Swimming, Jr Life Guards, soccer, music, theater, oh my! When extra curricular activities rule (or ruin) your life.

When my daughter was as young as 6 months old, I had her in swim classes and a community play group. When she was 1, she was in a baby sign language play class and swimming. When she was 2, she was in tumbling and swimming. Then all the while during her preschool days, we religiously went to a weekly mommy and me music class. She also did dance class and gymnastics. Phew! Once we hit preschool, we were a part of a co-op where I worked in the class once a week.

We had time back then. I only worked 20 hours a week the first year of her life. And that is with only going into the office for 3 hours a week. I worked fulltime after she was a year old, but only 2-3 days a week in the office. With her being my only child, it was easy to fit in all these extra activities. And frankly I loved it. It was fun and a great way to get both of us out of the house.

But now I have 2 kids. Not only do I have 2 kids, but my daughter is in kindergarten everyday, where I work in the class once every other week. Now you would think I would have more time with her in Kindergarten every day and working less in the class than I did when she was in preschool. But somehow it doesn’t work that way. Kindergarten is only 3.5 hours long. In that time, I grocery shop, clean house, play with the baby, get the baby to bed, and hope for 2 hours of work time before having to pick her up from school.

We have only 1 extra curricular activity at the moment, and that is swim class twice a week. So from 4:00-5:00, we are walking to the pool, she is in swim class while the baby is in the gym childcare, and I am lucky if I can swim laps for 20 min. We have been doing this routine Tues/Thurs for 5 months now. And I am pooped!!!! This week, the swim school is on vacation from the holiday. Tuesday afternoon, we played in the backyard, I cleaned the kitchen, watered the yard, slowly made dinner, watched some TV, played in my daughter’s room with her, and maybe even watched a cloud pass by. My husband came home to a calm and mellow wife. Not some spastic crazy ball of fury, trying to rush to get everything done, the kids in bed, and on the couch with my laptop working by 8:00 pm. It was heaven!!! And it made me realize, that I need a break from having to be somewhere, at the same time, twice a week, every week.

Soccer is next, coming August!

However, our little break will be short lived. School is getting out for summer in a couple of weeks, and the extra curricular activity cycle starts all over again. Jr Life Guards gets started, then soccer in August. Holy Shit!!! At least in July, we should have a little break.

There is a part of me that feels as though our children benefit from having free time. Where they can play, make up games, dig in the dirt, have alone time to explore, etc. I totally agree! I kept my daughter so busy when she was a toddler and preschooler, where she can barely play by herself these days. She has a very short attention span for playing on her own, and I blame being all up in her ass for the first years of her life.

OMG! She needs music classes now, or she will miss her window of opportunity to learn an instrument. (sarcastic tone)

There is another part of me that wants to sign my daughter up for every single extra curricular activity she shows any interest in. This way it gives her exposure to all the killer genres of hobbies available. I already know, she isn’t into gymnastics. And even though she loves to dance, she really isn’t into dance class much. I think she would love theater, and would love to get her into a theater class some day. I also would love for her to learn how to play an instrument and maybe the baseball team. Holy Shit! You would think I wouldn’t be so anal about all this, but I can’t control myself. It is like a sick disease or something. She has so much life ahead of her. Why do I need to push her to try activities that she may not have any interest in. When she hits 4th grade, she can play in the school band if she wants. They also offer a drama group at school. There is no need for me to pay money for a class across town.

Then there is my little sweet baby boy. He is 20 months old and has not taken one class in his cute little life. No swim class, no music or baby babble classes. And you know what? He is the most content little boy ever. He can sit and play on his own for hours. Ok, maybe to say hours is a bit of an overkill. But he can play on his own for at least 30 minutes. In baby time, that is like forever.

I do plan on putting him in swim lessons or maybe a mommy and me music class in the fall. But my daughter will be in 1st grade until 3:15, so it will be so much easier to manage one child’s activities at a time.

I think in the end, I need to stick with my goal of 1 extra curricular activities at a time per kid. And have periods of a break between activities to stop and smell the roses, or in this case, stop and smell the dirty dishes in the sink. We need to find a balance where myself and the kids can be home with free play, as well as hauling their asses around town for games, classes, etc. If someone has the magic cure all solution for this, please share!

I need a swagger wagon, just to haul them around to all these activities.

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8 thoughts on “Swimming, Jr Life Guards, soccer, music, theater, oh my! When extra curricular activities rule (or ruin) your life.

  1. Yeah, these days it seems our society thinks being good parents is signing our kids up for everything under the sun. I think letting them chill out and hang for the first several years in life is a good idea. They’re busy growing and learning anyway!!

    • It is true, todays society thinks that if kids aren’t exposed to all sorts of activities from the minute they are born, they will not be well rounded children as they grow. Which isn’t true. I am a well rounded adult and I had maybe 2-3 activities that I did every year outside of school. Art classes, swim team, and the summer softball team. And each activity took place at different times of the year. There would be months that I had nothing going on. It was fine until the teen years. I found in the teen years, if I didn’t have any extra curricular activities going on, I was getting into trouble. But we are far from that at the moment. I have age 6 to worry about right now. That is a hand full alone!

  2. I completely agree, that society seems to pressure us moms into believing that we are not doing the best thing for our child(ren) if we do not sign them up for every activity available. Personally, I really hope that my daughter, who is almost 4, will someday find an activity that she loves. And I plan on doing everything in my power to make sure that she knows what is out there. But as of right now, she has never taken a class or done any kind of “real” structured activity. Instead, we play ABCmouse together, do art projects like making and painting salt-dough ornaments, and explore our neighborhood when the weather permits it. As a result, she is very secure with herself and will literally play on her own with dolls or action figures or crayons, for an hour or two at a time. I am looking forward to preschool in the fall, because the one aspect of kid-dom that she currently lacks is the socialization with peers. She has a couple of friends that are approximately her age, and a herd of older cousins, but as of yet she hasn’t experienced the feeling of being in a “herd” of her peers.

    As a caveat to my “no classes” stance right now, we will be doing some structured swim classes at the Y this summer because I believe that swimming is not only a fun activity – it is lifesaving for children to know how to at least stay calm and float.

    I know that I will probably be the mom-shuttle eventually, even if I hope to do so without a minivan. And I’m okay with that. But I will always treasure the time that we spend together now, just flying by the seat of our pants.

    • My daughter is OVERLY social, to the point where she gets in trouble at school for being too social. I wonder how much of that is from all the activity she was brought up with or if it is just her personality. I am super outgoing, so it could just be apart of her personality.

      I agree withs swim lessons. They are an important part of safety. We come from a long line of swimmers in our family. And it is so far the one activity that she has loved since she was a baby. So I feel fine supporting that. Hell, maybe some day she will want to be on a team. But I don’t want to push it.

      I am finding with my son, it is very satisfying to watch him be able to play on his own and be happy and content, even without all the classes and activities that he could be signed up with. I don’t regret having my daughter in all the activities growing up. But at the same time, as the years progress, I am learning that we can only handle one activity at a time, and we need breaks from activities.

      I have to admit, I am totally looking forward to soccer. It will take tons of restraints from being that mom who is screaming at the coaches, umpires, and kids. LOL!

  3. 1 at a time per kid seems like a good balance for us right now too, but I kind of hope I find some extra energy somewhere because I’d really like to have the kids in both music and sports year-round at some point.

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