In the last 48 hours members of our household have: attended school, started a new quarter, supervised a student teacher, applied for a football coaching position, scheduled an interview, played the guitar, led a Bible Study meeting, bought a few groceries, read and summarized 600 pages of depositions in asbestos trials, played Sorry/Hangman/Yahtzee, solved the Sudoku and crossword puzzles in the newspaper, shuttled kids to school and practices, practiced hitting and pitching and fielding, ran the 200 meter dash and a leg of the 4×200 relay, attempted to jump both long and high, shivered in the wind while watching the track meet, fixed supper, finished homework, worked out at the gym, watched hockey and basketball on television, and typed a blog post while yawning. (Not to mention sleeping, eating, cleaning, laundry, and hygiene.)
Five people with a wide variety of interests and numerous appointments outside the house makes for a crowded calendar.Variety may be the spice of life, but all spices are better in moderation. So, how do we handle it?
First off, get organized. We have a master family calendar. Actually an 8 1/2 x 11 inch appointment calendar with one week per two-page spread. Lots of room to pencil in the school concerts, meeting, track meets, baseball games, practices, etc. Plus, we have a small magnetic white board on the refrigerator listing this week’s schedule and notes of additional things to do (like put out the thrift store donation on Friday morning.) We can immediately see the conflicts and know whether or not to accept an invitation.
Second, try to limit the chaos. Generally, we’ve limited the kids to one extra-curricular activity or sport per season. This spring, we agreed to let the 8th grader do track at school in addition to his competitive baseball team since the competition schedules only overlap in the month of April (and once he gets to high school he’ll have to pick a sport and might never experience track otherwise.) Three days in and I’m not so sure that was a good idea.
Third, divide and conquer. My teaching husband heads home about the same time the boys get out of school and with only a few miles out of his way, he can pick them up and save me a trip (and gas!). Since I do a lot of reading for my work-from-home job, I can do that part anywhere – even in the parking lot during baseball practices. So I’ll shuttle the 14-year-old to his practices while my husband watches the other two kiddos at home and sets the table for the supper I put in oven on time-bake.
Last, clear communication. Honestly, this is where we tend to fall apart. Once you develop a plan to get everyone where they need to be, on time, and with the necessary equipment, then you have to make sure everyone knows their part. (We’re finding that texting comes in handy!)
If I want my kids to be well-rounded individuals, then I’ve got to accept and accomodate the variety of interests and cluttered calendar that come with the territory.
What about you? Did you try a variety of things or quickly settle into a select few? How do you find a balance between letting kids explore options and maintaining family sanity?