I was reading Julie Cole’s post today about her kids’ activities – wow they sound busy! And just recently I commented over at Rachel’s blog, who decided to take a step back and say no to extracurriculars for a year. For me, these are two extremes, too little or too much going on. Not that I’m saying it’s a problem for THEM to do it the way they do, just that for ME, I want extracurricular activities to somehow land in the sweet spot, just enough for each kid to get experiences and have fun, not so much we lose family time or individual down time.
The Almost 11 Year Old
My oldest loves sports. And tv, but for the moment lets talk about the sports, which thankfully keep him far away from the tv. I’m not disciplined enough to do it myself I guess. Although we are much better about these things in summer when it is easy and fun to go for a family bike ride or head to the great local parks. But anyway, extracurriculars. Right! My oldest just started middle school and just today begged for yet another activity – the afterschool volleyball program. It’s only 1x per week, right after school, so I said yes, but I hesitated. Because he also has Kung Fu twice a week and indoor soccer starts in mid-October. Volleyball ends early in November so there will only be a couple of weeks of 3 activities, but I really do prefer to keep it to two (one chosen by me, one by him).
The 8 Year Old
My 8 year, in grade 3 this year, is a sensitive and sweet boy. He would FAR prefer playing Wii, DS or on my old iPhone to any physical activity, but we can’t have that too often can we? He puts his brother’s tv habits to shame when I let him, so bad. He has tried a few different team sports to try and find something he loves and while he enjoys the team part in some ways (as in visiting together on the sidelines) in the ones he’s tried so far (soccer and baseball) he just hasn’t found his niche. This year he is doing once a week gymnastics as his chosen activity, plus the twice weekly Kung Fu chosen by me.
The Baby, aka The Almost 5 Year Old
Zilcho. No that isn’t a word. I don’t do activities for the kids til they are 6 or older. He did do some swimming lessons in the summer, and may do some more this winter sometime, but that’s it. He’s just enjoying playing and watching his big brothers for now. And he was a great little helper when I coached soccer in the summer.
The Whole Family
We don’t do organized extracurriculars as a family, although actually the older two are soon to change from their current Kung Fu school to a place that is more mixed martial arts that they will go to with Grandma! There are a number of other reasons for the change, but it sure is a bonus that they will get to go to class together when the move happens.
We also of course do plenty of biking together and this summer I tried to encourage some family running at the track. It worked occasionally Some days we pretend to play tennis, but I think we get a lot more activity chasing the ball around than actually hitting it. This winter me and the two little boys will take ski lessons (dad, oldest and grandma are already skiers) so that we can do that together too.
I think this adds up to plenty of busy for us. But it’s not too bad really. Soccer is about 2 hours out of our Saturdays, and otherwise our weekends are for relaxing or playing together as a family. We still have dinner together all the time, usually at the table, sometimes in the car! Activities are done in time for an 8pm bedtime most nights, 8:30 twice a week. The new martial arts place will add time to our days because the boys will be able to go to a mixed age class together, instead of one after the other like they do now. Overall, I’m pretty happy with our extracurricular schedule, and really as long as it works for us, we must in fact be hitting that sweet spot after all.Featured image is a Tagxedo cloud (love them!), all other images © Laurie Runs Life, 2012.