It’s ball season again. The time when we lose half of our friends and family to the local ballparks for their children’s baseball and softball games.

Don’t read this the wrong way; I’m not opposed to letting our children play ball. I actually encourage it, but the level of commitment that is expected out of these kids and their parents is ridiculous.

Two of my daughters played ragball when they were very young. I was their coach, which meant that I got the privilege of scheduling practices, working around games and finally saying, “What are we doing? These are just kids. Let’s just show up on game day and have fun.”

Yep, I was that coach. These kids were 3-5 years old and the only reason they were at the ball field was to have a good excuse for getting dirty and playing in the grass. They had so much more fun when we weren’t yelling at them to be perfect at the tender age of 4.

I think that a lot of moms and dads, and even grandparents, forget that these early ball playing years are suppose to just be for fun and to help them learn the basics of the game. It’s not like these kids are getting college scholarships when they can’t even put their own gloves on their hands.

Take it easy, parents. Take it easy, coach. The sky won’t fall if your kid gets sick and can’t go to practice. I promise, the sun will still come up tomorrow.

The point I’m really trying to make is that baseball and softball should not be the most important things in your family’s life.  

I understand that as your kids get older, the stakes are higher and the intensity of the practice is heightened. I know that there are scholarships on the line when they reach junior high and high school. But these 3-10-year-old kids aren’t really supposed to be bearing the weight of your expectations of excellence on a ballfield. Remember, they still have school. They still have tests. They still have rooms to clean. They need to still have some free playtime. They shouldn’t be forced to live at the ballpark because you want them to be the next Babe Ruth.

Some kids love the ballpark and they would choose to do that over anything else. If that’s the case for your little angel, then have at it. You guys enjoy your ball time.

But more times than not, I see parents almost literally dragging their kids to the ballpark for the fourth game night of the week when that baby wants nothing more than to play with toys in their room or walk the neighborhood with mom and dad.

Don’t force your kids to do things that puts an awful strain on them and on the whole family. It doesn’t help them or you. You will all be frustrated and ready to get the season over with.

It’s a tough balance when you have a family, especially if you have multiple kids at multiple ages.

How are you going to get Sally to practice at 5 p.m., get Henry to his field for his game by 7 p.m., remember to take Jake to his practice at 6:30 p.m. and somehow still be able to have them all fed and bathed and in bed with homework done before midnight? It’s virtually impossible.

With these kids having three to four practices per week with games one to two nights per week, it consumes all of your time. And again, if everyone in your family is on board, then more power to you. But if you are forcing this on your kids, then stop.

Putting your children on a ball team is a great idea. It teaches them responsibility, gets them out of the house, gives them exercise and teaches them about teamwork. I am all for our kids playing ball. I am not all for young children being held to the practice and game schedule of a professional athlete.

Just like everything else in your life, keep youth sports in perspective and in moderation. Don’t quit your whole life for a three- or four-month ball season. Let it add life to your family instead of sucking the life out of your family.

If you feel it is a strain on your family or your children, back off of it next year or find a team that doesn’t have such a demanding schedule. When you are playing happy, you are playing better, anyway.

Find your family’s perfect balance and enjoy the ball season together instead of dreading it.

This Week's Circulars