Unfortunately, I cannot bilocate. That really would’ve been the answer to “doing it all” now wouldn’t it? When we started the soccer season with Will, we just had John Paul in tow and I was pregnant with Anna-Laura.
Easy peasy, lemon squeezey.
Now that everyone has an activity (yes, I include Luke’s weekly therapy visits as his!) it gets a little dicier. Here’s a few things we’ve learned along the way.
HDYDI: MANAGING KIDS’ ACTIVITIES
1. Do your darndest to limit them to one activity per season. I sometimes hear my friends talk about shuttling their kids to football, baseball, gymnastics practices, along with a piano lesson, religious education and Boy Scouts. Personally, I think THAT IS NUTS. Kids should be allowed to be kids. Kids should be allowed to try new things, but I certainly don’t think they have to try it all in the same two-month span.
2. It does get a little tricky when the kids are in an activity that meets year-round, say dance or music lessons. In that case, we’ve made an exception for either the fall OR the spring (but not both) that they can have one additional activity.
3. I think it’s worth reminding ourselves that if our kids don’t begin playing youth sports by age 4, you’re not going to derail a high school, college or pro career. Shoot, most of our kids won’t make it to the pros. Activities should be about two things: 1) having fun and 2) getting great exercise/learning a new skill. That’s it. Refrain from burning your kids out just because you want them ‘involved.’ If you’re in it so you can plaster how “awesome your family is” all over facebook or if you are so totally stressed out because your family calendar looks like a term paper attacked by a red pen, you might just be in over your head.
4. Crazy as it sounds, ask your kids what they want to do. I love piano and Scott loves basketball, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that our kids will, too. They know they can’t do it all and by choosing their activities carefully we’re also teaching a few life skills: problem solving, budgeting and time management. Often times, it’s taken our kids days to decide which activity they love the most and that makes me very happy. We hear very little whining, if any, about practices or meetings for their selected activity. They’re excited about doing it. Plain and simple.
5. A couple of years ago, when Luke hit the hospital crazy, we cancelled all spring activities. That is a tradition that has stuck and it has allowed for some awesome family time. We recognize that decision may not last many more springs as the kids get older, but we’re going to enjoy it while it does. As the song goes…’let them be little, ’cause they’re only that way for a while.’ Amen.
6. Set a budget. That’s a must. Activity fees keep getting more and more expensive. We sometimes scan the fees before presenting the options to the kids. It’s life.
7. If you can swing it, try to coach or volunteer with an activity. Your kids will definitely enjoy the extra time with you and you get an opportunity to see your kids in their natural habitat: with their peers! Scott has coached flag football and basketball and really grew as a dad and as a coach. It made us both way more appreciative of the coaches who came before him. Having me coach would be a train wreck, but I have volunteered in various capacities. Shocking, I know. It’s been great fun.
8. Most importantly, forget about keeping up with the Jones’. I know it sounds super cool to have your kids taking karate, rugby or flute lessons, but temper the temptation to take it to a whole other level. Listen to your kids and help them discover their gifts and talents. Childhood should be fun. And, sometimes that just means kicking around the soccer ball in the backyard or playing a neighborhood staple like hide ‘n go seek.