By Karen Green
At first, it was just gymnastics, each girl in a different class, but at the same time and in the same place. Then we signed up for soccer, a staple in Toronto that we were happy to continue in the cornfield—except with both girls now old enough to play, it will take up one evening plus a Saturday morning (gasp!). Next came swimming lessons—an absolute must for my water-fearful children, who will at least be in the same class (new session starting soon, time tbd).
Then I had the brilliant idea of putting them into Irish dancing lessons, which have not started yet, but will be Monday (6-year-old) and Wednesday (4-year-old). Oh, and spring has barely sprung, but my older daughter is already signed up for at least one week of riding camp in the summer, and we are looking for something else that both of the girls can do for a week. Plus, the girls are begging me for music lessons—flute for elder, drums for younger.
And just like that, I have turned into one of them.
I have over-scheduled my children. Very soon, we will be busy four out of five nights of the week. And I will pay the price.
I could say to you, “How did this happen?” But I know darn well how: I did it. My kids only asked for two of the things on the list—gymnastics and riding camp. Everything else I volunteered, suggested or went ahead and booked without discussion (swimming lessons). I did it partly because being freed from my full-time job means that my afternoons and evenings are no longer harried, rushed and stressed and I feel like I can give my kids more than my previous limit of one—ONE—activity per week. I also did it because, hot potato, things in the cornfield are so much cheaper than in Toronto, so I am not breaking any budgets by expanding our activity reach.
But the truth is, as enjoyable as all of these activities are for my kids, and as much as I love watching them partake, the extracurriculars do make me crazy. Yes, I am organized in a haphazard way—dinner is always in the slow cooker on gymnastics night, and soccer bags are always packed in advance to make getting out the door easier, but having to be somewhere at a set time with two kids makes me harried, rushed and stressed, regardless of whether I work in or out of the home.
Maybe things won’t seem as crazy once school ends and spring and summer sessions no longer overlap. Or maybe I will see the smiles on my kids’ faces and say, “Sure, honey! Drum lessons sound awesome! Do you want to do Brownies, too?”
I would love, love to go back to my roots as a schedule-averse, lazy mom. But who has the time?
How do you decide on extracurriculars for your kids? And do you ever worry that your kids are over-scheduled?
Karen Green recently traded life in the biggest city in Canada for life in the biggest cornfield in Canada. Freed from her full-time job as a writer and editor, Karen now spends her time…writing and editing. And frolicking in the leaves with her two small girls. Karen is a speaker, the founder of Mom The Vote and the author of the blog, The Kids Are Alright, where she has been writing about the humorous and poignant moments of family life since 2005. She is thrilled to be a part of canadianfamily.ca.