“Give Me ALL the Activities”
Is it just me, or is the vision of getting your kids involved The Plan?!
Oh dance… yes, let’s do it. Did you want to play soccer? You do? OK,done! They have an opening for piano, you said you wanted to play, right? OK, you’ve been signed up. I’ve done all that… ALL OF IT. (And maybe I still do, whoops!)
I decided, before my kids were even on this earth, that they would be doers. I was a doer… that’s how I grew up. That’s what they want, right?!
Then what happened? Well, it all got REAL. This one has football practice on Wednesday and games on Saturday. And now this one has piano on Thursdays and soccer on Wednesdays, too, with games on Saturday. And we can’t leave the little one out… she wanted to do dance. Dance is on Tuesdays. Everyone is running. We are going. I know my kids are watching and learning what it takes to keep a daily regimen. I want them to know how important it is to stick to activities they (or should I say “I”?) committed to.
However, when I pushed it to that point, I started to feel an imbalance. Our world was feeling overwhelmed and over-committed.
Family dinners became eating in a rush at the breakfast counter or in the car. Daily homework was done in a hurry and seemed even more stressful… Did I give her enough attention when she was asking questions? I like a busy life, but I don’t like questioning whether we are giving attention where it needs to go when it comes to our kids. School is important, their sleep is important, finishing their work is important, and activities are important, but so is downtime. Burning out my children (and parents) is not The Plan.
Reaching Your Limit
So, what do you do when you have stretched yourself (and your family) past the limit?
First off, it doesn’t mean you have to give up and throw in the towel. Yes, make it easier on you and the children; do your best to NOT over involve them, but for families like us who have more than one or two kids and want to make it fair for everyone, YOU CAN DO THIS. And you know what it takes: being prepared!
#1: Create a family schedule.
It is helpful when you have a schedule that your partner and you can access any time of the day. Our family does this by sharing a family calendar on our phones. That way, when we have a commitment, we can add it to the calendar and include the address and which parent is the one taking them. This works! I do not find myself calling my husband at work, giving him the rundown and making sure he is paying attention enough to remember the location of the soccer field.
#2: The cleaner, the better.
A clean house is a clean mind.
And DISCLAIMER: This will always be a work in progress for me. (I tell my mom all the time, “I wasn’t born with that obsessive cleaning gene.”) So, why does having a clean house affect the ease of your evening activities? Because you can actually FIND the dance bag, soccer shorts, shin guards, and water bottles. When things are in their place, the scrambling is REDUCED. And that’s heavenly right there.
#3: Pre-plan the meals.
Now, I’m not the best at this, but I’m always working on ways to improve, and I do notice a difference in the quality of meals when I make sure what the kids are eating doesn’t come from a fast food drive-thru. Being a working mom and the one who takes care of all the meals – if you have a partner that cooks YAY! You’re already a step ahead! This you can plan together – I make a weekly menu to help make sure I have the items in the kitchen and so I don’t have to wonder at 4 pm, “what will everyone be eating tonight?” There are now a bunch of tools and strategies out there that help you with this: crock pots, pressure cookers, recipe apps, menu planning apps, pre-making meals and freezing them, and the list goes on.
#4: Set expectations.
I like talking to my kids when I’m helping them get ready in the morning and telling them, “Hey guys, after school,we have football practice. So remember, I’m going to pick you up right after school and we are going to change and go.” Plant the seed, and at the end of the day, there are no surprises of why you are there to pick them up and want them to grab their stuff and go.
#5: Stay true to the schedule.
I have found this to be so important. My kids know we don’t skip things “just because.” I want them to recognize that if they ask to play a sport or activity, the commitment is MADE. If you want to enroll in it, then let’s all see this through. This helps with the battle of them wanting to stay home because their favorite show is on or they see their neighborhood friends playing outside. And in turn, this is a big time saver (it’s weird that bargaining with your kids to go to the sport they wanted to sign up for is a thing, but it absolutely is).
So whether you want your child or children to get involved in one activity or many, you can make it work without the overwhelming feeling of “is this worth it?” It’s all about what works for your family dynamic. If it’s a positive influence, it is worth it and there is no greater lesson for your children than them seeing you work through life’s various obstacles.