“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?”
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.
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…
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.