Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Extracurricular Means ExtraStress...ular...

We have two rules for extracurricular activities in our family: You can only choose two at a time, and one of them has to be music. Right now, because of age, the music is simply piano lessons. Of course, Brandon and I both took piano lessons for a very long time, so it's kind of a family priority, but I also strongly believe that good piano lessons can set the stage for outstanding musical ability later. Piano is so basic, you know? It is versatile, a C instrument, and widely used. It's good for anyone to learn the piano, but especially for young kids.

Anyway, the other activity is their choice. The girls have chosen things like little league baseball, gymnastics, dance, art, and theater. The boys have only chosen karate and soccer (they are pretty young now, though). I don't mind that the girls change their minds and choose new things from time to time, but I do try and guide their decisions.

Of course, this doesn't count Church activities (Activity Days, Cub Scouts --next year! --or one day, YM/YW night), so even though there are only two activities, it's kind of like three.

This school year, I figured life would get easier when the kids were back in school, but now I'm looking at their schedules and I'm crying a little bit. Just a little bit, though, because I know they will be better off having schedules, deadlines, and activities to keep them away from the television and my iPad. On paper, it looks like this:

*School for big kids, 8:40AM to 3:20PM
*#3 soccer practice

*School for big kids
*Preschool for #4, 9-11
*Activity Days for #2
*Soccer games for #3

*School for big kids
*Piano lessons for older three

*School for big kids and Preschool for #4
*Activity Days for #1
*Art class for #1 and #2
*Soccer games for #4

*School for big kids

*Soccer games for #3 and #4

It's not bad, eh? But then I realized how each day they need to do their chores, practice their piano, do their homework, bathe occasionally, and hopefully have friends. I think I'm starting to understand how families choose to limit activities for their kids; why they choose to drop things. It makes me happy I've tried to follow their advice BEFORE I get into those crazy years, and that Brandon and I have agreed on the only-two-activities rule. It will still turn me into a "soccer mom," but I've been there before, and I think I've done a pretty good job of streamlining and organizing our schedules.

Of course, that's before I found out Back To School night is the same night as Brandon's work trip and #4's soccer game. Or triple-booked myself for one evening and had to change the date for Book Club. Or had to pick between a GNO or a date with my husband.

It's like I'm not allowed to have a boring life. I have to constantly choose between things. Which is worse, I wonder?

What is your extracurricular activity schedule like for your kids? Do you limit it during the school year? Are there requirements like our piano lessons one?


michelle said...

I'm finding that this is a flux-y kind of thing. It's also hard because hubby and I have some different perspectives on this. For now, we do piano as a foundational instrument, too, but I could see that changing as kiddos get older. I have refused to do extras that demand more than an hour or two a week. (Soccer is not an option around here because it takes up too much time.) I also can feel that the school options with our particular school choice (a charter) are going to complicate things all the more. So one of the things we're going to do, I think, as they get older is put more on them to really ponder and pray after we counsel together with mom and dad.

It's hard stuff. But I think as we exercise our agency muscle, we can draw closer to God, and our kids need to learn how to do that.

Majid Ali said...
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Judi said...

I suppose I am a bit lucky considering that I only have two boys and they are 8 yrs apart in age. When #1 was doing sports, etc..#2 was to little to know the difference and just came along. Then as he too got older and wanteded to do things we could divide ourselves between the kids and change off. It has made life easy. When #1 was able to drive it was heaven! He played football, worked, homework, and a girl friend and church callings and seemed to do great at all of it. Ture, a few struggles along the way, but that is normal, right? Now that #2 is into sports and #1 is on a mission it is pretty easy. We have done it all, soccer, basketball, flag football, tackel football, etc just like with #1...yes they are brothers and have the same interest. The worst was when 1 and 2, at different times of course, were each playing on 2-3 basketball teams at one time...we did basketball everyday, but Sunday..and we loved it.
As for music...that was my downfall. We didn't have a piano until a few years ago so the boys didn't do any instrument. I wish that I had enforced it more...but I didn't. Their music appreciation is their iPods, isn't that terrible!
In our home the rule is good grades or nothing, except for church and related activities. My boys won't get scholarships for sports, but they will for grades, and #1 did, so lets hope the same for #2. And when I say good grades...it basically means A's. #1had 2 B's and 1 C in high school, everything else was an A. He was working hard and doing great, so he played..but the semester that he had a C he missed a few wrestling matches/practices..oh well. I'm the mother, the school isn't.
If I had 5/6 kids like your family I would do the same thing...
good luck with all of that. You can do it.
Sorry..I wrote a novel here.
Something I'm passionate about I suppose.

Amanda D said...

We don't have any rules. Having all three in something is tough though. After reading about your four kids in something and teaching piano lessons, however, I shall not complain anymore. :)

In the spring, Natalie does soccer and track and Travis does track. Travis does basketball in fall and winter and might add in cross country this fall. Tony gets a little left out (mostly because of age) although he did play t-ball in the spring. Hopefully, I can get him in something this fall too.

I wish that my kids were into music. I was thinking that maybe with all three in school, I should take piano lessons. Maybe I would be a good example?

Emily & Co. said...

We have the same rule...they pick ONE thing (usually a sport...soccer, gymnastics, dance, whatever). We're trying lots of things to find something they LOVE. For the boys it's soccer. Then I teach them piano and they have their scouts/activity days. So far, so good. Other interests they can pursue as a family activity (like fishing, we have art classes at our Art Museum, etc.) or maybe summer camps. We've never done camps before, but we have a full 3 months of summer here, so we might try something next summer. We're still trying to find the best time for chores, etc. This is day #4 of school and my current priority is to help my kindergartener go to school w/o kicking and screaming...ah, the joys of motherhood! ;)