School mornings are busy, but an experienced parent knows the real rush is after school when evenings are packed with extracurricular activities. One child has Scouts, another has piano lessons, and two have soccer practice on opposite sides of town. As a mom of six, I have survived busy weeks full of extracurricular activities and a calendar that can only be described as ‘complicated.’
Whether you have two or ten kids, here are some tips from a mom with a busy family:
Limit activities - The best way to keep your calendar from getting too full is not to fill it. Try cutting back on the activities you allow your child to sign up for. Time at practice can be reduced by allowing kids only one sport per season. However, sports aren’t the only activities that can take up a lot of time. Theatre, music, and dance, for example, can also fill up your free time. If your child has interests in both sports and the arts, try allowing one sport and one other activity at a time. Limiting activities will leave more time for rest and time at home.
Tag team - When multiple kids’ activities conflict, split up the time. Have one parent take a child to a birthday party, while the other parent attends the hockey game for the other child. Use the help of others, particularly for practices and rehearsals. Set up a carpool with other families and take turns giving kids rides to and from practices/rehearsals to limit your time spent in the car. Don’t feel guilty if you cannot be at every single event. If you miss one here or there, you can attend next time. Your child will not remember if you were at every game, just that you made the effort to be there the majority of the time.
Command centre - A carefully maintained family calendar is key to keeping everyone organized and where they need to be on time. Some families like to have a large calendar in a central location in the home, like a command centre. Others may like to use technology to track everyone’s comings and goings. Each family will find what method works best for them. The important part is that your family calendar is accurate and up-to-date.
Protect your downtime - Families who are constantly on the go need to be protective of their downtime. Having time for resting and relaxation is necessary to recharge and reconnect. Busy families may find it helpful to schedule family time on the master calendar so that the time scheduled doesn’t get filled up with other activities.
Plan ahead - Once you have your activities limited and your family calendar set, the best way to survive the busiest days is to plan ahead as much as possible. For busy nights, plan easy, on-the-go meals and snacks. Freezer meals, crock-pot recipes, and simple weeknight dinners that are prepped and prepared ahead of time will save you a lot of worry about getting your family properly fed and to practice on time. Pack up as many items as possible the night before so you are not rushing around at the last minute trying to locate shoes, uniforms, and sports gear.
There are multiple benefits to your children participating in extracurricular activities, but overdoing it can cancel out many of those benefits. Choose activities that your children truly enjoy and make sure there is still time to enjoy time together doing things you love outside of those activities.
Sarah is a full-time mom to six and a part-time freelance writer who has learned to balance her time wisely.
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