Are You Schedully Challenged?

“A suburban mother’s role is to deliver children
obstetrically once,
and by car for ever after”

~ Peter De Vries

~
Friday date night couldn’t come soon enough.

I love Fridays. This particular Friday, I had just about wrapped up my work week and was greeting my parents as they walked through our door to babysit for the evening when my husband (just arriving home from work) appropriately asked…

“How was soccer drop off?”

Soccer?!
Our daughter!
@#$%
I forgot!

In panic I quickly raced outside to get my oldest (who was playing with neighborhood friends), rushed her inside to change into soccer gear, and proceeded to dropped her off at practice (15 minutes late).

Twenty minutes later, en route to our subsequent date night, enveloped in the stress and guilt of forgetting practice and not getting my daughter there on time, I attempted to organized a last minute car pool to get her home.

I used to love Fridays. Soccer season – now makes loving Friday’s impossible.

Schedully Challenged

It is easier than you might think to accidentally forget one of the many activities placed on our family’s calendar. Soccer, piano, swimming, diving, music, baseball… these are just a few of the extracurricular activities that my kids all participate in throughout the year.

My husband and I try to set realistic boundaries regarding what and how many activities our children can participate in. Guidelines that:

a.) Allow them to do activities that they enjoy, and
b.) Allow us to successfully manage their time and schedule.

Our current rule of thumb for extracurricular activities is no more than 2 activities at at time. In theory, one child participating in two activities (to us) sounds realistic. However, when you do the math:

2 activities x 3 kids = 6 activities
times multiple seasons

Then, add in other unforeseen events (birthday parties, play dates, academics) suddenly, the reality of the above mathematical problem doesn’t seem to equal out as well. Suffice to say, we’ve become a little “schedully challenged.”<– my made up word to describe how I feel most of the time.  

Having said that, the other day I was reading this post* by Rachel (the voice behind a blog named Finding Joy) that discussed how her family decided to “say no to the extracurriculars for a season.” And for a millisecond I imagined what life might be like if we just said no to all extra curricular activities.

No more traveling on weekends, juggling car pools, struggling to fit in dinner and practices and homework and free time and downtime … all between the limited school week hours of 4 – 9 p.m.

Most importantly, no more panicked “forgetful Fridays.”

For a moment this thought of extra-curricular absence had me paralyzed (and rather inspired). Is this a reasonable answer? What would our family’s life look like without all the running around?

Playing Devil’s Advocate

In my head I started to conspire…

No.
More…
Running?
Around!

A small smile begins to form at the same time as red flags also strike up.

If it is the “running around” that I want to stop, then I TOO would need to reduce my own activity schedule, because surely my schedule contributes towards all the busyness in our lives.

Teaching, leading, working, writing … so on and so forth. All the things that I love to do, yet also add to the chaos of our family’s crazy schedule. Should I stop all this too?

My conflict begins to build as I envision how much I would miss these important aspects of my own life. I’ve worked hard at paring down my commitments to include only things I feel passionate about.

Over Committed. Rushed. Exhausted.

Yes, sometimes I’ll admit that I’m all those things. But I’m also inspired, and hopeful, and motivated by what I chose to spend my own time doing when I am not enjoying time with my family. I wouldn’t want to stop my passions, so why should I expect my children to discontinue theirs?

Some weeks are better than others, some weeks are busier than other. The bottom line is that most of the time, my children always seem happy, healthy and excited to go to their activities. And most of the time – I don’t forget Friday night soccer practice!

Finding that fine line between family time and practice time, study time and playtime, my time and their time IS HARD.

  • Sometimes it means conflict.
  • Occasionally it can bring disagreements.
  • Once in a while it calls for an intervention to “rework” and rethink where we are in our lives and what fits (because life changes and we all need to be flexible and adjust).

Setting reasonable guidelines, knowing that some days will be busier then others and making sure what you’re doing is something you love – this is what I want to teach and model for my children.

However “schedully challenged” I may often occasionally be – I think our extracurricular schedule is here to stay… How about you?

Leave a comment: How do you gauge your families extracurricular activity limit?

*Note: I really admire Rachel’s family’s decision to “say no to the extracurriculars for a season.” You have to make the decision that is right for your family. For my family, at this time, that same decision doesn’t work. However, I do reserve the right to stop extracurricular activities cold turkey at anytime! :)

This week I am linking up with Bianca at Bits of Bee for her Quotable Bits Link-up.

