rarely have a problem (knock, knock).

I figured out how much sleep I need and I have to get to bed at around 9:30 to get the amount I need. that means getting ready starting at 8:30. It's really hard and most days I don't make it, but it's a goal I shoot for. It really keeps the zombies at bay for sure!

He's in middle school, so maybe he doesn't have as much homework as Ice Girl. He prefers to do it at home rather than at the rink.

I get school clothes ready and in the car the night before, but the skates remain in the house by the door, it's too cold in the garage.

We eat a good breakfast before going to the rink and then a "lunch" afterwards. Not a snacky thing, but protein, carbos etc.

He only skates during the week and is off weekends. He keeps the same bed time during the weekends and gets up on his own.

No FB and limited computer time. His distraction is reading. But he knows that if he gets to sleep late, he doesn't skate well in the mornings.

Guess I just figure if he wants to skate, he has to take responsibility for his own behavior, he's old enough to do it. I'm not going to fight with him or put up with his whining when he is tired (unless he is sick or something...)

good luck! It's a challenge for sure. These Ice Kids are amazing

Anonymous said...

Only 6am?! Lucky Ice Girl! I have 4am ice three times a week and start work at 5am on the alternate days- it took me about six months to get into a proper routine for it, and I fell asleep at work twice (which is pretty hard when you work in a casino!)

You sound much more organised than the skaters that stumble in after me for 6am ice- there's always a cry or two of "where are my tights?!" or "does anyone have a spare scrunchie?!". Just make sure IG is getting enough sleep, and not just lying between yawns that's she's doing fine, because if exhaustion really kicks into gear it can take months to fix- been there, done that.

Anonymous said...

My daughter also has 6 am ice 3 days a week, and she skates on Saturdays. Her coach has a lot of students, so Saturday is a must for a private lesson.
My daughter started getting dressed the night before on her own. It freaked me out the first time, because it just seemed. . . .odd. Now, I am only surprised when her hair isn't in a pony when I wake her up.
Ditto on the hot breakfast and having everything ready the night before. My skater now has her own travel mug, so she can drink cocoa while I slam down my 1/2 pot of coffee.
My skater is still small enough that she warms up and stretches in the backseat during the 30 minute drive. By the time we get to the rink, she's pretty much ready to go.
Our biggest issue is my 5 year old twins that stay home with Daddy until we get back from the rink. That's not working as well as we had hoped but I am NOT willing to take them with me at 5:30 in the morning.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, my skater has 3 mornings a week at 5a which means we have the leave the house at 4:10. On only one of these days she goes after school as well and it's in the early part of the week! We've added an afternoon nap on most days and she takes Wed totally off from the ice. In addition to sleeping in her clothes, she also keep a large stuffed animal/pillow and blanket in the van; she'll ofter be back asleep in the van before I pull out of the garage.

But all in all, the best tip I've found so far is the nap right after school. Then she does homework, eats dinner and goes straight to bed.

Bernadette said...

Hi Ice Mom!

To preface this, I'm not an intense ice-skater, but merely a 17 year old figure-staking fanatic. (i.e., I'm not good, I just started a few years ago, but I love it.) I love your blog and have been keeping up with it for some time, and decided to comment on this. I'm in a highly competitive high school that is extremely challenging, so that 5 extracurriculars are difficult to manage.

If you've ever making a big switch (i.e., from summer to back to school, vacation time to back to school, a switch or a more demanding schedule) try cutting down on ice time for a week. This will give everyone time to adjust to the new schedule, then make the change a lot less drastic. This will be imperative when she enters High School as well, as the change is usually dramatic and a bit tough for a week or so.

As for managing schoolwork and everything, some schools have the option where you can skip gym if you speak to the administration. Should Ice Girl want to do this (it does cut out a little social time) she could go to the library and work on homework so the night time is a bit easier.

As for facebook, that's a problem I STILL have to conquer - try turning the internet off if she needs to type a paper - for times when she needs research, you can temporarily disable the facebook account. (it can be reinstated at any time by simply logging in, but it helps relieve temptation). Then when that homework is done, give her a bit of leeway time.

For getting up in the morning - try splashing cold water on your face. It kills, but it works like magic. If she needs caffeine, Coca Cola works. (I hate coffee myself).

As for enforcing a bedtime, if she has homework that should always come first. Let her know that she can stay up for homework and ONLY for homework...because she's going to eventually, anyway, as the schoolwork gets harder.

Talk to her teachers. Ice Girl may hate this, but it's probably the best thing if she's serious about competitive skating. Again, she might get out of some special classes if she wants it (gym, art, music...depends).

Good luck, Ice Mom and Ice Girl!

Anonymous said...

Ice Mom,
Re: Anonymous DS skating only on weekdays.

DS skates a little less than 10 hours a week, with off ice twice-three times a week for 1/2 hr. He takes weekends off, as a personal choice. He loves skating, but he really loves his weekends too. LOL. He's pretty efficient in his practices during the week and we are lucky enough that his school starts late enough or that we live close enough to the rink for him to get his sessions done in the morning before school.

Last year we had to go back to the rink for group classes and off ice that he liked, but in general we were at the rink once a day, and this year we don't have that situation...yet... :)

He is a little messy on the ice Monday mornings, but he is usually fine after the first 1/2 hour or so. I think that the two day rest keeps him mentally and physically rested between weeks, and hopefully will help keep him from burning out too quickly. Others might not need that kind of rest, but it's worked for us for about 2 years now. He is a qualifying level skater, but his coach is fond of quality rather than quantity of ice time. It seems to work for us.

As he continues to rise in the levels, I don't know if we will need to add a weekend day or not, but we'll cross that bridge when we get there.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

How does my daughter warm up in the car? Well she's small enough still that if she sits in the middle ofthe back seat, she can do a straddle stretch and each side of her splits with the seat belt on. Before she gets in the car, she skips around the house for about 2 minutes. She then does the "ABC's" with her feet and ankles (drawing the alphabet with the big toe, both upper and lower case), and then starts stretching larger muscle groups. When we arrive at the rink, she usually skips or jogs until I get her checked in for her freestyle time. We get her skates on and she's on the ice doing laps. I hope this helps explain. Love your blog.

tattoo designs said...

Hi Elisabeth. Michelle Kwan and her sister was sort of addicted to skating. It's amazing.