When Miss Seven started Kindergarten, her dad and I decided to limit after school activities to two: one sport or otherwise something physical and one more arts focused activity. My, how times have changed. Right now, we have four extracurricular activities, and the possibility of another huge time commitment on the horizon.
Where did I go wrong?
I have trouble saying no–both to her if she asks and if another friend suggests something our kids could do together. And I have trouble letting go–like of activities we’ve been doing and enjoying for a while, especially those skill builders that only pay off if you keep at them.
Here’s where we are this fall–continuing piano for my oldest and swim lessons for both girls. They’re trying out a gymnastics class for the first time–my second grader doesn’t know how to do a cartwheel and feels herself quite lacking because of that fact! That’s something we’ve been meaning to try out and I’d just never looked into. A friend’s suggestion our girls do it together was enough impetus to make it happen. There’s also a six-week Saturday morning soccer academy, which I justify because it’s very close to our house, short-term and includes another friend.
So we have gymnastics on Tuesdays (really screwing with my dinner planning mojo, what little I have), piano on Wednesdays, swim for little sister on Friday mornings, soccer on Saturday mornings, swim for big sister on Sunday afternoons. OMG.
I kept Mondays and Thursdays open thinking that my daughter *might* try out for the school play again. Last year, she was in the tea party ensemble for Alice in Wonderland and had a great time, despite it being a giant time suck and stressor for me. (I did enjoy helping with the program ads though–let me volunteer from my computer, and I’m a happy camper!) We don’t know if she’d be chosen again this year, but she does want to try out. But can we really do an activity EVERY SINGLE DAY? It’s also possible the rehearsals won’t be on Mondays and Thursdays, which could make the decision for us.
Luckily, second grade isn’t too homework intensive, although there is something to be done most nights. I expect homework to increase in the spring semester. My girls like to play outside, and just have time to be kids–playing, making art, reading. I’ve been trying to be more intentional about setting up playdates (while overcoming my own social anxieties about doing so!). We’re also regular church attenders and love celebrating birthdays with other families, so the time commitments add up. We also pondered Girl Scouts, after her summer camp experience. But where’s the time?
I realize next year–or even next semester–I need to be better about helping my older daughter pick and choose what she really wants to do and dropping the things she doesn’t, even if it’s not what I would choose. (She’s such a good pianist already and it pays off in other intangible ways!)
In the meantime, I’m running from place to place and juggling schedules and meal plans. What day is it? Where do we go next? I know it could be much worse if the number of kids increased (no plans for that to happen!). I also recognize my privilege (the cost of these activities also add up–CA-CHING) and know that I will likely not always be a work-from-home mom with such flexibility to be able to make so many extracurriculars happen.
How do you find a balance of after-school activities? How much do you think is too much? I’ve definitely crossed the line, right?