Whether you’re a hockey player considering having kids or you’re thinking of returning to hockey after becoming a mom, this one’s for all the hockey-playing mamas!
From the physical changes your body experiences through pregnancy to the significant change having children has on your day-to-day life, becoming a mom and staying in the game can be hard. We asked three of our WHL Brand Ambassadors (who are hockey-playing moms themselves) to answer four questions to provide advice for you in your journey of motherhood and hockey!
What are your best tips and advice for getting back into hockey after having children?
“My first tip would be depending on when you had your child, I would say you need a few months to give yourself time to train. Hit the ice once or twice a week, start skating again before actually playing a full on game. Practice some basic drills on and off the ice as well to get your body used to hockey again. Also, make sure you begin a gym routine that works for you. By going to the gym and doing a light weight workout routine and some cardio, it will help you gain the strength you lost during your pregnancy.” – Ashley Mouzzon
“I think the best tip is to be organized, whether that be planning or communication of your hockey schedule with your significant other. Having a comprehensive schedule between parents or your main support system will allow for the ability to get back into hockey. Getting away two or three times per week can get difficult sometimes so organization is key.” – Jessica Jones
“Just do it. Obviously it is easier said than done because little ones suck all our energy out during the day. I think signing up to play with a team is a great motivator to get back into the game because you have your teammates counting on you to come (if you say you are going to).” – Heather Mannas
What are your best tips and advice for moms who feel like they can’t get back into hockey because they don’t have the time or child care?
“Certainly this can be tricky, and to be honest, this is a main deterrent for moms. It is tough because it is a significant amount of time away from the home. I would say that moms sometimes need a back up babysitter. There have been a few instances where a couple of my teammates have left between periods because they needed to get back to their kids. It’s a juggle for sure, but if you want to play hockey, you need to make it work for you, whether that be breastfeeding/pumping or feeding between periods, or bringing your three-year-old on the bench. From my experience, we all get it. No one judges and your teammates can be a wonderful support.” – Jessica Jones
“Honestly, I took four years off playing because this was my struggle. I was either pregnant, nursing, pregnant, nursing and my husband worked 80-100 hours a week with no family in the city to help. Finding child care is hard! If your child does not have a set bed time, it makes it quite difficult for you to hire someone to look after them or put them to bed. I think a lot of moms can agree that we like to do things a specific way especially with bedtime routines. It’s not easy hiring someone to help with that. It took some time but I found a couple babysitters we trust with our children.
I really struggled with finding time to play because the first team I found when we moved to a new city was over an hour drive. Fortunately, during my time off, I found a team that plays much closer, but it’s a total game changer with children, especially when you don’t have your partner or family around to help you. If you are able to find someone to look after your child/children, you can sign up to play part-time with a team. Depending on your area, there may be drop-in shinny for women only and/or co-ed depending on what you’re comfortable with or drop-in stick and puck. Since I wasn’t quite ready to commit to a team because I was still trying to find time and child care, I subbed a few times for a team (who I happen to play for now).
There are also other ways to get involved with hockey while you are off the ice. You could always teach your child how to skate, teach your children the game, etc.” – Heather Mannas
“When I played my first season, my husband had two long work trips and I had to find babysitting. I will not sugar coat it, its hard to find childcare especially if you have late games or the games are on the weekends. My suggestion would be to try and work this out before the season starts. If necessary and affordable, make sure you have a babysitter you can rely on who can watch your child if your spouse or a family member is unavailable.” – Ashley Mouzzon
What advice would you give women who are thinking about having kids but are worried about how it will affect their ability to play hockey?
“Hockey will always be there and the opportunity to have kids will not. I know a lot of people who had issues conceiving or dealt with miscarriages so if the opportunity is there, I would take it. Time goes by so fast and after taking four years off, the game hasn’t changed.
Physically, getting back in the game depends on your body and your birth. Don’t expect to jump back on the ice right after having a baby—although I’m sure women have done it before. If you had a c-section (or stitches) after birth, that will impact your physical ability to play right away. A lot of us fall out of our exercise routines during pregnancy so we are not as fit as we used to be after pregnancy, so that may affect your cardio and strength on the ice. Be easy on yourself.” – Heather Mannas
“Before I had my son, I was in the best shape of my life. I actually ran a half marathon when I was pregnant. As the pregnancy went on though, I found it difficult to run or do much of anything due to bad morning sickness. Every pregnancy is different and sometimes women can workout until the day they have their baby. So whether you are like me or you find it easy to continue modified workouts while pregnant, go for it. Do not allow yourself to worry about what is going to happen to your body after pregnancy. It WILL change and WILL be different, but after time and commitment, you can get yourself back on the ice.” – Ashley Mouzzon
“Pregnancy does take a toll on our bodies, no doubt about it, but honestly the worry is just a worry. I think there is a little nervousness about not being be at the level you once were, and for sure, a lot of us have to get back into shape. But how do you do this if you don’t strap on the skates again?
Emotionally, hockey helped me immensely. I needed to do something after having my son that was for me. My emotional well-being was increased substantially to have the social interaction with my teammates, and I also felt so much better getting out and being physical. I would say, put these worries to rest. Get out there, strap on the skates when you can because I think you’ll find that it is benefit to you, and you know what they say, ‘happy mom, happy baby.'” – Jessica Jones
What is the best motivation you can give to moms who want to continue playing hockey?
“When I see my kid waving at me from the stands, I see that he is proud of me. I see myself being an example to my child, and this fact is very heart-warming. I am nowhere near the best player on our team, but hockey makes me happy, and if it makes you happy, continue doing it. Having kids is life-changing, absolutely, but there are ways to make things work for you. You’re still a person after having kids and many of us need to remember this. You’re not a bad parent for prioritizing your wellness, and if you find wellness from hockey, it’s worth every minute spent on the ice. Strap on those skates and do you, Momma.” – Jessica Jones
“Just like anything after having a baby, it will be hard at times but that doesn’t mean you have to give up what you love. As long as you find joy in playing, then by all means play! You enjoy the game of hockey for a reason and it is okay to allow yourself that time to play the game you worked hard to get back into.” – Ashley Mouzzon
“The game will always be there and there are so many moms playing hockey! Women’s hockey is incredible and one of my favourite things is you can start the sport at any age. Don’t worry about being out of shape and being slower on the ice, there are literally hundreds of women who went through a similar situation and can relate. Just get out there, have fun and enjoy your solo mom time!” – Heather Mannas
Feature photo: Jessica Jones