We have the best of intentions. We want our kids to have opportunities that, perhaps, we didn’t have. We want them to be active and challenged. We want them to be able to explore their different talents and hobbies.
So my husband and I sign our kids up for extra curricular activities. It might be soccer, gymnastics, basketball, Little League, ballet, flag football, swimming, or piano lessons. And in too many cases, it’s not just one activity (guilty as charged!). Parents these days tend to sign their kids up lots of activities (so at least I’m not alone), that come down to two reasons: some parents have a serious case of FOMO (fear of missing out), while others simply say yes to make their kids happy when they ask if they can try out for different teams, sign up for yoga, or join the Chess club.
The reality is that, aside from the expense, there is such a thing as over-committing to too many after-school activities. My daughter is on the gymnastics and jazz dance teams, and she also signed up for dance. She chose all of them herself, and if it were up to her, she would also want voice lessons. But I drew the line there. It’s too much already. Yet I struggle to say no when she clearly loves what she does and excels in her different activities.
For now, I am finding creative ways to make her schedule work without forgetting any of the scheduled pickup times and trying to be extra patient when we end up doing homework after dinner. Even though Thursday nights are torture because she trains until 7 p.m., if I took gymnastics away from her, she would be miserable. It’s her passion. Her smile when she masters a new skill or gets a great score makes it all worth it. Even the extreme crankiness when she’s so tired she really doesn’t want to read her chapter book or when getting her to brush her teeth seems like a major production.
It’s easy to tell others what to do, but when your own child has multiple talents and interests, it’s painful to say no. You feel like you would be clipping your child’s wings. I’ve learned to handle the situation by sitting down with my 10-year-old girl and explain that even if she wants to do something, we need to consider whether it fits in with the rest of her day, with school, and our goals as a family.
Her dance classes and team align nicely with gymnastics, so for now they’re still a go. We’re learning to adjust our dinner times, and my daughter is getting better at getting most of her homework done before she trains, plus recharging with snacks during the day. I’ve mastered working from my car while I wait for her, whether it’s replying to emails or jumping on conference calls. I guess we are both learning to manage better. Instead of wasting my energy complaining about how stressful it is, I’m focusing on how to take down the stress level a notch or two.
What’s saving my sanity is keeping everything written down: meets, training sessions, classes, lists of supplies or gear. There’s so much to juggle! My husband and I also share a calendar that alerts us when we need to pick up our kids or when there is a game or meet scheduled, complete with location and travel time, if needed.
We can only hope all these small sacrifices will continue being worth it.More On