We Are Both Right

Coming Up for Air

This is the type of coming up for air we wish we were doing right about now. Maybe next year. ©Juan Velasquez/stock.xchng

MYTH: Amanda and I have escaped to a tropical island with our husbands and are now sitting on teak beach chairs, pink drinks in hand, while we let this site accumulate dust bunnies.

FACT: The slow, quiet post-holiday weeks we anticipated have swallowed us alive. We are each ear-deep in science projects and laundry, work deadlines and stomach bugs. Dinner is pizza more often than not and by the time we’re each done wrangling the kids into bed, there’s just enough time to cap off the night with a melatonin cocktail. And maybe a quick phone call between us to say, “Yeah, I think I might be able to post something this week. Maybe.”

Just when did winter become the busiest season of all? I guess I should ask the same people who decided that the nice little rotation we had of baseball in the spring, football in the fall, and basketball in the winter should morph into each being a three season venture. Oh well. It’s all for the kids, right?

Anyway, as much as I’d love to chat, it’s time for me to take down my Christmas tree. The fake one. The real one came down January 2. I’m not that bad.

But I promise we will be back real soon. We have to. For sanity’s sake.

In the meantime, please tell us how you are coping with getting back to normal in this new year? We’re all ears.

Want to See My Kids? Their People Will Call Your People

Want to get together one afternoon? I’d love to. Except Mondays are out because C.’s got Cub Scouts and A. has Brownies. And Monday night, C. has basketball practice for one of his two basketball teams. Tuesdays are no good — both kids have religion classes. Wednesdays A. is going to start taking art classes so that won’t work. Thursdays C. practices with his other basketball team. Friday evenings he practices with the first team and that’s usually Pack Night for scouts. Saturdays? Ha. Don’t get me started on Saturday.

© mai05/stock.xchng

© mai05/stock.xchng

Now I know why Sunday is designated as a day of rest.

Yes, we are busy. Constantly going, always moving. But you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way. Because yes, while it’s nice to have some free time, I want my kids to be engaged, immersed, engrossed.

Out of trouble.

I am a firm subscriber to the school of thought that the more occupied a child is, the less likely they are to find themselves in a less than desirable situation. Now my kids are good, they aren’t troublemakers, but by keeping them involved in lots of activities, I’m keeping them off the couch. Away from the video games. Avoiding the “Mom, what can I do?” line of questioning that is always so charming.

Plus, I want them to try everything to see what they like. By varying their after-school recreations, they get a taste of what’s out there. And what they like and don’t like. Art class? That’s a keeper. Soccer? We’ll leave the goal scoring to others thanks.

Scarily enough, the winter isn’t even our hectic time. No, things really get hopping come March when baseball starts up for C. and A. plays softball and lacrosse. And those are their “standing appointments.” I still have to factor in science fairs and teacher conferences and birthday parties and class parties and school vacations and doctor visits and field trips and playdates and other events essential to their childhood.

So I guess I’ll see you in…July?

It’s a good think Suzanne is patient and willing to get together at odd times, otherwise we’d never see each other.

Walking the Tightrope Between Involved and Overscheduled

© William Wilhelms/stock.xchng

I feel my grip slipping. On our family’s schedule that is.

With an eight-year-old sports fanatic, a three-year-old who likes to try everything, and two full-time working parents, just one more commitment will knock us off balance — a balance I’ve tried very hard to keep ever since my son joined his first team.  Because once he took a liking to soccer, he started asking about baseball, and then football, and basketball. The tricky part was that he didn’t want to give any of it up as new interests developed.

But as much as we would have loved for him to sign up for eveything from karate to guitar lessons, we knew it would be too much of a good thing.  Not to mention super stressful for us, considering that neither of us gets home until 6 and didn’t want to rely on other people to shuttle him between activities (even though it turns out we now have to).

So we implemented the one activity per season rule.  The schedule hummed along fairly nicely for a few years.  Soccer in the fall, swimming lessons in the winter, T-ball in the spring, and camp in the summer.   Aside from sprinkling in religious education on Saturdays, we kept it evenly balanced by substituting football for soccer and basketball for swimming once he reached first grade. 

And then the baby who was content sitting on the sidelines up until that point started to walk.  And throw.  And kick soccer balls.  And ask to be on every team her brother was on and then some. 

Some people thought I was crazy when I had her in gymnastics at age two, but she insisted she wanted to jump and swing in a big girl school. 

I took full responsibility for that one, having planted the seed in a Mommy and Me tumbling class that I signed us up for, feeling guilty that we spent so much time running around for her brother’s activities and she didn’t have any time focused on just her. 

She loved it.  So much that the little balance beam wasn’t enough.  She wanted to go to “jumpy class” and play on trampolines, and do flips on the uneven bars.  But after one session of gymnastics (which was getting kind of pricey), I convinced her to try out tap and ballet since it would be an outlet for her energy, as well as her princess tendencies. 

And so we adjusted our balance once again.  The new strategy this year has been that M. takes L. to religion on Saturdays, while I am at dance class with S.  During the week, he brings L. to an agility training class, and basketball/football/baseball practice, depending upon the season. 

Our little ballerina is loving her dance lessons (and I love that it’s on a Saturday and not after work), but she still talks about jumpy class every day.  So I’ve promised her that once this year in dance is over and she has her big show, she can start up with gymnastics again in the fall. 

First we have to squeeze in swimming lessons.  Oh, and this weekend both kids decided they want to start ice skating lessons.  

See what I mean?  We are teetering.  And I don’t know if I can do anything about it.  Or if I should.

I have always been pro-extracurrricular activities. I played sports all throughout my school years, and went to dance lessons, and participated in Brownies and Girl Scouts.  In high school, when my afternoons were filled with track practices, newspaper meetings and yearbook planning, I realized why people with the busiest schedules are the most productive — because their time constraints force them to be efficient and prepared.  My husband and I have always wanted the same for our children. 

And some of their activities I consider non-negotiables, such as swimming lessons for safety and religious education.  Kind of like your core courses in college.  The rest are electives of their choosing — and they seem to be choosing a lot these days.

It’s just that we didn’t think it would be so complicated. And even stressful at times.  I am still trying to avoid stepping into the quicksand of activities and looking back to find out we’re sinking with no way out.  It’s one thing if I have to be up past midnight catching up with the day, but I want to avoid having our children feel overscheduled.  

So we’re constantly checking the gauges and can tell right now by our son’s passion for sports, that these activities are something we would (and could) never deny him. 

Even if it means eating take-out more often than usual during basketball season with its twice weekly games and practices. Or rushing him from a full day of camp to a two-hour football practice in the heat of the summer three days a week, as either of us spend a good part of the evening standing around on the field in our work clothes, trying to keep his little sister entertained. 

Come to think of it, maybe we should just send her out there as well.  She might like it. 

I don’t know what’s more difficult, trying to keep the children’s extracurricular schedules in check or actually getting through a jam-packed week of activities, like Amanda does.