Busy? Try keeping up with the Barnes family

The Barnes family of from left to right, Brie, Jon Jr. and Hannah in the front row and parents Jon and Ruth. (By Blake Sebring of News-Sentinel.com)
Snider's Hannah Barnes knocks down a three pointer in the second half during a December 16, 2016 game against North Side. (Photo by Dan Vance of The News-Sentinel)
Jon Barnes takes a shot at warmups during a January 13, 2017 game at Snider against Homestead. (Photo by Dan Vance of The News-Sentinel)
The youngest of the Barnes family, Brie, playing last school year as a fourth grader for Harris Elementary. (Photo by Ellen Vance for The News-Sentinel)

Every parent of young athletes knows they are there mostly to provide rides, but also they are really along for the ride.

There’s a constant call to pick up or drop off or go to see practices and training sessions or to go see the games. At this time of the year, the schedule feels endless as everyone scrambles to find a routine, or anything resembling one.

Jon and Ruth Barnes are a typical example. Their daughter Hannah, 18, plays for the Snider girls basketball team, while son Jon Jr., 15, plays for the boys squad, and daughter Brie, 10, is starting her career in AAU basketball. That can mean anywhere from six to eight games a week.

How in the world could any family make this work and have any sense of a normal life?

Well, realistically, they can’t, but the Barnes do a pretty good job, and it’s because all five family members work together.

“We’re lucky right now because things have been kind of slow,” Jon Barnes said. “Things are just starting to pick up with high school.”

“January will be chaos,” Ruth Barnes said.

The family has to be super-organized, using such things as a family group chat, a calendar service that alerts all their phones, dry erase boards in the kitchen for scheduling and grocery lists and very understanding employers. Jon is a program developer for Lincoln Financial, and Ruth works for MedPro Group as an associate underwriting manager. Both have laptops that allow them to work anywhere, and they know because they have.

It was a huge advantage for everyone when Hannah received her driver’s license. Still, the Barnes parents are driving all over town almost every night.

“Organization is obviously one thing,” said Jon, a member of Snider’s 1992 state championship football team. “You have to be able to trust your kids to make certain decisions on their own. The great thing about having the kids in sports is that they learn responsibility and how to deal with adversity.”

Part of that adversity can be budgeting time for studies, which are a priority in the Barnes household. Early on during their child-rearing, they decided Jon would primarily focus on athletics, while Ruth would be in charge of academics, with plenty of overlap on both sides when necessary.

If the grades slip at all, the phone privileges are the consequences. The phones are also turned off and turned into mom and dad’s room by 10 p.m. every night.

“I don’t think we spoil them by any sense, but I think there’s some good give and take when they come home with good grades,” Jon said. “They are working hard at their sports. If they want a phone, we give them that, but if there are issues that’s the first thing that goes. We taught them that early on so that they understand it’s a give and take, just like life. If you work hard, you have, and if you don’t work hard, you don’t have. It’s plain and simple.”

Meals are also planned out. After trips to the grocery on Sundays, the Barnes like to grill and eat healthy. Everyone pitches in to help in the kitchen, and they also like to cook big meals that provide leftovers. Their go-to meal away from home is Subway.

Unlike some families, the Barnes do not have any grandparents nearby to pitch in on travel, but they do have very good friends they can rely upon. They also help out whenever they can. Jon coaches an AAU team in the summer.

“In summer it’s like our family grows,” he said. “With the boys or girls that I’m coaching, we inherit a few kids whose parents can’t make it. Maybe they can’t get to tournaments out of town, so we’re responsible for even more kids. Once you get organized and are used to doing something, you can add more kids.”

“We’ve had tournaments where we’ve had to take both of our vehicles, and I drive a minivan,” Ruth said. “If we are doing well enough that we can give an opportunity to another kid, we’re going to do that.”

Family vacations revolve around basketball tournaments, but the Barnes are good at setting up side trips to museums or entertainment options around the schedule.

It may sound like the Barnes have this parenting gig all figured out, but they work at it constantly, never take it for granted and are always questioning to stay involved in their children’s lives.

“If you are thinking correctly, you put your kids into sports because it keeps them busy,” Jon said. “There are expectations that coaches have for our kids. It’s so much more than just sports. We want to be the best parents we can. That’s why we are so attentive.”

It’s all about preparing their children for college and life, and athletics can definitely help with both of those. The great thing about their children being so heavily involved in sports is that the Barnes know where they are, who they are with and what they are doing. They also know who the friends’ parents are and they all work together.

“It makes them realize they can’t go out and just do anything because it’s going to get back to us,” Ruth said.

“Any kid is going to test the waters and push the limits, but we’ve been fortunate,” Jon said. “Doing their sports and getting good grades, they are too worn out to try anything else.”

And so are their parents.