Juggling After School Activities
School is almost back in session. You pull out your calendar, wistfully flip past the empty summer months pages, and get ready to fill up your days again. You know that even when the school day is over, your day is far from over. Once you hustle the kids in the door from the bus, grab them a bite to eat, and make them do a few pages of homework, next come the piano lessons, soccer practice, and Boy Scout meetings. Take a deep breath Mom. Let’s start the school year off right by learning how to juggle those after school activities with ease!
Limit the amount of activities.
The first way to get a handle on all the activities is to simply limit the amount your children are involved in. It’s not only overwhelming to you, but having kids involved in too many activities at once is a recipe for disaster when it comes to balancing other aspects of the child’s life. Schoolwork can start to suffer, and stress can creep in, which can cause trouble sleeping and negative changes in behavior.
A good rule of thumb is to limit activities to one per child per season. Be sure the activity you and your child choose is something they enjoy, not something you push them to be involved in.
Create a master calendar.
Choose a central location in your home and hang up a large family master calendar. Here is where you should write everyone in the family’s comings and goings. At the beginning of each month, sit down and fill out the calendar. This is where you can see if there are any scheduling conflicts for you to iron out before that day arrives, thus saving you frustration. Keep it organized and updated. Consider color coding the calendar by family member. Have a family meeting and make sure everyone understands how to read the calendar.
Schedule regular family time.
While you are planning out your month, don’t forget to include family time! A side effect of over-involved kids is the family as a whole sometimes takes the back seat. If you can’t remember the last time your whole family sat down for a meal, something has to change! Studies show that by simply sitting down for meals together as a whole family, kids do better in school, are less likely to become involved in destructive behaviors, are less picky eaters, and maintain a healthier weight. Make family time a priority and schedule it in first! Try to aim for once a week, even if it’s only breakfast in the morning with everyone around the table.
Plan healthy meals and snacks.
While you’re planning out the month’s schedule of activities, don’t forget to account for meals. Everyone has to eat, and you should strive for the most nutritious options. Plan out your meals on a weekly (or monthly, if you’re feeling ambitious) basis, and make sure you account for that night’s activity schedule when deciding on a meal. Face it, you won’t have time to make ravioli and marinara sauce from scratch when you have to shuttle 3 kids back and forth from ballet to piano lessons to a swim meet, all in one night! Have an assortment of healthy on-the-go snacks available to curb over hungry appetites. Remember, kids (and moms!) are happier, less cranky, and perform better when we are filled up with nutritious foods.
Pack the night before.
Make your mornings as efficient as possible, by planning the night before. Pick out outfits for the following day. Pack lunches, load up backpacks and gather sports gear. Have everything by the front door for easy access. This will decrease the amount of scrambling around in the morning, and prevent things from being misplaced or forgotten. There’s nothing worse than your son showing up to soccer practice with his sister’s ballet shoes.
Create special car time.
You probably feel like your car is your best friend from September to June. You and your kids spend a lot of time together in the confines of the car, so why not make the best use of that time? Make the car electronic-free (no phone or tablet use allowed), and focus on having quality conversations with your kids. Try planning ahead by coming up with fun topics to talk about, or pick up Table Topics: Family to get the conversation flowing. If everyone is in a funk one day, turn car time into homework time. Just make sure to properly utilize all those minutes spent in the car.
Use the help of others.
No matter how well you plan out these after school activities, something will overlap at one time or another. Consider creating a carpool with other families whose schedules line up with yours. Be flexible! You can’t be in three places at once, and if that’s where you are finding yourself, enlist help. Ask your husband, other family members, or close friends to pick up a kid if you find yourself in a jam. Don’t try to be supermom and attempt it all!
The key to juggling after school activities comes down to balance. Just remember to keep balance in all areas of your and your kid’s lives. School work and family time need to come first, then the extracurriculars. If something is getting out of whack, re-evalute the situation and make positive changes. It’s more important for Junior to be a happy, healthy well-rounded middle schooler than the next 14 year old Olympic athlete.
Photo credits: Dani, Simply Snapshots, Our Three Peas, Soccer adapted from USAG-Humphreys (CC BY 2.0), Swim Meet adapted from Marc Pope (CC BY 2.0), Carpool adapted from Carissa Rogers (CC BY 2.0)
Tags: activities, after school, after school activities, children, extracurricular, extracurricular activities, family, helpful mom resources, how to, juggling activities, juggling after school, kid's, mommy tips, motherhood, parenting, stay at home mom, tips, working mom
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