Friday, August 12, 2011

Activities, Programs and Clubs... Oh My!

I remember when my firstborn was a tiny little baby, I sat nursing her while watching Dr. Phil on Oprah. I remember clearly the topic had to do with over-scheduled children. And I know that I sat there, agreeing with Dr. Phil and shaking my head at the mom whose children had activities every day of the week (sometimes two or three in the same day). I thought, what is her problem? Can't she see that it's too much for her children? I will never be like that! Sheesh!

Ah, the good old days when I knew everything and was so sure of myself.

Flash forward eleven years... I have four girls very close in age, and as I'm looking at the activities for the upcoming year I feel myself reddening. I'm still no where near the level of the mom back from the 2000 Oprah show, but I see that we're also not relaxing at home every evening listening to the crickets and drinking lemonade. Sigh.

So what do we have going on this year? Well, some of it remains to be ironed out. One major factor (issue?) for our schedule is swim team. Swim teams can be a big commitment - but in our case, I've scaled down the number of practices we attend to the bare minimum required at each level. However, I still have four kids on the team, many at different levels, so the practice times do not necessarily overlap. This leads to me being at the pool at least four times a week. No good solution there. But I digress.

One thing that has seriously helped me retain my sanity is keeping all activities to "after school" hours. By this, I simply mean afternoons and evenings. I used to try to take advantage of homeschool classes that met in the mornings, or swim practices that meet in the middle of the day ... and I found that we were unable to accomplish anything after we got back home. I typically avoid anything that begins before 2pm, although I make an exception for rollerskating and bowling (both begin at 1pm) as they are on Fridays, and Fridays are usually our light days.

Even if we're not doing school that week, I don't enjoy breaking up my days in the middle. I find it makes the days feel rushed and we "lose" time. For example, last year I took the girls to homeschool swim practice a few times. We had to leave our house at 10:30am and we didn't get home until almost 2pm. By the time everyone showered and had a snack, it was almost 3pm. I have to start on dinner around 4pm, so to me, almost the entire day was shot at swim practice. Not worth the effort.

Here is the very, very tentative* plan for the upcoming year (still very subject to change):

  • Swim Practice (evenings)
  • Drama Class - Sept. - Nov. (early afternoon - only 3 girls)
  • Zumba* - this is a free class at the Y; the kids love it, but I'm on the fence about trying to fit this in (afternoons)
  • Book Discussion at Library - this in only once a month for my oldest
  • Junior Leaders - evenings (only 2 girls)
  •  Book Discussions and Library Programs - typically 2 -3 times per month (afternoons)
  • Swim Practice (evenings)
  • Music Lessons - all four girls (this is an all afternoon affair)
  • Swim Practice (evenings)
  • Family Bowling League* - my husband and I are considering this as our family would be a team and it seems like a fun program - it meets Oct. - April (evenings)
  • First Friday - American Girl Club (afternoons)
  • Second Friday - *Book Club (I'm still working on getting this together - afternoons)
  • Third Friday - Homeschool Rollerskating (afternoons)
  • Fourth Friday - Homeschool Bowling (afternoons)
  • Swim Practice (very, very early morning - 6am)
  • Swim Meets (typically once or twice per month)
  • Volunteer at the Food Bank (whole family, twice per month)
  • Fellowship and Religious Education Classes (we'll be going at least twice a month as my husband and I are team teaching the Grade 3-4 class)
What's Not on the List?
  • One of my daughters has wanted to do football since she was about 3 - this year the Y is offering a co-ed flag football program. If we agree to sign her up, this would mean practice once a week and a game on Saturdays.  
  • Cheerleading at the Y - several of the girls have asked to do this every year, and every year I say no. I will probably say no again this year, but we'll see. The problem is timing - it's Tuesday and Thursday evenings, which conflicts with many other things. On the upside, it's only for 4 weeks.
  • Various programs that come up throughout the year - we take the girls to many symphony and orchestra performance, plays and musicals; we attend programs at our state and local parks; we attend programs offered through the YMCA; and we usually go on several homeschool field trips with other families
  • Everything my husband and I do that doesn't involve the kids! 
I think that covers everything I can think of for now! 


  1. Wow, all of you definitely keep busy! My son only does Hapkido here and Tae Kwon Do when he's with his dad. Must find local swimming lessons...

  2. I know, it's a lot. But of course we have a lot of kids! :) Sigh. Many of the things are only once a month, but that means there's something every week... One good thing is that we're home so much during the day most days. But the flip side is that we have evening things most nights... since my husband is never home for dinner (work schedule) it isn't as bad as it would be, but I still wish for sit-down dinners more than we get. I can't wait for my girls to be old enough to do the weekday morning swim practices. That will alleviate an enormous amount from our schedule!! But that's a ways off...

  3. I know how you feel. I can see us heading in that direction some time soon. I always used to want extra stuff on during the day but now I can see that afternoons and evenings are best.

    I think most homeschooled kids get plenty of downtime so it shouldn't be a huge issue.

    For me if we were schooling from 9 to 3 and then heading out every arvo for a scheduled activity I'd have to be very careful with what we much to do and so little time! :-)

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