If there’s one good thing about saying goodbye to Summer, it’s that it means saying hello to a schedule. Yes, Summer’s freedom is wonderful, but there’s something about the rhythm of a schedule, of knowing where we need to be and when, that most of us crave.
Of course, getting back into a routine doesn’t come without it’s drawbacks. It seems that the return to school also means the return to every extracurricular activity known to man. Soccer, swim lessons, dance class, the list goes on. When you have multiple children with multiple interests, you quickly discover that the schedule you so desired has suddenly taken over your life.
Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that way. The following five tips will help you manage your family’s extracurricular activities so that they don’t end up ruling your life.
Five Tips to Keep Extracurricular Activities From Ruling Your Life
1. Decide what works for your family
We live in a society where over-scheduling is a way of life, for both our kids and ourselves. However, as Miss Humblebee’s Academy founder and CEO Crystal Labbe points out, it’s important to remember that “just because your child is involved in five types of extracurricular activities doesn’t mean [he] will grow up to be a prodigy, anymore than sleeping with a book under [his] pillow will make [him] smarter when [he’s] awake.”
It’s understandable to want to sign the kids up for every fun opportunity that arises, but do you really want to spend the next few months only seeing your kids as you cart them from one thing to another?
Some families enjoy the constant motion and if that’s you, that’s great! But if you need some downtime, decide as a family how many commitments you’re willing to make. Maybe each child can choose one activity to participate in. Maybe you’re willing to do activities that take place on the weeknights, but not on the weekends.
There’s no one right solution for every family, so do what you think will work best for you.
There’s a good chance you know some of the other kids at the activities your child participates in. If this is the case and those kids live nearby, talk to their parents about carpooling. It will save you time and gas money, and can be especially helpful in situations in which you have multiple children with multiple activities to attend.
3. Plan, plan, plan
Get a big calendar and write everything down. Everything! If you love organization, color code it. Then take 10 minutes each night to not only figure out what’s going on the next day, but also to gather up everything you’ll need.
The kids should help with this! They can get their soccer gear and put it in a bag by the door while you pack a few snacks, or they can make sure their violin music is in their folder while you chop vegetables for tomorrow’s dinner.
4. Pack healthy snacks
If your kids are anything like mine, they’re ravenous after school. If you’re rushing them right from school to their next activity, you don’t want to have to stop for fries or doughnut holes to fill their bellies. Having healthy snacks ready to go will satisfy their hunger and keep up their energy and strength.
For healthy snack ideas, check out these posts:
Top 5 Healthy Snacks for Kids Playing Sports by Mommy in Sports
Healthy and Easy Toddler Snacks from The Pinning Mama (this list is good for toddlers or big kids and she includes a handy printable so you’ll never run out of ideas!)
5. Use time and resources wisely
This tip could really go along with #3, but I thought I’d give it it’s own spot to share some suggestions on how to make this work.
Maybe your schedule goes something like this: Pick up kids from school, bring to activity, sit on bench for an hour while they complete activity, realize what you had planned for dinner will take too long to cook, stop for pizza on the way home, stay up way too late completing all the work you didn’t get done earlier.
If this is your schedule even two or three times per week, you’ve probably already realized something needs to change. Try some of these suggestions to use your time and resources to their fullest:
That phrase strikes fear in the heart of many a parent. It doesn’t have to be a lot of work though, and it will absolutely save your sanity. Plus, the Miss Humblebee’s Academy blog will be bringing you meal planning tips and menus in the coming months, so all you’ll need to do is stop by here, then shop and cook!
Use Your Crock Pot:
The crock pot is an amazing appliance. You can throw ingredients into a slow cooker in the morning, set it, and forget it. On the nights when you’ll be home late, the crock pot can save you money and your family’s health.
Get Work Done While You Wait:
I know this tip may not work for parents who have to entertain younger siblings while the older ones are busy, but if it is a possibility, take advantage of it! Bring along your laptop to answer emails or complete work you didn’t get to at the office. Use the time to plan out the rest of your week or make your meal plan for the following week. When used wisely, all that time spent waiting can turn into time well-spent.
Regardless of whether your child does one extracurricular activity or ten, by following the five tips outlined above those activities don’t have to rule your life.
And in the moments when you’re feeling over-scheduled, consider cutting out an activity or two. When you don’t have every minute planned, wonderful things can happen. Perhaps you can do as Labbe suggests:
“Allow your children to sit still with their thoughts and imagination. The most memorable experiences can blossom when boredom sets in.”