This entry was posted in Chaos, Family, Motherhood and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Are You Schedully Challenged?

  1. angela says:

    I never wanted to be an overscheduled family, and our kids are still little enough that it’s not too bad.

    BUT? We’ll be in the same boat you are in a couple of years, and I kind of feel the same way about it. As long as people are happy with their chosen activities, I will try to work through the annoyance and hassle of keeping all the balls in the air (and drop offs on the calendar).

    I know that, for myself, when I think about losing my “extracurriculars” (like running, reading late into the night, writing fiction that makes zero dollars ever!) I feel discontent and not like “myself”. I don’t want my kids to feel like that.

    Balance, of course, but I have to be honest that balance might sometimes look like chaos as the kids get older!

    • Kate F. says:

      I love that –> Balance might look like chaos. Those are great, GREAT words Angela. Sometimes I feel like people think that balance is supposed to look like bliss, but I think chaos is SUCH a better description of it! :)

  2. Tatum B. says:

    I feel you on this one and knew several other friends would as well so I forwarded it on :)

    I don’t want my daughter to miss out on the things she loves either but some days the hustle and bustle is just too much and I long for a day off!

    We usually limit it to two activities as well and only the things she loves but right now she’s in three separate activities. I caved because while two are the duration of the school year (one weekly and one bi-weekly) the third only meets weekly for eight weeks. (Another rule is NO structured summer activities because by then I’m burnt out and ready for the break and honestly, I think she is too!)

    As for me personally, I try to keep it to one event a week and like you, limit it to the things I’m most passionate about. I think that makes a big difference! If I see it as an “obligation” rather than a passion, then it’s not worth the stress of trying to make it work or the time away from my family.

    • Kate F. says:

      Thanks for forwarding the post on Tatum ;)

      I loved your last sentence: “If I see it as an ‘obligation’ rather than a passion, then it’s not worth the stress of trying to make it work or the time away from my family.”

      That is exactly how I feel. EXACTLY.

  3. Justin says:

    I would wonder what your husband thinks? He has to work all day, every day, just like the kids have to go to school. How many scheduled extracurricular activities does he have? Does he want less, more?

    Thankfully, my kids are young enough to not be too crazy in regards to extracurriculars. We keep a busy schedule as a family, but we try to keep it balanced and not everyone rushing off in different directions. Eric does his thing Tuesday nights; I do my thing Thursday nights; we go to church together as a family (although sometimes split while we are there) on Wednesdays and Sundays. The rest of the time, we stick together. I still feel like my kids need me – a lot – and even part-time work/school still has them asking to play with me when I’m trying to make dinner or clean the house.

    I’ll work on setting limits for the kids when we get there, but for now, the only limits I have to set are on myself :)

    • Kate F. says:

      I would say that my husband is mostly on the same wave length as me. He is actually probably better at setting limits — well, maybe… hmm… I need to ponder that further :)

      I do know that he is 100% my partner in making all the things we do work. In fact, I most definitely would have to cut back myself AND have my kids cut back themselves if he weren’t such a true partner. I feel grateful to have someone share the responsibility of parenting with me.

  4. Bruna from Bees with Honey
    Twitter: beeswithhoney
    says:

    Extra curricular activities drive me bananas! All three of my girls are in dance. We haven’t even begun soccer yet. No more than two sports per child times three equals too many. How do you say no though? It’s tough. I hear ya!

    • Kate F. says:

      Saying “no” … the age old question ;) The more I practice the better I get (at saying no!). Instead of saying no for extracurricular activities I try to give my children a choice, such as: You can only participate in 2 things, which would you prefer to do? However, I will admit that sometimes I waiver – especially if it is an activities that is a 1-3 time commitment. I am totally stealing Angela’s comment on this post that maybe “balance looks more like chaos!”

  5. Bits of Bee says:

    Yikes! I can’t even imagine how you do it! I’m not quite there yet, but I’m very close. My 5 year old takes ballet classes and we’re thinking of enrolling her in something else as well. That’s enough for me, I can’t even imagine when my little guy starts doing extra-curricular activities as well! Thanks for linking up :)

    • Kate F. says:

      Fitting in extracurricular activities is definitely a challenge that each of us has to figure out on our own.

      (P.S. I found that quote and just thought it was perfect for this post! I’m always happy when I can link up to you – I only post once a week here, sometimes I am inspired from a quote/sometimes not – however I always love reading your weekly quote and the quotes of others who link up! Even when I can’t link up myself.)

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