I only have two kids but for the past six years, I have made it my life’s work to supplement my children’s formal education with extracurricular activities. I’m a stay-at-home-mom so for now, this type of planning really is my life’s work. Unfortunately, most classes I sign them up for run in seven to 12-week sessions, which means that three or four times a year, I have to re-sculpt our schedules.
Since you’re reading this post on World Moms Blog, I imagine you may be an empathetic sculptor. We live in an era overwhelmed by activities and many of us fall victim to over-programming.
Since become a mom, I’ve worked really hard to maintain a balance between too much and nothing at all. During the long summer stretch, we’ve vacillated between trying a little of everything: farm camp here, sports camp there, swim lessons at the pond, time with grandparents, family road trips; and summers living wherever the moment took us. If you’re at all like me and cherish routine, I don’t recommend the latter.
When it comes to my kids, who are 6 and 3, my aim is to pepper their lives with a variety of activities rather than dowsing them with the entire spice cabinet all at once.
What I find works best for us is selecting one active class and one cultural class per “season.” If one of my kids shows a leaning toward a particular activity over another–like our daughter, who enjoys both swimming and gymnastics—then sometimes, if timing and finances align, I’ll include an extra class.
When program guides start arriving in my in-box, when the season for summer camp sign up begins, it’s time for me to break out my tools: a blank, week-at-a-glance sheet, a highlighter, a calculator and a bottle of wine.
We live in a part of the US where academia flourishes like wheat. Boston is the educational Mecca of America, home to more than 300 colleges and universities. Understandably, this fertile land has yielded a crop of well-educated parents. And well-educated parents have a demand to educate their offspring well, signing them up early for things like Suzuki lessons, pee-wee ballet, language classes and art. (Perhaps the only place more intensely driven in these categories is Manhattan.)
The proliferation of Toddler, preschool and after-school, extra-curricular offerings in our area is mind numbing. So mind numbing, in fact, that every time I have to sign my kids up for new options, it paralyzes me.
Sometimes I joke that I would make a better Communist than a Capitalist because the fewer choices you present me with, the better able I am to choose; offer me a world of options and I’m at a loss. I get caught up in the minutia: “If I sign my daughter up for a music class on the same day she has music at school, will it be overkill?”, “If I drive to the other side of town for a 4:30 Thursday class, will I get stuck in traffic and get dinner on the table too late as a result?”, “If I sign my son up for a morning activity on Tuesdays, will he no longer be able to have playdates with his friend, Charlie?”
I’ve learned not to involve my husband in the decision making process because it makes him crazy. In my husband’s profession, he has much bigger decisions to make involving entire company budgets and the actual workers affected by them. Somehow, the microcosm of my wee world seems like Whoville in comparison.
The best way to keep my husband involved with the goings-on of our progeny is to offer him the option of helping me select the type of classes to sign them up for. Once I have it narrowed down, and only if I’m really at an impasse about why one class might make more sense over another, THEN do I ask for his opinion. Otherwise, he’s happiest left out of the process.
Why am I mentioning all of this? Why should anyone care? Because it’s that time of year again, time to rethink the schedules of my wee-folk while also leaving plenty of time for them/us to be unscheduled and carefree. It’s also nearing the deadline to register for summer camps in my area (the ones that didn’t fill up in January that is), which means it’s time for me to go into systems-overload.
I can barely plot my vegetable garden, let alone plan out our summer yet these are the times and places we live in. You either jump aboard while the ship’s still in the dry dock or you put on your water wings and start paddling like crazy, hoping there still will be space aboard the vessel when you reach it.
Does this happen to you? Do you find yourself derailed by little things now that you’re a mom? How do you plan your child(ren)’s schedule?
The photograph used in this post is attributed to adactio. It has a Creative Commons attribution license.