I can barely eat or sleep because I’m so obsessed with the possibility that the Chicago Cubs could win the World Series this year. Even more obsessive is the fear that they won’t. Most of the games start during the dinner hour which makes the idea of putting together a family dinner laughable. Last night I was up so late watching extra innings that I barely woke up in time to put bowls of cereal in front of my kids before school.
The playoffs are making me a terrible mom! What should I do?
Congratulations on your Cubby Bears, Play-Off Mom! Having lived in Chicago for over a decade, my social media feed tells me you are not alone by any means in your obsession (and your fatigue from late-night play-off watching).
I’m an avid sports fan, so I understand that feeling of anticipation/dread that comes with a potential championship; for fans of the Cubs, who have waited so long for their team’s moment in the World Series, I can’t even imagine how exponential that feeling is.
You ask what you can do? I can’t really give you a solution to your angst, sadly. It’s all up to your players. Get some exercise, avoid too much caffeine (except for staying up for the games), blah, blah, blah…I’m sure you’ve heard all that stuff before.
What I can tell you is this: you are not a terrible mom because at one, singular moment, you are paying attention to baseball games more than breakfast cereal. The kids are fine, and years from now, what they will remember is not that they had dinners scraped together hastily, but that their mom was an enthusiastic fan who taught them to love the game of baseball and their favorite team.
That said, here are some quick suggestions for how to capitalize on this Cubs moment as an opportunity for your kids to become more independent, and for all of you to enjoy some new time-saving options:
1) Fill containers in your fridge with pre-made sandwiches, hot dogs, etc.—whatever your family would love at a picnic or barbecue—along with raw veggies, dip, etc. When dinner time comes around, have the kids each grab a sandwich and veg, and call it a tailgate dinner. Even for little ones who can’t fend for themselves, your work at dinner time would be quick. Everyone should eat on paper plates with plastic utensils, so no clean-up required.
Do the same for breakfasts, making a big pot of oatmeal and portioning it out ahead of time, or filling baggies with cereal and containers with fruit for them to grab on their own. Teach your older kids how to make coffee for you, and offer them a bump in their allowance if it is hot and ready when you come down to the kitchen. They will love your grateful hugs when they hand you a cup of wake-up juice following a late-night game. See what a good mom you are, fostering all this independence!
2) Make freezer meals ahead of time (a quick google search will give you ample suggestions, although this is one of my favorite resources, as it has breakfast and dinner options). Better yet, get together with other fans on a non-play-off day and all make them together at a freezer-meal party, so each family can take home an assortment of different meals with less individual work/cost. Commiserating with other fans after losses or celebrating following wins could be therapeutic.
3) Order a pizza. Or two. Again, the kids won’t die. Having a balanced diet sometimes means “during play-offs, things are not balanced, but 90% of the time, we don’t eat pizza.”
Just giving you recipe suggestions doesn’t seem like enough, so I’m going to leave you with my own recipe for a fall elixir (read: cocktail.) While regular season baseball is all about the boys of summer, the play-offs are a decidedly fall affair, and Play-Off Punch plays up those autumn flavors.
Start by making the base, something you can do mindlessly while watching your Cubs. Your whole family will love the way your home smells while the cider steeps, so they will forget that they were given a baggy of dry cereal and a cheese stick as they left for school that morning. Once you have your concentrate, you can serve Play-Off Punch hot or cold, depending on the weather, or your need for either celebratory bubbly or warm, liquid comfort. Non-alcoholic, kid-friendly options are provided within the recipe, as well.
- 1 gallon apple cider
- 1 lemon
- 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger
- Whiskey (bourbon is our favorite) or rum, to taste
- Champagne, prosecco or sparkling wine (if served cold)—preferably something dry, not sweet
- Sparkling water or ginger ale
- Pour gallon of cider into a large pot over medium heat. Using a vegetable peeler, peel large strips of lemon zest and place in the cider. Peel off any particularly hard sections of ginger, then cut into ½ inch-1 inch pieces, skin and all, and place in the cider. Allow cider to steep and reduce to ½ volume. Remove from heat, and add the juice of the lemon, stirring to combine. Pour through a fine mesh sieve/strainer to remove ginger and lemon peel.
- If serving warm, pour into cups, and add spirit of your choice (we love bourbon.) This can also be served without alcohol, although you may want to add some warm water to dilute it.
- If serving cold, chill mixture until cool. Fill glasses halfway with cold cider concentrate, add a touch of the spirit of your choice (again, bourbon was our favorite), then fill with a dry champagne, prosecco, or sparkling wine. For those not drinking alcohol, fill halfway with cider, halfway with sparkling water of ginger ale.
Best of luck to you and to all those losing sleep this play-off season! #FlytheW