How big families juggle after-school activities
Holding down a household with four kids is an inside carnival in itself. I have one child who’s grown and out of the home and four other children who have very hectic after-school schedules that rival the roster of most active adults — including myself.
Is there time for it all?
I’ve always admired soccer moms managing a van-load of kids and imagined I’d eventually be one since I essentially birthed my own soccer team. I’ve always marveled at those moms busying themselves driving to weekly games, sorting out snack schedules and arriving at practices all geared up in spirit-wear, with a cooler full of juice packs and that go-get-em’ gumption as their little ones looked over and searched for their mom beaming from the bleachers.
That’s great when you consider doing all of that for one kid — or maybe even two. But when you have four kids in various after-school activities and sports, it becomes a delicate balance of planning, coordinating and delegating responsibilities with dad.
My four kids — Kaitlin, Mikaela, Milan and Rudolph — started this fall season with after-school activities five days a week. There’s cheerleading (sideline and competition), cross-country track training, The Roadrunner’s Running Club, chess, chorus, art illustration and T-ball. In this case, I’m usually the designated driver, balancing schedules and pressing my brain not to forget who gets picked up at what time.
There was a point where I thought we definitely had after-school-activity overload and I was on the brink of pulling them out — or risk pulling my hair out. Even though with my hair flying all over my head and sweat dripping down my face, I might not look like the happy-go-lucky picture-perfect soccer mom, I have managed to navigate my kids’ hectic schedules without incident and here are a few key tips to help you too.
Google Calendar allows me to input detailed information about my kids’ activities. I indicate the time of each activity and the location. I also set the calendar to alert me of reminders a day before the activity and an hour before the activity, and they repeat weekly. I receive notices on my phone as well since my iPhone is synched up with my email. As you can imagine, my phone is buzzing all the time with reminders.
In this case Ride/share is about who the kids are riding with and who is sharing the responsibility with you. I was doing it all until I realized I had to share this responsibility with my husband to ensure that I didn’t feel overwhelmed. So we now rotate drop-off days. And it has become a lot easier and less hectic. It also helps to connect with another mom on your child’s team. That too can be an option and you can share pickup and drop-off responsibilities if you live close to each other!
Know before you go
Do your kids know what days and times their activities are? Tell them what days and times they have their activities. Make a schedule, print it and post it so they can remind themselves. Making your kids accountable is a great skill — and they will nag you enough that you won’t be able to forget!
A schedule before the schedule
In order to help your kids succeed you have to get things in order. I help my kids with homework and I also cook dinner early, which is a great help. Most days we don’t come home until 7:45 p.m. — and that’s too late to be eating dinner. So after homework, my kids eat dinner around 5 p.m. and then we head out around 6:15 p.m. for after-school activities.
Before long you’ll be the perfect "Momanger" managing your kids like a pro!