Juggling extracurricular activities

Take a deep breath mom! So you’re doing double duty. You’re working 9-to-5, taking care of things at home, and taxiing kids to their various activities after school.

Yes, in order for kids to be well-rounded, various activities outside school should be included. (Easier said than done! Right?) Offering your child many opportunities and experiences is priceless.

But, how much is too much? Is it possible to keep your child active and engaged without going broke or going crazy? Yup, we’ve all been there, you’re overwhelmed by your kids’ schedules and if you’re not careful, your fat, bloated schedule will spin out of control!

Remember: More kids equal more chaos with extracurricular activities. The first way to get a handle on all the activities is to simply limit the amount your children are involved in. A good rule of thumb is to limit activities to one per child per season. However, there is no one-size-fits-all regimen for extracurricular activities. Your child’s personality and capabilities, as well as your family routine, are the key factors to take into account.

Here are a few tips to make life easier:

Create a master calendar.
Hold a 5 minute calendar session every Sunday night. Write down everyone in the family’s comings and goings. Keep it organized and updated, colour coding each family member is a good idea. This way you’ll have a better idea of how certain days stack up.

Have a hierarchy.
Homework trumps sports practise. Keep an eye on your child’s grades. Stand firm in your policy that schoolwork comes first. Always!

Pencil in regular family-time.
If you can’t remember when you’re family sat down for a meal, something has to change! Make sure that you all eat a meal together, even if it’s once a week. Studies show that by simply sitting down for meals together as a family, kids do better in school, are less likely to become involved in destructive behaviours, are less picky eaters, and maintain a healthy weight.

Pack the night before.
Pack lunches, load backpacks and sports gear for much less frantic mornings. There’s nothing worse than showing up for rugby practise with your sister’s ballet shoes!

Plan your meals a week in advance.
Let’s face it, you won’t have time to make home-made ravioli when you have to shuttle 3 kids to activities! Also, have healthy snacks available to curb hungry appetites.

Consider proximity
The more activities kids can do at school, the easier it will be.

Ask for help
No matter how well you plan after school activities, something will overlap at one time or another. Make sure that you have a friend or a family member to call if you’re in a jam.

Find a carpool
Network with other moms. Most working parents will be thrilled to split driving duties.

Driving to activities could be a special time.
Have quality conversations with your kids during this time. Make this an electronic free time, make the most of it.

Lose the guilt.
You don’t have to be at every practise or show to be a good parent.

Slip some “me-time” in there.
I know, when?! Right? Sit alone in your car for 5 minutes before you get the kids. Think, unwind, and breathe!

Bottom line: It all comes down to balance. It’s more important for junior to be a happy, healthy, well-rounded child than the next 15 year old Olympic swimmer. Good luck!

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