Every Day Is an Audible: 8 Parenting Tips I Learned from Football”

The Schneidler house is a crazy mess of activity.  Between two fulltime working parents, 3 kids in 2 different schools, sports, school, ministry, community volunteering and just life in general, A-Day-In-The-Life-of-Schneidlers is CRAY-CRAY!

 In fact, after what seemed like the 60th adjust on the fly “I-thought-you-were-picking-up-the-kids-what-do-you-mean-you-are-still-in-Tacoma??!” type of days, Michele & I created a new Schneidler family mantra:

 “Every day is an audible.”

 au·di·ble -- ôdəb(ə)l/ -- When a football player (generally the quarterback) changes the play call at the line of scrimmage.

Have you ever watched a football game and heard the quarterback yelling strange words while at the line of scrimmage?  (Remember Peyton Manning’s infamous use of the word “OMAHA”?) When he does this, it is called “calling an audible.”   Normally, most plays are called while the team is in a huddle.  However, the quarterback will often 'audible' if he doesn’t like the original play call based on what formation he sees the defense in or if there is an opportunity that could be exploited to the offense’s advantage. 

The same can be true in parenting. 

The challenge in parenting isn’t deciding what to do when everything goes exactly as planned.  The question is how we parent when things go NUTS? 

Things in the Schneidler household are often NUTS. And my wife Michele would tell you flexibility is not my greatest strength (somewhere my wife is throwing her head back and letting out a loud, indignant “HA!!”). I prefer “calling one play” in my family “huddle” and then sticking with that play.  But Michele & I have found in life—just like in football—that doesn’t work too well.  

Instead, what we’ve found works better in our family is to approach each day with the recognition it will very possibly require flexibility—i.e., calling an audible.  So what does it mean to call an audible in our lives as parents? 

Just like football, there are elements of a good audible in parenting:

 1.    Be Alert – Stay awake.  Keep your eyes open.  Things are bound to get crazy. 

2.    Head on a swivel – Be aware of things around you. Keep your eyes moving. Don’t focus on any one thing too long or you’ll miss something important.   

3.    Recognition – An audible is called to avoid the bad – when things are about to go crazy – as well as capitalize on the good -- when you see something to help you achieve your family’s goal.  Know what you’re looking for and recognize it when you see it.

4.    Reaction – it doesn’t help to see something happening if you don’t know what to do.  Instead, make sure you’ve prepared beforehand so you know what to do. Talk to your spouse or friends.  Learn from each other’s experiences.

5.    Stay flexible – As soon as you make your plans, be assured they will change.  The question is—will you?  Our good friend Lisa Qualls over at One Thankful Mom wrote a fantastic blog post on the importance of staying flexible. Take a look and learn from Lisa!

6.    Communicate – Proper communication requires two parts: (1) speaking; and (2) hearing/understanding what was spoken. (After all, have you ever seen a walkie-talkie sold by itself? Of course not. It takes two.) The same is true with an audible.  Like the name implies, an audible only works if the rest of the team hears & understands the call.  For example, it’s largely believed Manning’s use of the infamous “Omaha” meant “backwards.”  So when Manning yelled “Omaha,” it was a secret code known only to his teammates: “Hey guys, the defense is ready for the play I just called in the huddle, so let’s run the opposite play instead.”  So in parenting, find a way to communicate quickly & effectively as a family.  Be it phone calls, emails, texting, bird calls, the famous chicken dance… whatever works.   

7.    Execute.  Once the audible is called, the play is changed.  Now the whole team needs to adjust & work together.  Execute properly.  When everyone does their part an audible can be a thing of beauty.   

8.    Stick together.  Perfecting the audible takes practice.  So does adjusting on the fly as a family.  So whether your first try works out or not, always remember: you’re on the same team.

Here’s the thing.  While Manning’s ridiculous use of “Omaha” seems silly, the truth is proper use of an audible requires an incredible amount of skill, experience, creativity and lightning fast instincts in order to do it well.  The same is true with parenting.  So if you are brand new to this parenting thing (or if you are like me and don’t like change), fear not! Each day is a new day to practice. So practice being flexible.  Practice extending grace.  And if you’re like me, practice seeking forgiveness when you screw up!!

 We can do this, friends!

 PS – if you are a football nerd like me and want to learn more about the use of an audible, this is a fascinating video explaining it.  Pardon the curse word in the title of the video.


Andrew Schneidler